2017 has been another busy year for The Ilkley Business Forum and for Ilkley in general. We have seen some great new businesses opening in the town but also lost some too. We are lucky not to suffer from too many empty units in the town centre (though I know the high rents do hinder many small businesses).

I have wondered how Ilkley compares on the basis of businesses opening and closing. I have spoken with Councillor Alex-Ross Shaw, the BMDC Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning & Transport who advised that the turnover of businesses in Ilkley is very similar to that across the rest of the Bradford district – comforting or disturbing news? The continuing rise of hospitality venues does not please everyone but then, when can you? Let us know what you think.

Business Improvement District

2017 saw the start of the process to look at Ilkley setting up a Business Improvement District. A team of volunteers, headed up by Stu Hyde have spent many hours collecting data, canvassing businesses and putting together a draft plan which would see circa £500,000 invested directly into Ilkley over the next 5 years. We are now at a point of canvassing more support for this project with a view to taking it to a ballot in Summer. A few volunteers are making personal visits to any business in the Ilkley and Ben Rhydding area that has business premises with a rateable value of more than £10k to explain how this will work and the benefits it will bring – if this is you, please get in touch (info@ilkleybusinessforum.co.uk). If you could spare some time to help with these visits, we could do with some extra pairs of legs!

Noggin

For over a year now, IBF has been paying for footfall counters around Ilkley. We have 8 in total placed as follows:

  • Clip N Climb (train station)
  • Dobson and Robinson (The Grove)
  • 24/7 Nursing (Brook Street)
  • Poppy Red (South Hawksworth Street)
  • TaxAssist (Leeds Road)
  • Beau Monde (Church Street)
  • Angus Roberts (Cowpasture Road)
  • The Little Tea House (Car park area)

Anyone can have access to the data – please email me if you would like a log in.

A Board Ban

The long-running saga of the A board ban finally reached it’s conclusion in Spring 17 when a full ban was agreed. To date, there has been no formal notification but this should be going out with the 2018 rates bills (I think). Some businesses are ignoring the ban and continuing to use their boards whilst others have complied. Fines and confiscation of the boards are promised though the council did admit at the time that it does not have the resources to keep tabs on what’s happening and any action will be sporadic.

Car Park Advertising

During 2017, IBF refurbished two of the old rusty hoardings around the car park pay stations. Advertising spaces have been sold and we are now considering whether to undertake the refurbishment of the next location. This is a fairly costly exercise but the results are good – if you would like a space in the next one, please let us know.

Ilkley Business Awards 2017

February saw the second successful Business Awards with a fantastic evening recognising some excellent businesses in the LS29 area. The 2018 Awards are in March and if you would like to get involved in this event in the future, please get in touch.

Thrive Yorkshire 2017

Thrive Yorkshire 2017 was held at the new venue of The Kings Hall and Winter Gardens in September. This was the 4th year the event has been run in this format and the committee are considering changing things for 2018. Please share any ideas you have – we are considering “Thrive On The Road’ which would be a series of interactive workshops – what do you think?

Promotion of IBF

All members should now be in possession of a membership card and a new style window sticker. The membership card will give you access to our member-to-member offers – check out the website for an up to date list and get in touch if you can make an offer to our other members. We have had folders printed so that we can introduce IBF to new businesses in town. These include letters from IBF, Ilkley Parish Council, BADCOT and BNI. If you spot a new business opening, let us know so that we can give them a ‘Welcome to Ilkley’ pack.

Surveys

In addition to the surveys for BID purposes, we have worked with the Parish Council to undertake a survey on the view of residents and businesses regarding road closures and events in the town centre. Despite lots of people verbally objecting to such things, very few businesses took the opportunity to complete the survey despite it being included in all newsletters, social media posts and details being hand delivered to many of the businesses in the areas affected. The response of residents was fairly positive so town centre events will be staying!

Members Meetings

In 2017, we have enjoyed meetings at The Yard, The Box Tree, The Wheatley, Outside The Box, The Clarke Foley Centre, Audley Clevedon, the Ilkley Cinema & Banyan. If you have a venue that could host around 40 people, please get in touch.

As always, we welcome your input and comments – please email info@ilkleybusinessforum.co.uk. We hope that you continue to find your membership worthwhile, in whatever format you use it, and we look forward to bringing you more initiatives and help for your business in 2018!

Wish best wishes
Helen Rhodes
Chairman