How link with probation trust is benefiting Bath
Whatever line of business you are in, partnerships can be powerful. And here at the Business Improvement District, we are always seeking to build partnerships with other organisations in order to help oil the wheels of commerce in the city.
Much of Bath's reputation as a good place to do business – and its reputation as a top tourism and retail destination – is based on the beauty and grandeur of its surroundings. With that in mind, ever since the BID was launched we have thought hard about how best to keep those surroundings looking at their best at minimal financial cost to BID levy-payers.
An example of the creative thinking we have made on this front is our partnership with Avon and Somerset Probation Trust. In the summer of 2011, we came up with the idea of working with the trust so that offenders on their books could put their time to good effect by carrying out supervised improvements to the city.
As part of the trust's Community Payback scheme, a group of offenders now comes to Bath most weeks.
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The Probation Trust liaises with us to find out what work needs doing, and the offenders then work on those projects. If any public or private land or buildings needs a coat of paint or is in particular need of a clean-up, then the Community Payback group is dispatched.
Since the scheme began in August 2011, more than 2,200 man-hours have gone into these improvements. Thanks to this initiative, the fountain in Terrace Walk has been improved, railings in Queen Square have been painted and Walcot Street has received a thorough clean, to name just three examples.
Magistrates from the Bath and Wansdyke Bench applauded the scheme on a visit to Queen Square in the autumn.
The financial overheads are minimal. There is the cost of paying for the offenders' supervision and for the materials and equipment needed for the improvements, but other than that it is cost-free.
The BID has put £2,000 into the scheme, with our team of BID Rangers also giving their time to assist when needed. Bath and North East Somerset Council has invested a similar sum, and the initiative has also received support from Bath Preservation Trust.
This is a true partnership in action, with a diverse group of organisations pulling together to achieve an outcome that is good for all associated with the city.
John Crowther, the service manager at the council's Neighbourhood Services department, encapsulated this when he said: "We want to use every means we can to improve the appearance and character of the public realm so that people have an attractive city to live, work and visit.
"The council is very pleased to have worked with other organisations to utilise Community Payback to enhance the service we already provide."
Gratifyingly, the scheme has acted as a spur for individual businesses to extend their corporate social responsibility work. McDonald's on Southgate Street, for example, began a programme of voluntary work to paint the benches outside its restaurant.
Keeping Bath attractive is important for the city's economic vitality, and the BID will continue to vigorously pursue all opportunities to ensure our city stands out from the crowd. If you have any suggestions on projects for Community Payback or would like to get involved, contact the BID on 01225 430640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Cooper Bath Business Improvement District manager