New Faces Join the Board of Go Forth Stirling BID

Four new members have joined the Board of Go Forth Stirling as the organisation seeks fresh ideas in the run up to re-election.

Local business owners Elle McCann, of family firm Stirling Gin, and David McDonald, who runs Burgh Coffee House, are among those newly appointed to the Board of Stirling’s Business Improvement District (BID).

Also joining the team are Mike Barclay, a manager at Stirling-based business support organisation STEP, and Ian Stephen, Head of Business Resilience at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre. Board members, who are all volunteers, focus on supporting the BID and ensuring it fulfils the aims of its five-year business plan.

They are currently working on shaping Go Forth’s future strategy and helping outline a new business plan as the organisation prepares for its second term. Go Forth Project Director Danielle McRorie-Smith said: “We’re delighted to welcome new members to the Board as we work on drawing up innovative plans and proposals during the run up to our ballot for re-election next Spring. “Each member brings different views and experience to the team which is essential as we seek fresh ideas and new impetus to shape our future direction.”

Elle McCann has been working alongside her parents June and Cameron McCann running Stirling Distillery – the home of Stirling Gin – since she graduated from university last year. The firm are voluntary levy-paying members of the BID which is an opportunity available to local businesses who are not automatic BID members.

Elle says: “I joined the Board because I want to know more about what’s going on in Stirling and be a real part of the business community here. I’m currently finding my feet and learning what it means to be on the Board and I plan to do all I can to help Go Forth as it moves forward.

At the age of 23, I’m the youngest Board member and believe I can bring new ideas and a different perspective to the team. It’s great to be part of decisions being made to support businesses in Stirling and we were pleased to come on board as voluntary Go Forth members as it’s a very worthwhile organisation.”

David McDonald and his brother Alistair set up Burgh Coffee House in King Street nearly 12 years ago. He considers the BID “good value for money” and has been impressed with the various initiatives set up to support business owners through the Covid pandemic.

He says: “We were one of the first independent coffee shops in Stirling and tend to know a lot about the town and what’s going on having been here for so long. This means I can bring information about what’s happening on the ground and what traders’ main concerns are to the Go Forth Board and I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the BID.

I’m very interested in urban planning and the idea of preparing and adapting the high street for a digital world and I think I can bring a different perspective to the Board around that subject.”

He added: “I think the BID has really come into its own since the pandemic hit supporting local businesses with social distancing floor stickers, social media campaigns and more. We get good value for money from our levy payment.

Mike Barclay, Business Support Manager at STEP, hopes his organisation and the BID can work closely together. He said: “I am delighted to be joining Go Forth Stirling as a board member representing STEP. STEP has been supporting businesses in and around Stirling for over three decades and since Go Forth’s inception in 2017, we have worked to support some of their amazing projects supporting city-centre businesses, but we recognise we can help more.

STEP re-invest 100% of what we generate into activity designed to grow the local economy and we hope to make every pound go further by working closely with the BID on projects moving forward.”

Ian Stephen is a police Inspector who joined the SBRC, a non-profit organisation which works with Scottish businesses to prevent crime, on secondment from Police Scotland last year.

He said: “Go Forth Stirling is one of Scotland’s most active and successful BIDs and it’s great to be able to work with an active group who are doing as much as possible to better their local area for everyone. Being on the Board and engaging with the BID is very much a two-way street whereby our two organisations can share contacts and ideas which work towards reducing business crime and making Stirling a better environment for businesses to flourish.”

The new members join Go Forth Chair David Black and Vice-Chairs Kevin Moore, director of Stirling Arcade, and Gary Turnbull, director of Thistles Stirling, on the Board. Other Board members include Paul Waterson, of the Golden Lion Hotel, Keir Stevenson, of Stirling Council, and Susanne Akil from Specsavers in Stirling.

There are 37 active BIDs in Scotland each working to enhance their city’s high street experience and delivering projects specific to their business community’s needs. In Stirling, the Go Forth team represent around 600 business owners with a key objective of increasing visitors to the city and devising initiatives to help make it a more welcoming destination for businesses and shoppers.

Business owners pay an annual levy fee related to the size of their premises and the BID can access matched funding and grant schemes to support its projects and services. The BID also runs a voluntary levy scheme which means any business outwith the current BID zone, but within the Stirling Council area, can become a member by paying a yearly levy linked to their rateable value.

Meanwhile, smaller Stirling city centre businesses – who have a rateable value of less than £10,000 and are therefore not automatically members of the BID – have the option to join and pay a flat £250 annual fee. Go Forth Stirling was set up in 2017 and will go to ballot next Spring in the hope of securing a further five-year term.

A successful renewal ballot will allow the BID to continue delivering initiatives for Stirling’s business community and to fund current projects such as the Street Stories scheme; the Independent Stirling campaign; free membership of the Retailers Against Crime programme for independent business owners; the delivery of free online training courses plus the provision of digital and shopfront improvement grants.

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