Gloucester BID manager, Toby Wooldridge, is a fresh face at the not-for-profit organisation charged with making Gloucester a more desirable place to visit and do business.
He tells SoGlos what led him to get involved and what's in store for the city over the coming months.
Who are you, what’s your role and how did you get involved in Gloucester BID?
I co-own a coffee shop in Gloucester and am a landlord of a Grade II listed building on Westgate Street.
My role is board member and as of September 2022, I am the temporary BID manager, as maternity cover for our permanent manager.
I became involved towards the end of 2021, having taken retirement and therefore having some time I could devote to the role.
Why do you love Gloucester?
I moved to Gloucester in 1989 and live just a mile from Gloucester Cross.
Gloucester is a lovely historic city of small size, therefore very personal. The surrounding countryside is incredibly diverse and it's wonderful to be able to enjoy what's on offer without the time and cost of travel.
I appreciate the historic buildings and the feel of certain streets - especially the gate streets.
The depth and varied history is a major factor here – Gloucester has a wide range of styles, whereas many towns and cities are more angled to limited historic periods.
Why is Gloucester BID so important for the city?
I believe the BID is focused on improving the city for businesses and the public, without which there would be no businesses!
The funds raised are reinvested in projects that provide long-lasting benefit. We look at organising events that attract more people to the city, as well as improving safety and security.
It's also a collaboration - we always seek input from businesses on what they would like to see done.
What do you hope can be achieved over the second term?
Each term is five years. Our business plan identifies the key areas of focus, which include making the city safer, more attractive and supported.
To make the city safer, we co-fund the city protection officers and other operations around the evening economy. This area is vital to ensure visitors and businesses feel safe and have an immediate response to any issues that may arise.
Our summer flower planters make the city more attractive and create an impressive impact on the street scene. We also co-fund other initiatives and work with the city council to ensure Gloucester is as attractive as possible.
To support the city, we've come up with initiatives such as the Gloucester Gift Card, which can be taken up by any business in the BID area. This encourages people to spend in our city, thus supporting the local economy.
We also help to promote events via our website and have created and published a map through working with Visit Gloucester.
What were you most proud of having achieved in the first term?
On a personal note, I coordinated the Gloucester Rhythm and Blues Festival in July 2022.
Based on feedback from the various pubs involved, this was a major success with large numbers of music lovers coming to the city.
I also instigated the street art on the many dilapidated metal boxes around the city centre. This turned eyesores into interesting art.
A trail is available from the BID website to discover these items. There are more than 80 to find!
What are you most excited about in the months ahead?
Implementing some new ideas and initiatives, as well as getting to know and work with the many other organisations in the city.
By working together, we can make a difference and improve the city for everyone.