Retail expert Bill Gimsey helps to revitalise North Notts high streets

With the high streets of North Nottinghamshire feeling the pressure of reduced foot fall, both pre and post Covid-19, the team at North Notts BID has instigated a partnership with Bassetlaw District Council to take a fresh and creative look at revitalising Worksop and Retford town centres to support both national and independent retailers.

L-R - Biddy Sherburn (BID Ambassador), Matt Baker (Rise Associates and works with Bill on the Grimsey Reviews), Sally Gillborn (chief executive of North Notts BID), David Armiger (assistant CEO Bassetlaw District Council), George Buchanan (North Notts place manager) and Bill Grimsey (retail expert).

Renowned retail expert Bill Grimsey – who has written two nationally respected reports on the state of British high-streets entitled ‘The Grimsey Reviews 1 & 2’ – was appointed to visit Worksop and Retford on Wednesday 7 October 2020 to provide insight and advice on how to reinvigorate the town centres, as well as kicking off the formation of a framework to re-shape their offering and help businesses to recover post-Covid.

Sally Gillborn, chief executive of North Notts BID, said: “We were incredibly excited to welcome Bill to North Nottinghamshire as a respected voice on revitalising town centres. As expected, he provided innovative ideas on how the BID and Bassetlaw District Council can improve the local area to increase footfall and simultaneously improve community connectivity and wellbeing.”

Bill was joined by Sally, David Armiger from Bassetlaw District Council and George Buchanan from North Notts Envoys on his tour of Worksop and Retford, before announcing his recommendations during an online webinar last week (Monday 12 October 2020).

Sally continued: “Following the release of Bill’s recent “Build Back Better” Covid supplement – which offered recommendations on how high streets can rediscover their community purpose post-Covid – we knew his insight would be invaluable during our discussions on how to boost our high streets in North Notts. The BID is doing everything it can to support small businesses during this difficult period and we’re keen to align our efforts with Bassetlaw District Council as it also takes a closer look at how town centres across the district can be improved.”

North Notts BID has rolled out a number of initiatives during the pandemic to help businesses get back on their feet including a free maintenance service, the LoyalFree loyalty app and MarketPlace and, more recently, a free virtual social media marketing course for hospitality businesses to help them retain customers during this time of limited contact.

Bill Grimsey said: “Following the impact of Covid19 on local high streets and the subsequent rise in online shopping, it is now more important than ever for local authorities to invest in their town and city centres and solidify their commitment to revitalising the local economy.

“Both Worksop and Retford have the potential to be bustling hubs of community activity, but they each require the investment of both time and money to make the changes needed to have a substantial impact on the success of their highstreets. It’s great to see organisations like North Notts BID pioneering these changes and, with the help of Bassetlaw District Council, working to support retailers and hospitality businesses across North Nottinghamshire.”

The visit also complements the work of the Worksop Town Commission, introduced by Bassetlaw District Council, which aims to bring together businesses, employers, transport providers, landlords and retailers to work on a long-term strategy to increase Worksop’s retail, entertainment and experience offers.

Cllr Simon Greaves, leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “Inviting a nationally recognised expert on the future of the high street was a great initiative by the BID, giving local business leaders and retailers the opportunity to learn from his experience and insight about the future of retail and how best to transform our town centres. Local town centres and retail trends have changed dramatically over the last 30 years and we look forward to working with the North Notts BID, the Worksop Town Commission as well as business forums and businesses in the future to address these issues. 

“The Council already has a number of initiatives in the pipeline from a strategic point of view with proposals aligned to the Local Plan, town centre focussed Masterplans and Neighbourhood Plans that re-imagine how our town centres will look in years to come. These exciting projects will back up the hard work that the Council and the BID have put in over the last few months to provide retailers with the support and guidance they need to ride out this incredibly difficult time.”

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