Successful conference points way forward for high streets
The 'Digital High Street' culture and accessibility were the focus at this year’s Warwickshire Towns Network conference; the second year for this popular event held at the Holiday Inn, Kenilworth.
Hosted by Chair of The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM)and Perth City Centre Manager Leigh Brown, the event brought together place-makers, officers, partners and local businesses from towns around the county, as well as practitioners from across the West and East Midlands Region.
The vibrant event was well-attended and offered a walk down the digital high street as well as incorporating hot topics such as creating culture, post-Brexit tourism, and inclusivity.
Here are some of the some key moments and points made during the day:
“Today is about all of us coming together and supporting each other to help make our towns the best they can be for those who live, work and visit them.” Leader of Warwickshire County Council IzziSeccombe opens the conference.
“Encourage vibrancy, entrepreneurism, and creativity through collaboration, support, and promotion of healthy competition.” Warwickshire County Council Head of Transport and Economy Mark Ryder talks about Warwickshire: the fastest growing economy in the country, outside of London.
“60% of consumer facing businesses in Warwickshire’s towns have a digital presence. Of the remainder, 33% remain totally disconnected digitally.” Warwickshire County Council Team Leader for Town Centres and Tourism Rachel Baconnet talks about research on Warwickshire’s “digital high streets” by Loughborough University.
Over £60,000 raised through online crowdfunding by Coleshill Town Council and Studley In Businessto deliver projects in their local areas. Over 230 backers on the Spacehive civic crowdfunding website for these two projects, including contributions from the county council’s capital Placemaking Fund.
“A third of Warwickshire job listings require digital skills.” Emerald Group CEO Sarah Windrum on digital progress and the ambition of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership: “Build digital capacity in town centres.”
“Brexit has already changed UK tourism.” Acting ACTM Chief Executive Ojay McDonald talks about the power of the hashtag, the sustainability of a Brexit tourism boost, and the need to attract more non-EU tourism to the UK.
"£350m economic benefit and 2.5m extra visitor days in 2021." Head of Fundraising for the City of Culture Trust Michael Mogan tells the conference about the estimated benefits of Coventry being awarded City of Culture 2021, and how it will spread out into the wider area.
“The Purple Pound is worth £12.4 Billion to the tourism economy.” The opportunities offered to town centres and local businesses through improved accessibility, inclusivity and better planning – Becki Morris, Founder of the Disability Cooperative Network.