Sefton crack the whip – Southport BID and STBN at loggerheads
Yet Another task force will be launched in Southport to help boost tourism in the town – and end ‘conflict and confusion’ among traders and business leaders.
The move by Sefton Council was brought into place after Local Authority bosses discovered that there was a ‘lack of partnership’ between The Southport Tourism Business Network (STBN) and the Southport Business Improvement District (BID).
When combining the revenue generated by both the STBN and the BID, businesses in Southport pay an astonishing £610,000 a year trying to improve tourism in the resort.
Now business leaders from both the BID and the STBN will form a task force to help find new ways of both organisations working together for the benefit of the town.
According to a council report published this week, there had been growing levels of ‘confusion and conflict’ from businesses in Southport about the BID while there are also early signs of a negative financial impact on the STBN since the BID was launched.
Council bosses also want to reassess how local tourism infrastructure is governed, stating that a ‘timely review’ is needed to make sure there is a clear and effective partnership between the organisations which are working to regenerate Southport.
It understood that the ‘task force’ will comprise of Mark Catherall from Sefton Council Tourism, Peter Hampson who is the chair of the STBN, BID chairman Enda Rylands, Peter Sandman of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership and Southport Hoteliers Association Chair Tracy Holgate.
Money that comes from resort business levys paid to the BID will be used to help fund some of the projects the group come up with.
There are fears that a number of businesses will start to pull funding of the Southport Tourism Business because they already pay a levy to the Southport BID.
However, a spokesperson for the Southport BID claimed, this week: “It’s a great thing for the town! ”
We already have a strong relationship with the STBN, making sure our BID members are well represented. We have been working with them to review how Southport’s retail, leisure and hospitality businesses can get as much promotion and support as possible going forward. ”
The report reads: “The Cabinet Member resolves an officer task and finish group drawn from Sefton Council, STBN, Southport Hoteliers Association and Southport BID is established to evaluate the Southport Tourism Business Network and its partnership with the Southport Business Improvement District, and to make recommendations to the Council, BID and STBN.
“We want to anticipate threats and opportunities facing the two principal tourism and retail business networks in Southport.
“The Southport Tourism Business Network is a long established tourism business network; members financially contribute to the costs of destination marketing. Currently there are over 100 members contributing circa £110k.
“In Southport over 900 businesses have to pay the BID via a set levy that generates circa £500k a year.
“When devising the BID, the Council and partners had hoped that it could be delivered via the STBN, as it was recognised that having two partnerships with overlapping objectives may create confusion to both businesses and visitors within Southport.
“Southport is not alone in this scenario, many destinations that have had tourism business networks are now accompanied by new and emerging BID companies. Destinations have implemented different delivery models to overcome the potential conflicts, demonstrating that a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate.
“The Southport BID has been in operation for over a year and while the full extent of the predicted issues have not fully arisen it is clear that some confusion and conflict exists in the minds of businesses while there are also early signs of financial impact on the STBN’s income.
“It is therefore timely to review not only the working partnership between both organisations but to look at the current governance arrangements of the STBN and the BID. It is therefore proposed that a small task and finish group made up of STBN and BID members is brought together to evaluate the Southport Tourism Business Network and its partnership with BID.
“There is a risk that key partners fail to adopt and implement planned change. However conversations about the future management and partnership working of the STBN and BID have been taking place for some time, so the overall concept will not be new to stakeholders.
“Also there is a danger that some STBN members may withdraw funding from any new proposed network if they are now BID levy payers or they can see a new model emerging.”
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