Decision details

Spalding Town Centre Business Partnership

Decision Maker: Assistant Director - Strategic Growth and Development

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

To extend the existing contract in place with Mosaic Partnerships Ltd, to provide support to the Spalding Town Centre Improvement Plan Steering Group, to undertake the development stage of (and options in relation to) a Business Partnership model for Spalding following initial feasibility work.

Reasons for the decision:

Supporting independent businesses is a key theme of the Spalding Town Centre Improvement Plan (TCIP).
Since the TCIP work commenced, a small task group of independent businesses, SHDC officers and an elected member representative has developed to look at how the independent business sector in Spalding can be better supported for the benefit of the town. The sub-group is chaired by Katrina Pierce of the Federation of Small Businesses, who has provided leadership to the group.
Many of the most successful market towns in the country have well-established, well-co-ordinated business partnerships. Many also have Business Improvement Districts. No single business-led town centre partnership exists in Spalding. Consequently, the group have been seeking to explore the scope to create such a partnership within the town, alongside understanding the potential appetite to develop a Business Improvement District.
In Spring 2022 the group used external funding to commission a piece of engagement work to understand the appetite to develop a more formal business-led partnership for the town from businesses within the town centre. Mosaic Partnerships Ltd (an impartial and external agency with substantial experience of supporting businesses and places in developing business partnerships and BIDs) were contracted for the exercise following an open and competitive tender process. This exercise saw engagement undertaken with 75 businesses over a three-week period, equating to roughly 19% of all businesses in the town centre (against at target of 20%). This research identified a ‘strong and enthusiastic support’ from those engaged with to develop a cohesive, forward-thinking business-led partnership for the town. The research also identified a number of areas where businesses saw opportunities for greater collaboration, including promotion and marketing, events and centralised procurement of trade waste and energy.
The recommendation stemming from the first phase of engagement was to progress to a more detailed and expansive period of business engagement (a ‘development phase’), with a view to engage with 80% of the business community. The development stage, which is anticipated to take 9 months to complete, will result in deeper expanded engagement with the business community and further exploration of the financial viability, structure, need and appetite for a variety of business partnership models.
This recommendation has been considered by both the TCIP sub-group (including the businesses that form the group) and the two lead elected members involved in this area (Cllr Roger Gambba-Jones as sub-group rep, and Cllr Rodney Grocock as overall TCIP lead). The consensus is to proceed with the next steps of detailed engagement.
Consequently, this decision seeks to enable the council to continue its contract with the Mosaic partnership to support in delivering the development stage for a Spalding Town Centre Business partnership model, with a view to complete the exercise within 9 months of the go-ahead and report back to officers, members and the TCIP steering group on the results, findings and recommendations. The council’s original procurement of Mosaic included scope to progress the work to further stages, beyond the initial stage concluded in Spring 2022.
The council’s role is to act as an enabler by supporting the feasibility and development of the project financially. This is with a view to fund the development stage through the Town Centre Improvement plan budget. Acutely aware of the need to ensure that any process is tightly managed contractually, officers have developed a comprehensive process to manage the work and cost associated to this stage of the project. This includes a structured and controlled payment schedule and ways of Mosaic recording their time so that it is transparent. The contract in place gives the council control over the work in question and monitor progress closely.
The maximum financial exposure to the council for this work is £30,660, based on a full nine-month process and a scenario where the development phase leads to a strategy to pursue a Business Improvement District model (including necessary support to develop a business case for a BID and put this to ballot). Other outcomes will likely lead to a lower financial exposure to the council. However, as set out above, the council will closely monitor the position in respect of the project and the contract to ensure funds are only expended when necessary to do so, and fully justifiable where required.

Alternative options considered:

Undertake the work, but utilising council staffing resources. This option has been considered but discounted on the basis of a) the capacity required to deliver the work required, and b) the need for the council to be ‘arm’s length’ from the process, given the need for any business-led partnership to be driven by the needs and aspirations of the business community, as opposed to the needs and aspirations of the local authority.
Do nothing. This option would be to do nothing and this has been considered by offices and the lead portfolio holder involved. However, given the positive results from the feasibility stage and the clear view from the TCIP steering and the relevant sub-group, that further exploring and understanding the possibility of a Business Partnership model is a logical and worthwhile step to explore how Spalding town centre can be supported, this option has been discounted.

Conflict of Interest: None declared

Equalities Issues: It is considered that there are no equalities issues associated with this decision.

Contact: Matthew Hogan, Assistant Director - Strategic Growth and Development Email: matthew.hogan@sholland.gov.uk 07776 240766 Email: Matthew.Hogan@sholland.gov.uk.

Publication date: 01/12/2022

Date of decision: 01/12/2022