TownCentred led a campaign in Bristol to influence leading mayoral candidates to include a policy to launch Town Teams across the city should they be successful in the November 2012 election (the first of its kind for a UK regional city).
The campaign relied largely on a website www.twentytownteams.com and pressed leaders of Bristol High Street and Town Centre Trader organisations to press their members to sign up to a charter that would then be sent - with signatories to the mayoral candidates.
The campaign promoted the importance of the issues as follows:
- A collective business voice is listened to by the Council, Police and other public bodies, enabling real action on issues affecting an area
- Area marketing, promotion, cleaning, greening and crime issues can be dealt with much more effectively via a collaborative body
- Improving the trading area leads to increased footfall, improved staff retention and cost reduction (shrinkage, crime, joint purchasing)
- Prosperity - research indicates '80% of wealth generation activities' are concentrated in these centres. Not caring for our high streets and town centres is economic suicide
- Sustainability and health - vibrant local centres encourage people to walk or cycle thereby using their car less
- Sociability - 'When you get there... there's no there' - so someone said on arriving in an American town centre over-whelmed by out-of-town retail development. The same fate awaits many traditional British centres unless residents and businesses collaborate to ensure their relevance
The Charter itself stated:
We, the undersigned recognise the benefits of traditional high streets and town centres as a key element of a healthy, inclusive, sustainable and enjoyable way of life. We acknowledge the rights of people to visit safely and to enjoy high quality local centres at any time. We are committed to harnessing the changes currently impacting these local centres by calling for:
- investment by the new Mayor in Twenty Town Teams for Bristol during the first term (assuming a four year term means five town teams funded each year = 5 x £100,000 = £500,000 or around 0.1% of annual budget)
- creation of a Bristol public/private/3rd sector support organisation of excellence in this field to 'join the dots' between retailing, planning, transport, property, business, health, sustainability etc
The outcome was nearly 200 signatories - mostly from businesses - and the support of the two leading mayoral candidates - ie George Ferguson and Marvin Rees (Labour) the former winning the election.