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What should happen to the empty Beales in Bedford?

Lee Hall

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Closed retailer Beales on Bedford High Street. High Streets are in danger.

Following on from our recent look at ‘Five things that need to change to improve Bedford High Street, it is clear that locals are extremely divided on what should happen to some of the vacant shops. One particular shop located near to the High Street has remained permanently closed since mid-march.

Beales, one of Britain’s oldest department stores went into administration at the start of 2020; resulting in the closure of over 20 stores. Beales in Bedford was formerly the home of Braggins but that all changed in 1982 when the store was bought as part of an acquisition by Bournemouth based Beales. Fast forward 38 years and the building is now an empty shell.

So, what would you like to replace Beales in Bedford

We have grouped and shortlisted some of the thoughts from locals to put this question to the vote. Share your thoughts on what should replace Beales in Bedford.

1. Artisan/handcraft hub

“Turn the likes of Beales into small bespoke or handcrafted product shops and keep rents down and that way it will attract clientele as they can’t buy the products online cheaper. Encourage new enterprises with attractive start-up grants, not loans so entrepreneurs don’t need to gamble to set up businesses. Invest in the youngsters too. Don’t turn the town into flats as that won’t bring in business and will disrupt the feel a town centre needs as a hub of eclectic shops” – Lucy Fox

2. Community market

“I’ve got an idea. Let’s face it, the prospect of committing to full-time business rates means retail is very unappealing. Why would a successful online trader ever make the leap into a physical store? However, why not operate timeshares. So, carve up Beales into lots of little stalls/shops. Create standard fit wall fittings which each trader can have their branding and info printed on, simply slip and slide in and out of the hangings when you are trading.

Then promote to your customers when you’ll be there. So Mondays and Tuesdays stall 1 is Sarah’s Soaps, and then Wed and Thurs it’s Bob’s Bangers. This way consumers experience variety and feel good about supporting local businesses. And sellers don’t have to put everything on the line to sell in the town centre. The Bedford Community Market you could call it. You heard it here first people!’ – Kieran Young

3. Modern library

Expand the library into Beales, libraries aren’t just about books, there are computers, exercise classes, children’s activities etc etc. With regards to books there are lots that are not on display but hidden from view in the stack or reserve collection. – Rosemary Johnson

4. Flats/Homes

“Beales and Marks & Spencer are great buildings and part of Bedford’s history I would not want them destroyed. Keep the facades and makeover the insides as flats so that people can live in the town. Keep the streets/pavements clean as they are very grubby from traffic fumes.” Valerie Harper-Skelton

Lover of all things FAST. If I am not in the office, you can find me near a track or under a car. I also work with great people in TrendLife's Editorial team.

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Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Lee Hall

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Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Harpenden based Twist Teas have announced their “Brew for a Hero” campaign is back! Launched to support and boost morale for NHS staff and key workers, the Brew for a Hero” campaign gives people a chance to show their appreciation for all the heroes from all walks of life during the current pandemic. This could be anyone – local postal workers, refuse collectors and cleaners, emergency services and health care staff, teachers and chefs, community groups and volunteers.

Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

You can participate in the “Brew for a Hero” by nominating a NHS or key workers hero you know. Nominate your hero and give them a chance to win one of Twist Teas Rainbow inspired tea caddies. If you know a key worker, that you would like to surprise with a personalised Rainbow Caddy of tea, simply email your nominations to hello@twist-teas.co.uk. Please include a brief reason, as to why they deserve a little treat. Twist Teas will again be tasked with the difficult job of picking winners, to be announced on the 31st of January.

Local business launch “Brew for a Hero” campaign for NHS & key workers

Twist Teas will also be making caddies available to purchase via their website with profits going to NHS Charities. More information about Twist Teas can be found in our interview with founders, mother and daughter duo Nicky Kavanaugh & Claire Ayers.

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Watford businesses to decide on the future of Watford BID

Lee Hall

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Welome to Watford - Watford BID

Watford BID have launched a video highlighting the reasons why they believe they deserve a second 5-year term. Many residents in Watford are aware of Watford BID but not many understand exactly what they do and more importantly, how integral their work is to the success of Watford.

What is a BID and why are they so important?

Essentially, a BID (Business Improvement District) is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a specific area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers. This levy is used to develop projects and provide services which benefit businesses in the local area. This can include:

  • Activities to increase visitors to the area
  • Reducing overall business costs for levy members
  • Marketing and promotion of the area such
  • Lobbying councils/local government
  • Working with local police to reduce anti-social behaviour

There is no limit on what projects or services that can be provided through a Business Improvement District. Some BIDS are more effective at certain tasks than others for a number of reasons but overall, the benefits BIDs offer to the various towns across Beds, Bucks & Herts is immeasurable.

Three reasons for Watford BID to get renewed

We have selected what we believe are the three main reasons why Watford BID should get renewed.

1. Watford BID offers a central point of contact

At a time when the Government don’t know if they are coming or going, having a central point for all information relating to Watford offers residents, visitors and business owners a much-needed level of clarity. Social distancing procedures and safety communication both need harmonisation to keep Watford Town safe.

Watford BID have been extremely informative on Social Media and in the district sharing key information such as this statement on the national lockdown from the Mayor of Watford.

intu Watford outlines how it will keep people safe

Typically a Business Improvement District is within a local authority boundary but in April 2013 government introduced Cross Boundary Business Improvement Districts enabling Business Improvement Districts to operate across local authority boundaries.

2. Watford Restaurants & Bars will need support after the lockdowns end

Promoting Watford’s entertainment venues post-covid is going to need a lot of collaborative support post covid. Individual businesses taking to to social media to posts and update Facebook is not going to tempt the same numbers back to the district’s nightlife venues.

By having one organisation working alongside all the venues to promote Watford as an entertainment destination, visitors will hear one concise message that Watford is open for business.

Watford Bars are going need the support of Watford BID to boost footfall post-covid

3. Think of the benefits for residents and visitors

There have been calls for BIDs across The Three Counties to do more by some levy payers but in fairness, the amount of work involved in some of the projects is not to be underestimated such as launching The Watford Gift Card.

It is also important to understand that alongside promoting what’s on in Watford and things to do in Watford, the organisation is a key source for useful information for those living in and visiting Watford.

Welome to Watford - Watford BID

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Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

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Could this be a big clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Regardless of lockdowns and coronavirus, people want food. Fans of Five Guys could be getting a late Christmas present with a new Five Guys in Stevenage. A recent job post on the Five Guys recruitment page for a General Manager in the Stevenage area has got locals excited about the possible arrival of the much loved American Chain.

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Spotted by an eagled eyed member of ‘Stevenage Chit Chat‘, the advert for a General Manager drops a few clues at a possible opening of a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Google Treasure Map highlighting a empty unit perfect for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Unit 10 appears empty on Google Maps

Clue No.1 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – The perfect scene

Nothing cements a clue in a mystery more than a location. The recruitment team have placed a X on the spot and that is 51°54’02.4″N 0°12’33.7″W. For all the normal people reading this, that is Unit 10 in Stevenage Leisure Park. This was home to Pizza Hut since late 2002 but this recent Google treasure map shows the unit is currently empty.

Clue No.2 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A job for an ‘accomplice’

Did we mention there is a second job advert for a ‘Assistant Manager? If one job advert was not enough proof, two should be enough to convince you that plans are afoot for a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Clue No.3 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A motive

What more motive do you need than hungry people in Stevenage in need of a good burger? A Five Guys in Stevenage is well overdue. It could even tempt Sir Lewis Hamilton back to Stevenage.

 

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