Businesses in Linlithgow have been celebrating a successful first year of supporting each other and working hard to make the town’s town centre as good as it can be.
Back in September 2014, Linlithgow’s town centre BID was formed following consultations between local businesses about what is best for the town centre.
Since then the group has been working hard to improve the footfall, presentation and life in the town centre.
BID project manager Eddie Linton-Smith said: “The group has always aimed to maximise the potential of this amazing town centre.
“There are so many different local businesses on the High Street and by working together the town will hopefully be booming with success.”
In no time the group was already planning events to improve the town centre and before the end of 2014 a food and drink festival was held in the Burgh Halls.
Eddie said: “This highlighted just how big the food and drink sector is in the town.
“Lots of businesses got to show off their fantastic culinary skills and treat locals to some amazing food.”
Then in the run up to Christmas the businesses made the town centre a bit more festive by hanging lights along the High Street.
Eddie said: “By the start of 2015 the group was more organised and had a lot more projects planned.”
The town was boosted by the visit of the original Kelpie maquettes to the Cross and the miniature horse heads proved a big hit with locals as many turned out to have a look.
Eddie said: “Businesses got a lot more involved, cakes were baked in the shape of the Kelpies, press were involved and generally there was a lot more noise made about what was happening in Linlithgow.”
A family fun day and a battle of the bands competition followed and again proved a big success for the town.
Eddie said: “The battle of the bands in August was to really capitalise on festival-goers visiting for Party at the Palace and bring them and their families into the town centre. It worked and the buzz was back in Linlithgow.”
The group has many short-term ideas and one-off events, but it was important for long-term plans to be developed to keep shoppers engaged and keep them local.
One idea was the creation of a website which went live this month. linlithgow.info/ aims to inform visitors about everything happening in the town.
Eddie said: “We had to make sure everything was up to date, from business opening times to information on the town’s heritage, history and attractions.”
Linlithgow’s town centre BID meets on a monthly basis and following the most recent meeting the group agree the first year has been a success.
In the past 12 months around a dozen local businesses have benefitted from almost £15,000 of investment into the town centre.
Eddie said: “It can be hard to gauge the success of the events. However, with businesses agreeing the town centre BID has made positive improvements to Linlithgow, it appears it is so far so good.
“The group has plans in place for next year and will continue to ensure Linlithgow town centre fulfils its potential.”
The group’s next big plan is a kid-safe wi-fi for the town centre, encouraging more people to shop local.
The biggest project undertaken by Linlithgow’s town centre Business Improvement District is the creation of a kidsafe wi-fi. Working with S1 graphic design pupils from Linlithgow Academy, a logo for the project was created and the winning teams received two tablets for their hard work. Businesses participating in the scheme will have routers placed in their shop and with 15 already signed up the town centre is well on its way to being one of the first places to offer free and safe wi-fi for shoppers and youngsters. Eddie said: “Staff will be visiting businesses to gauge interest in participating in the project as it is rolled out in full.” The installation of the router, which would normally cost around £150, is free and the town centre BID encourages any business to get involved. Eddie said: “There are many benefits in joining the scheme, You would become part of a pioneering, forward-thinking and socially conscious scheme that will be widely promoted. “Free promotional material will be issued, letting parents know you offer complete online safety. The service is free and comes with two years maintenance subsidised by Linlithgow town centre BID. “And the system comes loaded with software ready to filter and block any internet hackers, bots and unsafe content.” The system is also designed to stop neighbours ‘piggybacking’ your signal and using your connection and it will not impact or restrict your own business connection if you already have one. “The scheme also offers protection against being accused of allowing illegal content to be downloaded by a customer while using your connection. There is no need for a password and large downloads or excessive use will not be allowed.”
Eddie added: “For cafes and bars this means they will no longer need to endure the ‘single cup of coffee, full day taking up a seat checking emails’ customer.”