Congleton Partnership Executive meeting took place recently, download the full meeting minutes HERE.
MS sent out Jo report prior to the meeting.
Subjects covered included :-
A new date for the Xmas light switch on ( SAT 25th November)
Food 7 Drink Festival (Sun 11th June)
Hidden Places Theatre Day (6th May) plus workshops starting 8th April.
Vol Fest – CVSCE’s Volunteer and Gala Evening in Congleton Park (1st July)
Get Involved booklet update and print, letters gone to almost 100 groups.
Margaret Sculpture, planting, stepping stones and plaque to finish off.
|Town Centre Report – J.MacArthur
1. Occupancy Rate: We currently have 183 filled town centre properties out of 204 – making our occupancy rate 89%. We have some worrying vacancies in the pedestrian area. A planning application has been re-submitted by Boots Opticians for the large unit on the corner of Victoria Street. But we have 5 empty units on the pedestrian area as well as some big gaps in the High Street. Once the Public Realm improvement works have taken place on the pedestrian area the whole area should look more attractive and which should help stimulate interest.
2. Business Rates – there’s some good news for smaller independent businesses. The nationwide rates review put Congleton prices up slightly (now based on 2015 rentable values rather than 2008) the government set annual multiplier has slightly decreased (Businesses Rates are worked out as the Rentable Value x the Government multiplier). The standard multiplier has reduced from 49.7p to 47.9p and the small business multiplier reduced from 48.6p to 46.6p. On top of this the qualifying level for Small Business Rate Relief has increased so that 100% relief is given on Rateable Values of £12,000 compared to £6,000 last year and those with rateable values of £12,000 – £15,000 will get tapered relief 100% down to 0 meaning more of our independent traders, providing they only have one shop are paying less than in previous years.
3. Big Data Small User Project: Data patterns for footfall and sales are starting to establish and the maths department at Cardiff University is having fun detecting patterns. They have identified four main types of town based on annual footfall flows. Congleton is falling into the community/convenience town pattern. (A term that the universities are using to group together towns with similar footfall packages) Congleton market has limited impact on footfall. Saturday is consistently our busiest day, followed by Friday. Sunday is the quietest. Tuesday or Thursdays usually take third place. Weather has an influence. The interesting work will come with the interventions to see what impact they have on sales and footfall. Nationally shopping centres are losing more footfall than town centres. It appears that some of the older planning assumptions with hierarchy of towns is becoming outdated, Institute of Place Management looking to put out a policy paper based on population and accessibility research – but the five mile radius is more accurate than the traditional catchment zones.
4. The Public Realm £1 million funding: Public Realm works in the pedestrianised area and immediate road either end, is due to start in Spring 2017. Cheshire East is in the final throws of contracts – the public realm team is expected to present the final designs to the Town Council soon and these will be shared with the partnership. The design is picking up on the heritage but with a modern twist. The works are expected to start at the B&M end of the pedestrian area, working on a section at a time before starting the next section. Information will be forwarded as it becomes available.
5. Gas Works : The pedestrian area was completed two weeks ahead of schedule and was relatively smooth. The works in Mill Street are causing more problems and I am starting to work with some of the traders on compensation claims. The latest update is that the current works in Mill Street should finish on Thursday. The works on West Street – just around the corner from Swan Bank will start on Monday 13 March and must be finished by the 10 April, although hopefully won’t need the full time. During the West Street works traffic will be able to travel up Mill Street and Swan Bank but will be diverted up Waggs Street and around the crescent. We know we are going to have to work at getting customers back into town and are looking at a Congleton Treats day on Tuesday 11 April and have also planned an Easter Egg shops hunt for April 1 – 18th.
6. The Mills Congleton – AKA Scarborough Development : I understand from Cheshire East Councillors that Scarborough is presenting the Congleton Ward Councillors on Wednesday 8th March with the intention of moving towards a planning application, Scarborough will be discussing releasing the information to the Town Council and Partnership following their meetings with Cheshire East.
(NB Scarborough presenting to CEBC ward members 8.3.17)
7. Congleton in Bloom: This year the team is going out to win North West in Bloom and get the town back in the National Finals in 2018 which will be the 20th anniversary of Congleton in Bloom. The In Bloom team are delighted with the support of the partnership on so many projects to improve the town –Moody Street Gardens, Margaret’s Place, Greening Mountbatten Way and Public Realm. All of which add up to making Congleton more attractive. The judging will be in July. There will be monthly town tidies – starting in Congleton Park on Saturday 25 March from 10-12 and led by Glen Williams – all very, very welcome!
8. Christmas: The Christmas Group is shaking things up a little this year, and following consultation with a wide range of groups involved with the switch on the main event will take place on Saturday 25 November. There were a number of reasons for the change, but ultimately we aim to attract more people into town for longer at a time when more of the shops are open and make the event more of an all afternoon celebration rather than a very concentrated period that it has become. The Town Council is putting £4k into this event and Bob Edwards, David McGifford and myself have started looking at sponsorship deals for the town for the year to include Christmas and In Bloom.
9. Welcome MAP : These will be up by the end of March this year.
10. Bear Necessities: The next edition will be distributed from the 4th April. Copy is being written at the moment. If any partnership member has information for April, May and June please let Jackie know urgently – 01260 270350 ext 3 or email@example.com
St John’s Community Centre
Peter Holdsworth advised us of the grand Opening of the St John’s Community centre in Buglawton. Around £400k has been spent on renovating and developing St John’s Church Hall and Headmasters House.
Thanks to agencies and sponsors (including The Partnership providing 4 cookers) most of the work is now complete and they are holding a grand opening event from 12 noon on Saturday 11th March.
Leaflet drop has been carried out around Buglawton, MS has Emailed all of the Partnership Groups and Town Councillors. Everyone welcome to attend.
The group was successful in the health and wellbeing PB funding exercise being awarded funding to run cookery classes.
Mini Bus. Congleton Community Transport Partnership ( sub group but separately financed arm of The Partnership) is holding an event to officially launch their mini bus scheme at New Life Church on Wednesday 15th March, 2.00 to 3.00pm.
Two mini buses are now available for use by organisations with some attachment to The Partnership at very reasonable rates.
1 x 8 seater
1 x 15 seater.
Choral Society Stage. Currently being housed at OSM, but as they are about to enlarge the stage it will be too much for OSM to cope. DM suggests that PA has a word with Cheshire Police to see if they have any storage we could use.
Next Meeting is:- Tuesday 6th June 2017, Bridestones Suite, 5.30pm.