2016 a retrospective on the Business Year

What were the important business events of 2015 and how will they effect Dartmouth in 2017? Dartmouth Business News will try to answer these important questions in the following summary:

Jan 2016       Retail rents and the Dartmouth Trust

The Dartmouth Trust proposed large increases in retail rents despite the difficult trading conditions and parallel increases in Business Rates. This may have helped Lloyds Bank to decide on closure of the Dartmouth branch for instance. DBNews said at the time

“The Dartmouth Business News view is that the Dartmouth Trust has now overstepped the terms of their charter. They are now proposing rent rises that appear to match those demanded by landlords simply out to make a profit on their investments. I believe their assertion that they have no choice under the terms of their charter is incorrect because this is all down to the interpretation of the term ‘Market Rents’. As we all know there is a wide diversity in the level of rents paid in the town depending on the motivation of the landlord.”

March 2016   Dave Cawley elected Chair of the Dartmouth Business Forum

16th March 2016 - At last nights Forum committee meeting David Cawley was appointed to the Chair of the Business Forum.. David has held this role before and has been a member of the Dartmouth Business community for many years. After his appointment David said:

“This is going to be hard work but enjoyable. Many thanks to Paul who stepped in so quickly after Peter Bailey re-located to Exeter.

Many of you will know that I chaired the Chamber of Trade 10 years ago and I was also Chairman of the TIC 15 years ago for 4 years. Dartmouth isn’t the place it was then and one of my goals will be to try and get back to organisations in the town meeting together and networking. Quality Destination Tourism is the life blood of Dartmouth but we should all be supporting and encouraging other businesses as well.

I hope the committee will endorse my view that we need a low cost route to membership so that all local businesses can sign up to our ideals and be represented. This might result in 200-400 members and that will give us the biggest voice in Dartmouth.

We must strive to keep Dartmouth special and remember why we are living and running businesses here. Profitability and quality of life are both important and hence we all need to work together.”

 

April 2016     Premier Marinas acquire Noss Marina

Premier Marinas Limited has today completed the purchase of Noss Marina from the administrators Duff & Phelps. The marina was purchased for an undisclosed sum following a period in administration. Set in 37 acres on the eastern bank of the River Dart in Kingswear, close to Dartmouth, the Noss Marina site accommodates 180 serviced pontoon berths, 47 river moorings and a boatyard operation. Premier plans to work alongside local stakeholders to design and deliver a mixed use, employment-led, regeneration of the site, most of which the company says is currently in a derelict and unusable state.

This regeneration is expected to bring over £100million of investment into the area, creating a new identity for Noss as part of the Dartmouth and Kingswear community. Developments are likely to include a new and larger marina; new berth holder facilities; a new boatyard with increased lifting capacity and workshops for complimentary marine activities and a new home for South Devon College, plus a residential development.

April 2016    Dartmouth Business News launched

Dartmouth Business News was launched to provide a useful source of news and information for local businesses. With the Dartmouth Business Forum website now taken down Dartmouth Business News is now the only website offering focused online business news for Dartmouth.

April 2016     Capsized French Trawler righted

At the time The Chronicle reported earlier of the arrival of the salvage vessel Sea Devil. 

“The Dutch salvage barge Sea Devil arrived in Dartmouth yesterday evening, ahead of preparations to refloat the capsized French trawler St Christophe I.

Harbour master Rob Giles said the salvage company Multraship was hoping to refloat the trawler in the next few days.”

After attracting a certain amount of negative publicity the capsized trawler was finally righted in early April to a round of applause from the watching crowd. However the repercussions continued for some months after as an enquiry sought to find out why the capsize had been allowed to happen.

April 2016     West Dart development appeal succeeds

Millwood Homes appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the West Dart Development was successful. This presumably means the development of at least 250 new homes on the outskirts of Dartmouth can begin soon!

Dartmouth Business News said at the time:

Now, at last, the much needed development can proceed and provide homes for people living and working in the Dartmouth area. I remember Jonathan Hawkins stressing the importance of this development for the future of the Dartmouth Academy which currently supports a critically small catchment area.

This decision also highlights the crucial importance of the BID plan to encourage new businesses to locate in Dartmouth. Something we felt was important when we developed the 5 year plan. The main concern for the steering group in 2012, apart from the visual impact of the site, was the problem of creating employment for the families that would be moving into these new homes.

I hope our MP’s, District and Town Councillors will now rise to this challenge and start acting to create new employment opportunities in the area. I’m not holding my breath!

April 2016     TIC requires financial support

Dartmouth TIC asked the Town Council to support them financially from the rates with a £20,000 injection of funding. The Council turned this request down but confirmed that they would pay the £3000 normally provided earlier than planned. The BID Company was only able to offer a loan which the TIC refused.

At the time Dartmouth Business News commented:

“Dartmouth Business News maintains that the best solution FOR THE TOWN is for the BID to take full responsibility for marketing and promoting the town as both a tourist and business location, with the TIC focused clearly on making the visitor experience the best it can be (just like they do now!). The TIC Business model does not support the prohibitive costs of running our destination website which should be transferred to the BID for its protection and development. I have been accused of trying to steal the TIC’s website but as far as I am concerned it is a town asset paid for by businesses in the town and its existence is critical to the future promotion of Dartmouth. If the TIC is under threat then lets make sure of the continuity of the Destination website by passing it to the BID Company, which is owned by all of the businesses in Dartmouth and has guaranteed income for the next 3 years.

If the BID Board proposal to close the BID succeeds then clearly this option will be lost and this will impact the future of both organisations.”

Unfortunately this option was not even considered. This was a mistake for Dartmouth leaving the destination website in the hands of an organisation that is not focused on the needs of Dartmouth and transferring responsibility for the Discover Dartmouth brochure to an external publishing house WeMakeMagazines with no expertise in destination marketing. In our opinion both decisions were based on the needs of the TIC and not the needs of Dartmouth.

April 2016     Town Council rejects proposal to close BID

DB News reported at the time:

“At an extraordinary Town Council meeting held last night, the 28th April, the BID Boards proposal to close the BID Company was rejected by Councillors. After speeches by several Councillors, 9 Councillors voted to reject the BID Boards proposal. This means that their single vote will be cast against the BID Company closure. They also recommended that there be a change of management to strengthen the BID Company.

The Mayor, Councillor Rob Lyons, graciously allowed me to clarify the legal position of the BID in order to assist Councillors in their deliberations. I confirmed that closure of the BID Company did not legally end the BID project. I explained that the BID in the legal sense is the 5 year business plan, which defines the BID District, developed by the BID task force in consultation with over 160 Dartmouth Business owners, before the vote in October 2013 . The BID Company is simply formed to deliver the BID Plan after the establishment through ballot of a legal BID district, and it’s closure does not end the legally formed BID District. This information is based on advice from experts in BID legislation.

Councillors expressed mixed feelings about the BID and I agreed that the BID Company has failed to deliver many of the projects outlined in the BID 5 year Plan. I recommended that the proper action to take in these circumstances is not to close the BID Company, but to strengthen the BID Management team to ensure that the BID plan can be delivered. No one can doubt that managing the BID has been a difficult task, but successful companies are those that navigate their way through these management difficulties and come out the other end a stronger company. That is what is required of the BID Company.

I noted that no member of the BID Board was present at the Council meeting.”

May 2016     TIC hands over their website and brochure to two external organisations.

DB News reported a press release from the TIC that stated   “The future of Dartmouth’s award-winning Tourist Information Centre (TIC) has been given a boost this week following the announcement of two new partnerships to ensure the long-term security and continuation of the website www.discoverdartmouth.com and the Discover Dartmouth Tourism Guide.
From 1st May, Visit South Devon will be taking over ownership and management of www.discoverdartmouth.com from Dartmouth TIC, while We Make Magazines will assume responsibility for the publication of Dartmouth’s annual tourism guide.”

While this may help the TIC to survive will it improve the marketing of Dartmouth as a tourist destination?

Only time will tell.

 

May 2016      BID AGM - Vote on closure of the Dartmouth BID Company.

Members voted to close the BID Company by the following numbers:

Total number of Members as at 11th May 2016:  202

Total number of votes:  179

proposal - To close the Dartmouth BID

Number in favour of the proposal:  168

Number against the proposal:  10

Number of Abstentions:  1

Number in favour as a percentage of the total membership:  83%

This was a sad day for the businesses that 2 years before voted 2 to 1 in favour of implementing the BID’s 5 year business plan. It was a bad day for the team of 15 people who spent 12 months consulting with businesses in the town to develop the best plan and it was a bad day for Dartmouth whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism and will now lose a £500,000 investment in its future development.

June 2016     Britain votes to leave the EU

In June we reported:

A breath of fresh air from  Richard Tice who points out on the Leave EU Facebook page that the doom and gloom from the mainstream media is at odds with what is really happening on the ground.

“The FTSE 100 continues to power ahead at the years’ all-time high and over 1,000 points higher than the February low. It has been one of the three very best performing markets in the world in 2016.

On the ground, business is not standing still. Boeing, which has doubled UK investment in the last five years, has said it “will continue to ramp it up”. Mars, maker of the iconic bars, also announced £23m of new investment in King’s Lynn, while US company Convergys is looking to double its North East workforce with 600 new jobs.

Siemens, which employs 14,000 people in 13 plants, has committed itself to future investment in the UK, while John Lewis Partnership has reported that week-on-week sales have improved 3.1 per cent against last year and 8 per cent against 2014-15. I could go on.

The reality is that Britain is an incredibly diverse, vibrant country, and the shot in the arm from Brexit will help our economy. The doom and gloom we are still hearing from Remain’s bad losers is at odds with what is really happening. Let’s all help our great nation grow from here.”

Note that today (6/1/2017) the Times reports that the UK economy is the leading economy in the world. Now who told porkies during the campaign!

July 2016       Torbay votes in favour of a tourism BID

Torbay’s tourism businesses have given a thumbs-up to the creation of a new Business Improvement District for the English Riviera.

With a high turnout of 58 per cent the ERTBID was voted in by a 57.5 per cent majority. In all, 562 votes were cast with 323 in favour, in terms of numbers voting. In aggregate rateable value terms, the yes vote was even stronger with 71% in support of paying the levy. (remember the Dartmouth BID had a positive vote by number of 63% and value by 74%)

The £3 million raised through the ERTBID levy will fund a new not-for-profit private sector-led company to deliver high quality destination marketing of the Bay both nationally and internationally. The money will be available over the next five years to continue the work of the very successful English Riviera Tourism Company.

Businesses will pay an extra 1.95% of their business tax, with payments ranging from £150 for the smallest businesses to £15,000 per year for the largest hotels and attractions.

July 2016      TIC seeks further funding support to survive

In an article in the Dartmouth Chronicle on Friday 8th July it was reported that the TIC will receive further financial support from the Town Council to ensure it gets through the summer season intact. The Council has brought forward the payment of support funds already budgeted in order to help the cash flow at the TIC. It is hoped that the TIC will be able to find a long term solution to their funding problems during the season.

DB News has always maintained the importance of the TIC to Dartmouth’s future performance in the tourism sector but we must express some concerns over the direction the TIC is taking and the way it is taking it.

July 2016      Annual Woofstock festival gains approval to locate in Dartmouth

By Dartmouth Chronicle’s  Stuart Nuttall

SOUTH Hams Council has approved plans for a dog festival on Dartmouth’s Coronation Park. Woofstock UK will go ahead on Saturday, August 5, next year. The announcement was made by organiser Heather Nesbitt in a live video broadcast on Facebook this evening from her Blackawton home. Ms Nesbitt said the approval came after Dartmouth district councillors Hilary Bastone, Jonathan Hawkins and Rosemary Rowe had contacted council officers and given their support to the festival.

She thanked friends, fellow dog lovers and Dartmouth business owners for their messages of support.

 

July 2016      New tourism alliance formed

L-R Derek Phillips, Chairman of Heart of Devon and Sarah Stride, Acting General Manager of Visit South Devon join forces under a new super-ATP for mid-Devon, Exeter City and surrounds, Teignbridge, East Devon and South Hams

Extracted from Torquay Herald Express - 11th July

A NEW super Area Tourism Partnership has been formed to helping promote tourism in Devon. Visit South Devon and Heart of Devon will be merging at the end of September 2016. 

Prompted in part by Exeter City Council’s plans to end their financial and staffing support for Heart of Devon later this month to focus on the promotion of the city, the merger is designed to cut overheads and costs.

Economies of scale resulting from the merger will give the expanded Area Tourism Partnership a larger overall marketing budget, which will be used to increase the number of day visits, short breaks, longer holidays and business trips to Mid Devon, East Devon, Exeter and its city surrounds, Teignbridge and South Hams.

Derek Phillips, Heart of Devon Chairman, said: “Working as one we will be able to create a more powerful marketing resource with a larger budget, lower overheads and a wider appeal to visitors from across the globe.”

Stuart Longrigg, Chairman of Visit South Devon, added: “Reductions in local government and council budgets have focussed ATPs’ attention on how they can best deliver destination marketing with less public funding. Today’s announcement is a natural step in this process, bringing two outstanding ATPs together to create a much stronger marketing force and a more compelling offer to visitors.

July 2016      Multiple burglaries in town center

By Stuart Nuttall in Crime

BUSINESSES in Dartmouth town centre have been hit by a series of burglaries over the last few nights. Last night, Friday into Saturday, unconfirmed reports suggest about five business premises in the Old Market were targeted. A police spokesman said: ’ If anyone has any information can you please call 101 and quote log 224 16/07/16. Can I also ask all business owners not to leave any cash floats in their premises overnight, as the suspects clearly seem to be targeting these.’ In the early hours of Thursday morning, three other town centre businesses were attacked. A police spokesman said: ’At about 4.30am, three burglaries occurred to business premises in Dartmouth town centre. ’Throughout the night police officers have conducted foot patrols in the area to try to catch the offenders and to reassure the community.’ It is believed at least one of the businesses targeted on Thursday morning was also in the market area

September 2016     TIC Board resigns - new members from the Town Council co-opted.

IT’S all change at the Dartmouth Visitor Information Centre.

Chairman Angie Cairns-Sharp and directors Nigel Way and Chris Woodwark have stood down from the Dartmouth and District Guide Limited which runs the centre.

They are replaced by the three town council representatives; Cllr Francis Hawke, Cllr Gina Coles and deputy mayoress Dr Fiona Ward. Local business manager Hilary Bastone continues as a director.

The most important questions they must consider revolve around the need to fully understand why the TIC’s income has declined over the last 10 years, and what can be done to both reverse that decline and reduce its costs to ensure the long term future of this resource. The resignation of the existing TIC Board of Directors at the end of the financial year in August was expected and has forced the Council, in our view reluctantly, to step in and rescue the organisation. But without a clear, publicly visible business plan showing how it can be funded for the long term we believe this may simply delay the demise of the TIC.

Without a clear understanding of why the TIC has declined it will be difficult to find solutions for its long term future.

October 2016    Dartmouth Chamber of Trade inactive.

When Dave Cawley took over the Chairmanship of the Dartmouth Business Forum from me in March he promised a new approach based on networking meetings and discussions. The actions of the Chamber of Trade so far are:

  1. Dump the Dartmouth Business Forum name without reference to members, who voted unanimously in favour of adopting the new name in 2012 when I took over the Chair.
  2. Closed the Business Forum website which cost members £600 to develop and included detailed business news, promotional information on members businesses and subscription status, again without asking members views on this decision. It was replaced with a single page static site with no news or membership information at all.
  3. DB News is not aware of any networking meetings taking place and the Chamber is now almost invisible to members.

November 2016   Costa Coffee want to come to Dartmouth

This is another question which has divided the town. It relates to the application made by Whitbread to open a Costa Coffee in Dartmouth on Victoria Road.

There are many arguments for and against this proposal but DB News believes that town centers throughout the country are going through a difficult transition. More people are shopping on the internet so town centers are becoming places where people like to meet socially for a coffee and possibly do a bit of shopping, rather than the other way around. In DB News view this could be good for communities and, if we embrace this change rather than resist as we usually do, the town can benefit economically and socially. Our own experience is that we shop a lot on the internet, but love to visit our local favourite independent traders and coffee shops to meet friends and chat. We don’t expect to change that habit.

December 2016     New Swimming pool opened

On the 4th December, and after a massive effort by volunteers, Dartmouth’s new indoor swimming pool was opened by Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew.

It has taken many years and many battles for Dartmouth to build an indoor pool so lets hope it successfully provides a much needed resource for the town.

December 2016      Council reveal refurbishment costs for the Guildhall at £350,000

The minutes of the last Town Council meeting record the answer to a question from the public seats regarding the cost of refurbishment of the Guildhall. The answer given was £350,000! When asked about a business plan for this investment the recorded reply was on the lines of “we will use the Guildhall more to recover some costs”.

DB News is astounded to hear that the Town Council is prepared to invest this amount of ratepayers funds in refurbishing the Guildhall, a building with no particular architectural or historic merit, without a clear vision of the financial benefit to the town. We find it unbelievable that when County and District Councils are all having their budgets cut to save ratepayers funds the Town Council is preparing to do the opposite at the same time as asking for a 10% rise in the demands they will make on district funds.

Councillor Springett’s response to our criticism is detailed on our website here .

December 2016      Lloyds Bank announce closure of Dartmouth branch in 2017

By Karen Perrow in Business

The Lloyds Bank branch at Spithead in Dartmouth will shut next March.

In a letter to customers, manager Steven Raven said: ‘After a recent review of how customers use our branches in the south Devon area, we have made the decision to close the Dartmouth branch. ‘From March 27, 2017, this branch will be closed. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.’Mr Raven said customers could still use the Kingsbridge branch or any other Lloyds Bank branch to do their banking and all account details would carry on as before.

The closure will leave the town with just the NatWest Bank in Duke Street and the Yorkshire Building Society on South Embankment. The Lloyds premises are believed to be in the ownership of the Dartmouth Trust.

 

In summary an interesting year with seismic changes in the Business scene for Dartmouth. The closure of the BID is clearly the most negative event of 2016 leaving Dartmouth without any chance of a serious investment in its marketing. We hope this will not have a negative impact on our economy and look to the more aware businesses to continue their work to actively promote the town.

Paul Reach

Editor

Dartmouth Business News

 

 

 

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