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Our Hitchin Town News - August 2019

Our Hitchin Town News - August 2019

A Flying start to the BID term!

This month we have collated all the projects and initiatives Hitchin BID has undertaken and are working toward so far in the new 5 year term which started on 1st April. This is to ensure that everyone is kept up to date and in the loop with all our activities which directly and indirectly work towards making the town a more vibrant, clean, safe and well promoted place for visitors to enjoy and businesses to benefit from. As well as this monthly newsletter, the Street Rangers, Cardboard Rangers and Night Rangers are out in the town daily, communicating with businesses, relaying feedback and generally acting as the eyes and ears of the town.
Hitchin continues to face competition not just from out-of-town retail and leisure complexes, but also the huge growth in internet shopping and the plans by some of our neighbours to encourage investment in their centres and increase their facilities. Hitchin has been successful over the years because it has retained the best of the past while at the same time looking to the future with new innovative schemes. Hitchin will need to continue to ensure that it meets the expectations of a rapidly changing customer base in the range of retailers on offer, the events programme, the general cleanliness and maintenance of the town and the secure and welcoming ambience. On top of this Hitchin BID and the Hitchin Initiative are working on a new tourism strategy to boost footfall by promoting the town and its offer to a wider geographical area. The BID team are all working hard to tackle these challenges facing the town with the 5 year plan that was approved by 83% of businesses.
We are very lucky to have a very supportive community and businesses, great arts and music, events including the FoodFest, Street days, Christmas Lights Switch On and the Hitchin Festival which ran throughout July. Although Hitchin has fared well in the challenges facing our high street, the BID is doing more than ever to support local businesses and ensure the town prospers for years to come.
There will be a chance to engage on these and any other issues at the BID AGM in September so put Wednesday 25th September at 6pm in your diaries when we can review the summer and anticipate Christmas!
We are always looking for new ideas and opportunities so please get in touch if you have a flash of inspiration or if you would like to add your thoughts or get involved on any of the following topics.

We have organised and delivered a town wide floral display which includes hanging baskets, barrier baskets, three tier and cube planters. We have received really positive feedback from businesses and residents over the past few weeks.

We have spent the last few months meeting with local food and drink businesses to form the plans for our annual FoodFest in September. The event will celebrate Hitchin’s Food and Drink by offering businesses a discounted pitch, free slot in the Taster Tent and free event listings in the programme.

Believe it or not, the Christmas events planning is well underway with a number of trails and events leading up to the big day! The Christmas Tree Light switch on will be held on Saturday 30th November from 12noon to 7pm with switch-on at 5:30pm.

Having tendered and chosen a new company to put up, take down, store and insure our Christmas Lights this year, we have spent the last 4 months completing the application process for Herts County Council. As Herts Highways have very restricting rules on Christmas Lights displays in Hertfordshire, we are offering businesses the opportunity to request icicle lights outside their premises this year.

In May we put up red, white and blue bunting to improve the towns aesthetics during the summer season. The Hitchin Festival committee contributed towards this scheme which makes a positive addition to the town.

Our social platforms include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under the‘Our Hitchin’ and ‘Our Tom Hardy ‘ banners. As well as promoting what’s on in the town and the attractions it has to offer, we also post out BID business profiles. These have been immensely successful and, in many cases, have led to increases in business turnover, discovery of businesses and return visits.

This year we have increased the number of street day events to better promote and celebrate the eclectic mix of independents, chains and eateries. We have supported or are about to deliver; Churchgate and Markets Day, Arcade Day, Bucklersbury Day, Hermitage Road Day, Churchyard Day and Bancroft Day. These street days have been a great success with many businesses seeing up to 60% increase in turnover on the day of the event with many return visits.
As well as the street days we have recently held our annual Independents Day, Easter Bunny Hunt, supported the Hitchin Festival including the art trail and are planning a Halloween and Christmas Trail.

As part of the tourism strategy we are working with Hitchin Initiative on improving the Information centre. Better selection of products, improved brochures and programmes displayed and improvements to the window displays are just some of the areas being looked at to make a more welcoming hub for visitors.

Lots of work has already gone into the town’s tourism strategy and how we can deliver it in the coming months and years. There are meetings planned with the destination organisations and businesses as well as the local councils, Visit Herts and Visit England.

As part of the new business plan we are looking at some major website improvements to make the site more user friendly for first time visitors. Business listings, online shop, job section, improvement photography and better use of links to improve the SEO are just some of the areas we are looking at.

Andy Gibbs, Bonnie Barber and Nathan Clare are our Town Centre Street Rangers and between them have extensive knowledge of the town’s history, businesses and events. Our Night Rangers are undertaking excellent work in town on Friday and Saturday nights. They patrol the streets between 10:30pm and 3:30am helping members of the public and ensuring that Hitchin stays a clean, safe place to visit.

In recent months the town centre has been hit with a large amount of graffiti. Hitchin BID has invested in chemicals to remove this form of vandalism and has worked with the local council to have ‘hot spots’ covered with anti-graffiti paint. Our Rangers also take down unsightly and illegal flyposting from various premises around the town centre.

We recently organised a two week long chewing gum removal and deep clean of the town centre. Areas included; Market Place, Sun Street, Bucklersbury, Churchyard, High Street, Hermitage Road, part of Bancroft and Munts Alley. Over 63,000 pieces of chewing gum were removed from the streets and we received really positive feedback from businesses and residents.

We have put extra CCTV cameras in Churchgate, the Arcade, and West Alley. This technology has played an integral part in assisting the Police in their investigations. Many of these enquiries have led to criminals being apprehended and prosecuted contributing towards a safer town centre.

With over 60 shops and eateries using the Hitchin BID radio links they have played a vital part in preventing, apprehending and prosecuting over 300 individuals. This scheme has saved businesses £1000s in recovered items, and acted as a deterrent in preventing future thefts in the town. We also monitor the shop and pub watch WhatsApp group which give businesses real-time information on issues in the town.

There are many ways that Hitchin BID keeps in touch with its 628 levy payers. Issuing monthly hand delivered and online newsletters, Rangers who are out in the town communicating with businesses every day, cardboard Rangers who visit over 230 businesses every week, night Rangers who visit the licenced premises and BID Manager Tom Hardy, who communicates with businesses everyday by face to face visits, emails and phone calls. We hold a business breakfast every six weeks, and post regular social media and website updates to keep all businesses in the loop.

Our free cardboard collecting scheme has been hugely successful. We now collect cardboard for free from over 230 businesses and recycle over 3 tons of cardboard per month! In some cases, this scheme saves businesses more money than they pay in BID levy.

Hitchin BID represents over 600 businesses and therefore sits on various public bodies to act as the collective voice. NHDC Parking Strategy, future of Churchgate and Market, public realm improvement scheme and Herts Highway progress meetings are just some of those groups.

We have received a great response to the commercial waste discount scheme and signed up lots of businesses. We have chosen Cawleys to supply the waste service for us as they recycle 100% of their waste including the general waste which is sorted and separated at their plant. The more businesses that join the Hitchin BID scheme the cheaper waste collections will become.

We have now launched the new coffee grounds recycling scheme. You can buy a 10kg brown coffee grounds bag from us for £2 and have the grounds collected by our electric ‘Bean Buggy’. The grounds are then sent to the Bio-bean plant where they’ll be made into brisket logs for wood burners and stoves. Coffee logs can be purchased (at wholesale price) by local businesses to sell in store.


The next meeting is on Thursday 8th August at 10.30am at the Sun Hotel. For licensees with Police and licencing officers. There will be an update on the Town Centre from Tom Hardy.

Business Breakfast

The next business breakfast is on Wednesday 7th August at 7.30am, at The Farmhouse at Redcoats. Usual mix of town updates, commercial news and forthcoming events. The cost remains at £10 payable on the day but please do let Cherry know if you are attending so that we can confirm numbers.

Special Town Talk

As many will already know, the application for finance to the government’s Future High Streets Fund was unsuccessful. There may well be further rounds of funding or some alternative scheme later on, but in the meantime, Councillors are seeking to drive the process forward and with the encouraging support of the local MP, hope to bring together a number of ideas.
Hitchin Councillors have decided that there should be a special Town Talk style meeting similar to the sessions that precede the full committee meetings. It will take place on Thursday 5th September – 7pm to 9pm at the Town Hall. All are welcome. This will be an evening given over entirely to the public on the single issue of informing the emerging Town Centre Strategy with obvious reference to Churchgate and Hitchin Market. It will not be a decision-making meeting but a chance for residents, businesses and community groups in open discussion to air their views and opinions and to ask questions.

Town Dates

Councillor's Surgery
Saturday 3rd
Hermitage Road Day
Saturday 3rd
Beach Week
Tuesday 13th - Sunday 18th
FitFest Hitchin
Saturday 24th
Street Food Monthly
Thursday 29th
Local Produce & Craft Market
Saturday 31st
Churchyard Day
Saturday 31st


Hitchin FoodFest
Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th
Councillor's Surgery
Saturday 3rd
Bancroft Day
Saturday 21st
Street Food Monthly
Thursday 26th
Local Produce & Craft Market
Saturday 31st


Councillor’s Surgery
Saturday 5th
French Market
Friday18th—Sunday 20th


Get Involved! To share Hitchin news & events, email details with a link to more information and any imagery to or hashtag your pictures and stories with #Hitchin on social networks so we can locate them!

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