You’ve been sending us your questions related to the town centre all week, and today we put them to inSwindon BID manager Rebecca Rowland as she takes the Hotseat. Here’s what she had to say to your burning questions...
Q Is it part of BIDs desire to see the town centre continue to become a primarily ‘night time economy’ zone?
A I wouldn’t say this takes precedence over the town centre’s daytime economy; I view the both of them as equally important.
With the new Regent Circus development, it is with hope that the night time economy will be boosted with the likes of a brand new cinema and new restaurants within the town centre. This may also lead to customers carrying on their evening within the town and visiting other night-time economy venues.
It would be fantastic to see Swindon’s town centre bustling at night as well as throughout the day, which I believe will begin to improve.
Q What kind of architectural and environmental legacy do you think developments like the troubled Regent Circus have, say, in 25 years’ time?
A In an architectural sense, the work has been pioneered and carried out by Forward Swindon; which I believe will become extremely aesthetically pleasing. I believe this will be a thriving development and will continue to change, as many developments do, over the years; I believe it’s popularity will keep it thriving.
Q Why can’t we limit the number of charity and pound shops? It lowers the tone too much. Can we get in more unique stores to make Swindon stand out?
A The businesses that come into the town centre are agreed by external parties. A great deal of work is being done by Forward Swindon, First Investments, The Brunel and The Parade management to encourage more unique and quality high street stores. Therefore, we actually do not have any control over what businesses come into the town centre; we accommodate them within our area.
Q Could you outline what you are doing to get more foreign visitors to shop in Swindon and specifically the Outlet Centre. Lots of tourists go to the Bicester one yet we are better located for Heathrow and have more of interest to see.
A We are currently working on different themed markets, including markets that will contain elements of many different cultures and niche products.
The events that we have planned for the year also would appeal to many visitors, such as our traditional St George’s Day celebrations, our summer sport activities around the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon and the World War Commemoration.
All visitors to the town centre are invited to take part in our events completely free of charge, which we hope will encourage visitors to explore the rest of the town centre, also.
Q Do you think pop-up shops have a part to play in the regeneration of the town centre?
A Bringing ‘empty shops’ back into use is a strategy that has been pioneered by many towns that have been hit by the recession. The motion has been brought to attention by the council and the implementation of pop-up shops, or markets, have many advantages for a town, and I think it would be fantastic for Swindon’s town centre.
Firstly, it allows for the support of the local economy – in the way that local small business owners and stallholders can promote and sell their wares in their own area. Shopping experience for customers is also heightened by the addition of unique and bespoke products within the town centre; plus the atmosphere of a market adds to a great tradition that some shoppers enjoy.
It also adds a bit of a buzz and vibrancy to the town, culminating in a great atmosphere for shopping.
Q What is the annual budget (or grant) given by Swindon Borough Council
A I am not in a position to disclose a monetary figure, however I can tell you it is generally around 12 per cent of our annual income.
Q Well done for the past events at the Big Screen in Wharf Green, eg the Olympic Torch, Christmas lights switch on, Wimbledon etc. I am disappointed that some other big sporting events are neglected, such as the Football World Cup. Will games from Brazil 2014 be shown live on the screen with dedicated supporting events? If not, what is it about football that ends in Swindon missing out?
A The timings for the scheduled World Cup matches make it difficult to put on an event that will benefit the town centre; a selection of our night time economy venues also benefit from promotions during the finals.
We work with Swindon Town and have previously supported events and activities, most recently their new kit launch and hope to continue this work next season.
For more questions and answers, visit www.swindon advertiser.co.uk.
Next week... Mike Welsh
IN THE Hotseat next week will be headteacher of Goddard Park Community Primary School, Mike Welsh.
Mike, who has held his position at the school since 1991, was National President of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) during 2010-2011.
The 63-year-old grew up in Swindon and after starting at Gorse Hill Infants in 1955, he left Kingsdown in 1968 to become a teacher.
Goddard Park was judged as Good and Outstanding by Ofsted in successive inspections, and Mike has been described as ‘inspirational’ in his leadership.
If you have a question for Mike, get in touch.
Send your questions to email@example.com under the heading ‘Hotseat’, or visit www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk.
Or post your questions to Hotseat, Swindon Advertiser, Newspaper House, 100 Victoria Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN1 3B, or through Facebook, or tweet us @swindonadver.