Giant ‘iPad’ for Barnstaple town centre?
Touch-screen technology could help shoppers to ‘discover’ local businesses
A GIANT “iPad-style” touch screen information board could soon be helping shoppers to find their way around Barnstaple town centre.
The innovative feature, thought to be a first for UK town centres, is one of a raft of enhancements being looked at by a new committee formed to manage a funding pot being paid into by town centre businesses.
Members of the BIDBarnstaple Board, which formed last month, will also be discussing the possibility of new town centre “finger posting” at their next meeting on April 12.
Chairman Dane Stanley, of Private Collection in Holland Walk, said there were exciting times ahead for the town centre.
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“BIDBarnstaple has been challenged to manage half-a-million-pounds over the next five years for the benefit of local businesses,” he said.
“It is not an easy task but it is very exciting; we have got some good people around the table and are ready to roll now.
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“We have five years to make a difference and we will be looking at the cost benefits of everything we do to manage the BID money to the benefit of the levy payers.”
Mr Stanley said everything the board did would focus on encouraging locals and visitors to use Barnstaple and help them to understand the wealth of good independent businesses that are available in the town.
“We are all geared up to help local people learn what’s available, as well as the true visitor,” he added.
“It is so important that local people continue to support Barnstaple and we are still convinced that many do not recognise some of the gems that we have in the town.”
The BID levy, a one-per-cent payment based on businesses’ total rateable value, has generated around �95,000 since being introduced last April. This year’s total fund will stand at �107,000 when outstanding monies owed are collected.
Barnstaple Town Centre Manager Craig Bulley said that since Barnstaple’s BID plan was voted in last year, many more similar schemes have been approved around the country and there are at least four other towns in Devon looking to introduce their own BID.
“Barnstaple is at the forefront of a national initiative and everyone else is now raising their game,” he said.
In addition to supporting the last November’s Christmas Light Switch On, BIDBarnstaple is in the initial stages of launching a new town centre website, www.barnstaple.co.uk.
Last month the company produced 100,000 glossy town centre maps with an easy-to-read colour-co-ordinated guide listing every business in the levy area.
Seventy thousand are being distributed among 180 different accommodation providers around North Devon in an area spanning from Minehead to Bude, and as far south as Tiverton, Crediton and Taunton. The rest will be distributed around Barnstaple, with coach and tour operators among those organisations being targeted.
The board has also agreed to support this year’s North Devon festival to the tune of �2,500 and will contribute �2,000 towards the annual Foodfest.
“BIDBarnstaple is also working with six-or-seven other organisations and projects that that we feel would benefit BID levy payers,” added Mr Stanley.
Copies of the new town centre map are available from various outlets around the town, including the offices of the North Devon Gazette.
BIDBarnstaple board members: chairman Dane Stanley (Private Collection); vice-chairman: Dawn Hall (2Gorgeous); Steve Peckham (Barnstaple Business Centre); James Li (Fullham Restaurant); Gerry Fry (Artstore); Andy Clayton (TTS Enterprises); Stephen Deacon (Marks & Spencer); Peter Banbury (Banburys); Gary Arlett (The Computer Shop); Martin Masters (chairman of Barnstaple Town Centre Management; Cllr John Mathews (North Devon Council).