Enthusiasm for the introduction of a Business Improvement District (BID) in St Andrews is growing.
Over 100 local business people demonstrated that support when they turned up to the latest meeting organised by the steering group leading the drive to bring a BID to the town.
Already, around 100 businesses have responded to a questionnaire promoted by the group, headed by restaurateur Ken Dalton – and a resounding 85 per cent favoured a BID in St Andrews, with only a handful thinking the idea unimportant.
The questionnaire had also asked what the main issues were in five key areas for business owners in the town – and respondents were full of ideas that will now inform the steering group’s work in developing plans for the BID, and the business plan that will form the basis of a vote on a BID for the town.
But Mr Dalton told the meeting that vote will not now take place until October. It had originally been scheduled for June, but in light of May’s general election, Fife Council had suggested moving it to the autumn.
“October 8 is the target date, and businesses will have four weeks from then to examine the proposal and vote,” he said. “2015 is going to be another great year but we have to be creative and see what business advantage we can gain.”
Mr Dalton highlighted the Open returning to St Andrews: “We want to encourage businesses in the town to think about the week of the Open as a festival in the evenings – for example, staying open until 10 pm and encouraging the feeling among visitors that there is a need to stay in the town in the evening - and stay longer.
“In the meantime we have set up the St Andrews 4 You campaign as a demonstration project to get businesses thinking about the advantages of social media today,” he added.
A delighted Mr Dalton reported: “In the first month, 16,800 people were reached on Facebook and another 86,000 through Twitter.”
Encouraging businesses to join the campaign, Mr Dalton reflected that marketing and promotion had been identified as the biggest priority for business in the BID questionnaire – 78 per cent of respondents rated it as very important and identified seasonal marketing and more events in the town as key elements of a marketing strategy.
But it was accessibility to the town centre for visitors that attracted the most criticism, as questionnaire results highlighted the need for more accessible parking in St Andrews town centre.
Most businesses thought it was either “very difficult” or “not very easy” for customers to park within a reasonable walking distance of their business and 20 per cent of replies to the survey thought parking charges in the town “unreasonable”. More than half also thought St Andrews wasn’t well serviced by public transport.
The look of the town is also important for businesses, and the questionnaire showed they see more litter bins, early morning cleaning and control of gulls as key priorities to keep St Andrews looking good.