Tackling the seagull population anywhere is tricky but add to that the minefield of changing parking charges and, six months after forming, the St Andrews BID faces a multitude of challenging issues.
But the team headed by chairman Alistair Lang is confident that with communication and the open flow of ideas the BID will be a continued success in supporting local businesses.
He said: “St Andrews is an innovative place and we are looking at innovative solutions to the challenges faced by businesses in the town centre.”
In particular it is concerned with the growing nuisance caused by seagulls and the increasing charges placed on customers and traders to park in the town.
“The seagull survey is under way so that we can better understand how we might address that issue,” explained Alistair. “Lots of the levy-paying businesses are concerned and it is understanding how best to deliver a solution to the problem but it is not simple.”
Alistair continued to explain the approach the BID is taking to the increased parking charges: “We’ve been lobbying Fife Council and have explained our concerns on behalf of levy payers but the reality is Fife Council has a challenging budget and we need to be realistic.
“Discussions with the council about whether we might be able to look at a different charging regime are at a very early stage but I woudld be hopeful that we could work together to find something that realises revenue for the council while at the same time creates a better and fairer parking situation for levy payers.”
In the six months since the BID started operating, the group has launched an annual photography festival, helped St Andrews in Bloom bring floral displays to Market Street and engaged with cruise companies to open up new business connections. But Alistair told the Citizen there was much going on beneath the surface.
“The feedback so far has been really positive – we have had lots of engagement – but sometimes we are limited in what we can say in connection to other projects that we can’t quite talk about yet,” he said.
With more plans in the pipeline, such as exploring how to use digital media to reach a larger customer base and investigating bulk buying from one utility provider to reduce costs, Alistair said the key to success was collaboration and communication.
BID manager Rhonda McCrimmon was now in post and reaching out to businesses. Over the next few months she will be about engaging with businesses to learn about their concerns and priorities – and understanding they are not all the same.”
The BID announced that levy bills will be released at the end of July.