2018 – Happy New Year!

At the end of 2017 a few people asked us why some of Linlithgow’s shops and cafes have closed. At the last count there were 151 businesses on the High Street, 72 on the industrial estate, and 190 or so others spread across the rest of the town. Businesses tend to come and go for a variety of reasons. Linlithgow High Street tends to have a rolling list of 5 or 6 empty units all the time, roughly 4%. Some of the units on the High Street are very small, so successful businesses sometimes have to vacate to move somewhere bigger. This accounts for most of the empty units at the moment, so having a few empty shops isn’t always a sign of things failing! Sometimes it is the result of start-ups being successful.

There’s a constant churn of businesses throughout the town. Its a sign of vibrancy as opposed to stagnation. Units are often only empty for 3 or 4 months while new tenants are being found and new leases are being signed. Running a small businesses is always a challenge, the business paradigm is constantly shifting and there’s no room for complacency, but its not all doom and gloom! We have some very successful businesses in our town.

The High Street businesses that tend to thrive are those offering things you can’t get on the internet (fresh cream cakes, fresh fish, hot coffee, space to meet friends, haircuts) or face-to-face services (such as architects, solicitors, accountants, dentists, cake decorators). The night-time economy (pubs, restaurants, hotels) shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Shops that are thriving tend to have a strong on-line presence, selling as much (if not more) through the internet as they do through the shop. By having a foot in both camps they really can beat the internet at its own game.

The closure of the TSB, RBS and Santander will bring some additional challenges but new businesses are already vying for the retail space. There’s plenty of room for optimism in 2018!

Linlithgow Business Association AGM, 1 Feb 2018

As the Christmas season gets into full swing the Linlithgow Business Association is already looking ahead to 2018. We’ll be holding our Annual General Meeting on 1 Feb and we’re keen to make sure we get a good turn-out of members and new members on the night. I hope you’ll mark the date on your calendar and we would love to see you there.

 

The AGM will be in the function room at the Star and Garter, starting at 7:30pm. The bar will be open for us and there will be a 2-course buffet.

 

To call it an ‘Annual’ meeting isn’t entirely accurate – The LBA hasn’t held an AGM for several years. We’re keen to reinvigorate the group in 2018. As part of that we’ll be looking to boost the membership and to find some new committee members. Following the retirement of some long-standing campaigners we will be needing a Secretary to arrange monthly meetings, a Treasurer to keep tabs on income and expenditure, and an Events Coordinator to organise 3 or 4 events each year.  Plus if anyone wants to take the role of Chair I’ll be happy to stand aside! None of these roles is very time-consuming so if you feel like getting involved please let me know in advance of the AGM.

 

I do hope you will come along on the 1st Feb and look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, have a very happy Christmas.

 

https://en-gb.facebook.com/linlithgowbusiness/

 

Jon Newey

Chair

Linlithgow Business Association

Ways to fix an ailing High Street

Interesting article today on the BBC website, “5 ways to fix our ailing High Streets”. Linlithgow’s not doing too badly just now, with new tenants lined up for most of the empty shop units, but there are still some good ideas here to think about.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41916658

LBA meeting on 1 November 2017

Great evening of chat at the LBA’s meeting on Wednesday evening. Thanks to all who came along. Its always good to catch up with what’s really going on in the town and to learn what threats and opportunities are out there for us all this month.

The next meeting will be at the Star & Garter at 7:30pm on Wednesday 29th November. All members (and would-be members) are welcome to join

At September’s LBA meeting we discussed the usual range of topics, reviewing the threats and opportunities for businesses in the town.

At September’s LBA meeting we discussed the usual range of topics, reviewing the threats and opportunities for businesses in the town.

We discussed the recent Pedal for Scotland event, the Development Trust’s plans for a Space4 business hub, and the imminent re-opening of the County Buildings, now renamed the Tam Dalyell Partnership Centre. We noted the various changes to businesses on the High Street, the new uses being found for the empty Scotbet shop, the empty Chakir shop and the old Clydesdale bank.

We discussed the upcoming redevelopment of the Vennel area and considered what pressure can be applied to McCarthy and Stone to force them to complete the High Street frontage of their development at the Cross. Finally we noted that demolition of the derelict Victoria Hall may be imminent, with partial road closures having been approved for October.

The next meeting of the LBA is on Wednesday 1 November at 7:30pm at the Star and Garter. All members (and would-be members) are welcome to come along.

 

Business rates and parking spaces:

Admittedly, not many of the small businesses along Linlithgow High Street are lucky enough to have their own parking space, but those that do will find that they get a separate bill for business rates for their car park this year. It’s worth knowing that if your business qualifies for small business discount (effectively reducing your rates bill to zero) then your parking space qualifies too, but you have to apply separately for the discount.

Meanwhile the Linlithgow BID is warning businesses to be wary of unsolicited letters offering to reduce the rates by appeal. http://www.linlithgowmillroadbid.com/unsolicited-mail-lookout/

LBA committee meeting held on 26 April 2017

The LBA committee discussed the usual range of topics affecting business in the town:

Amongst other topics the committee discussed the activities of the Historic Environment Scotland Group, both Linlithgow BIDs, the Community Council, the Planning Forum , the Civic Trust and the Town Management Group.

The Linlithgow Community Development Trust’s proposals for a business ‘hub’ were discussed. Currently the ‘hub’ is an online community called Space4 aimed at helping small and micro businesses to prosper. http://trust-linlithgow.org.uk/linlithgow-business-community-hub/ A physical hub may be developed in the future.

The Council’s proposals for redeveloping the Vennel area were discussed. A draft planning guidance report has been issued. http://coins.westlothian.gov.uk/coins/submissiondocuments.asp?submissionid=34271

The McCarthy and Stone development at the Cross was discussed. The retail units on the frontage are still not complete. Councillor Tait has been in discussions.

Anne Daly gave a report from the Visit Scotland Tourism Expo held at the SEC this week.

Chair Jon Newey will be attending the Queensferry BNI as a guest later in the week.

The next LBA meeting is to be Friday 2 June at 7:30pm. LBA members are invited to attend

Regular LBA’s management meeting on Thursday 26 January 2017

As ever, the LBA committee discussed a range of topics affecting business in the town:
The recent closure of the fruit and veg shop on the High Street was discussed. The shop was popular but generated insufficient turnover. The difficulties of high street shops competing with the convenience of supermarkets was discussed.
Updates from Councillor Tait on the activities of the Linlithgow High Street BID and the Mill Road BID. The High Street BID is spearheading an update of the Linlithgow Visitor’s Guide. LBA has been asked to contribute to the costs.
Feedback on the latest discussions within Linlithgow Community Council. LCC recently discussing the provision of school places in the town and the lack of new schools within the ongoing Winchburgh development.
Updates from Anne Daly on tourism. Meeting WLC this month to discuss the apparent lack WLC interest in tourism.
Update from Councillor Tait on the latest meeting of the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Town Management Group. Proposals for improving the steps at the back of the County Buildings are progressing and some ideas for public art.
Discussion on the current activities of the Linlithgow Community Development Trust. A new initiative is taking shape to create a business hub in the town as a focal point and resource for home-based micro businesses. LBA has joined the steering group. This initiative should be the focus of a wider meeting of LBA members in the near future.
Report from Mike Vickers on his visit to the Melting Pot business hub in Edinburgh and his discussions with Iain Scott of Can Do Places.
Anne Daly introduced us to the online virtual meeting app “Slack”
LBA’s facebook presence was discussed. A duplicate page has been archived but the original page remains active.
Discussion about the Victoria Hall. The Victoria Hall Trust is still actively pursuing purchase of the site for use as a community-owned facility.
Discussed the potential for LBA to recruit an admin assistant. Agreed to park this idea for the time being and review after March.
The committee noted with sorrow the passing of Tam Dalyell earlier in the day.
Upcoming LBA events: Date and venue in the New Year to be confirmed. Keep up with us on the LBA Events page; www.linlithgowbusiness.org.uk

The next LBA management meeting is Thursday 23 Feb. LBA members are invited to attend

Regular LBA’s management meeting on Monday 19 December

As usual we discussed a range of topics affecting business in the Town:

Report from Mike Vickers and Cllr David Tait on attendance at a meeting in Glasgow of the Electoral Reform Group, aimed at getting better grass-roots local democracy.

  • Updates from Councillor Tait on the activities of the Linlithgow High street BID and the Mill Road BID.
  • Green algae on the loch has been causing concern. Noted there is a new group set up to investigate and monitor.
  • Historic Environment Scotland Group was discussed. The group exists to foster the relationship between the owners/operators of Linlithgow Palace and the wider community. Liaison ongoing.
  • Feedback on the latest discussions within the Community Council including  further discussion on Edinburgh airport flight paths and air quality issues on High Street. Suggestions for reducing pollution on High Street were welcomed.
  • Updates from Anne Daly on the latest tourism initiatives. Still no tourism officer at West Lothian Council but tourism businesses are working well with Visit Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. International tourists visiting Scotland to see ‘Outlander’ locations are bringing benefits to many areas – Linlithgow can make more of this.  Opportunities exist.
  • Update from Councillor Tait on the latest meeting of the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Town Management Group.
  • Discussion on the current activities of the Linlithgow Community Development Trust. Some praise for the efforts of Clarion Cycle club, but limited progress to report on delivering the proposed cycle track behind the leisure centre.
  • Linlithgow Planning Forum discussed. Major development proposed for the town at Wilcoxholm farm is at pre-application stage. Discussed the trend in the town for care homes and hotels that were originally built as grand houses now reverting back to domestic use.  Generated further discussion about the redevelopment of the former bus depot and how long it might be before the frontage facing The Cross might be complete.
  • Discussion about the Victoria Hall. The Victoria Hall Trust is still actively pursuing purchase of the site for use as a community-owned facility, but held back for the time being waiting for the relevant legislation to be formally adopted.
  • Discussed the potential for LBA to recruit an admin assistant. Noted that the Royal Mile Business Association has recently been advertising a similar post.
  • Upcoming LBA events: Date and venue in the New Year to be confirmed. Keep up with us on the LBA Events page; www.linlithgowbusiness.org.uk
  • The next LBA management meeting is Thursday 26 January 2017.  LBA members are invited to attend.

Jon Newey Chair

Regular LBA’s management meeting on Wednesday 17 November

Regular LBA’s management meeting on Wednesday 17 November.

We discussed a range of topics affecting business in the Town:

  • Report from Mike Vickers on the Scottish Towns Partnership annual conference. LBA are members of STP. Valuable feedback from the Scottish Government and other Scottish towns on diverse topics such as monitoring footfall, improving digital communications, townscape improvements and other initiatives being used to improve small towns across the country.
  • Updates from Councillor Tait on the activities of the Linlithgow High street BID and the Mill Road BID.
  • Feedback on the latest discussions within the Community Council including Council Housing Allocation, Edinburgh airport flight paths and air quality issues.
  • Updates from Anne Daly on the latest tourism initiatives. No tourism officer at West Lothian Council now so local businesses are working with Fife Council where tourism is given a higher priority.
  • Update from Councillor Tait on the latest meeting of the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Town Management Group. Street lighting at the Canal Basin, pigeon control under railway bridges and refurbishment of the steps at the back of the police station among other issues.
  • Discussion on the current activities of the Linlithgow Community Development Trust.
  • Pedal for Scotland caused problems through the Town earlier this year. Discussions are already taking place on how it can be better managed next year to minimise disruption for the Town.
  • Linlithgow Planning Forum discussed. The Town’s objection to the imposition of the latest Development Plan is now being spearheaded by the Civic Trust.
  • The Cross Well refurbishment is complete. Scaffold removed today, Thursday.
  • Discussion about the Victoria Hall. Planning consent now granted for flats and shops, but the Victoria Hall Trust is still actively pursuing purchase of the site for use as a community-owned facility.
  • New members welcomed including Carol Lawton (Remax) and Gordon Hunter (Flex Fitness).
  • Discussed the potential for LBA to recruit an admin assistant.
  • Upcoming LBA events include a wine tasting evening with a presentation about new rules on pensions and retirement. Date and venue in the New Year to be confirmed. Keep up with us on the LBA Events page; www.linlithgowbusiness.org.uk
  • Local Democracy – Launch Meeting – Monday 21st November – Glasgow – Members of the LBA committee will be attending and will bring feedback.

The next LBA management meeting is on 15 December.

Jon Newey
Chair