Mon 4th January 2021.
For the vast majority of us the start of 2020 began like many others, with plans being set out for the year ahead. Who knew we were heading into one of the most challenging years of our time. A year of a global pandemic that would take the lives of so many loved ones and over 1.5 million people across the world.
The Milngavie BID team would like to convey our sincere condolences and respects to all families affected through the loss of a loved one in 2020. Bereavement is always a very difficult time for all those affected, but this year has been particularly difficult with social-distancing and restricted rules on family gatherings and funerals.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers as we tentatively venture into 2021 and a third lockdown. The pandemic is still not over and we have been amazed at the strength of community spirit and small innovations by community groups, businesses and individual acts of kindness. We have all adapted to keep things going, so we wanted to remind you of just a few positives from 2020.
We installed new information board posters in Milngavie, displaying all businesses that accept and sell the Milngavie Gift Card. These are part of our range of co-ordinated efforts to showcase Milngavie businesses locally and the wider area. Little did we know how important local businesses in our towns were going to be in 2020.
On 20th Jan, Chinese epidemiologists published an article stating that the first cluster of patients with ‘pneumonia of an unknown cause’ had been identified on 21st Dec 2019.
Our second Window Wanderland event took place on 21st and 22nd February, when we transformed the streets of Milngavie into a free outdoor gallery for the public.
Even more businesses and local streets showed their support and decorated their windows to make this event even bigger.
The weather wasn’t great to say the least, but many of you came out to support this community focused event at a traditionally quiet time of year. It showed the public were willing to come out and support small businesses in the depth of winter.
From the start of the year, the Milngavie BID team had invested a lot of time planning and scheduling for a year of events. Santa’s reindeer were booked again as well as inflatable attractions of all shapes and sizes for our second Healthy Habits event. The Classic Car Show was organised as part of Milngavie Week and we had also started working with the West Highland Way Management Group for a big 40th Anniversary celebration of the walk. This included meetings with STV about a promotional campaign for Milngavie for this special anniversary year.
A new baby clothing range was introduced by local business Libellula Boutique called “Little Libellula”.
The Libellula team were proud winners of Best Fashion Boutique in Glasgow Retail Business Awards.
They were delighted to have launched their first children’s wear brand and are the first boutique in Scotland.
Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), who provide help and advice to BIDS, were very quick to identify the severity of the situation. Using new technology called “Zoom” online meetings enabled plans and actions to be formulated with all BID managers across Scotland.
We were warned this was not going away soon and to start emergency planning immediately. We were made aware that STP had applied to the Scottish Government for emergency high street funding to plan for the months ahead.
As public concern and business uncertainty began to rise quickly, the Milngavie BID’s first measure was to put out a strong message to the community that we were taking public safety very seriously.
All businesses received surface sanitising wipes to keep on top of the cleaning of all their work surfaces, door handles and public areas to get this message across.
By 23rd March we were in a full national lockdown with 11,000 deaths worldwide already.
Shops providing essential goods were able to remain open. Other businesses that already had websites were able to adapt quickly by offering Click, Collect and Home Delivery. Gym’s started providing online classes. Local communities started doing essential shopping for the most vulnerable.
However many traditional high street retailers, with Spring/Summer stock in their premises, were forced to close and had no other method of trading.
The £11bn funding package announced by the UK Government was a lifeline for many with around £9m being circulated as grants to small businesses by East Dunbartonshire Council (EDC). Many landlords offered up to 3 months free rent periods to their tenants. EDC introduced free parking across the region during the pandemic.
The Milngavie BID provided a key role to ensure all local businesses were informed about updates on a regular basis, especially about access to grant funding and an ever changing environment as the pandemic took hold. The BID board took the decision to suspend BID levy payments for 6 months.
The use of digital marketing was already part of the Milngavie BID plans. The first lockdown primarily speeded up the development of our Digital High Street for Milngavie, as working from home became our only option.
The BID secured resilience funding through STP. This enabled us to focus efforts setting up e-commerce websites for local businesses with an immediate need.
Within a few weeks some began trading successfully online for the first time and many more were receiving e-commerce support via Zoom.
These were just some of the businesses helped by our contracted online trader (Cammy Hendry) of over 25 years, who will continue working with the Milngavie BID and levy payers in 2021.
We launched an online Easter Bunny Hunt with a prize of a £50 Milngavie Gift Card as a way to keep engaged with the public.
We also maintained a comprehensive list on the Milngavie website about all essential businesses that we allowed to stay open during lockdown.
Throughout lockdown and especially during the good weather, the BID contracted local outdoor influencer, Fiona Outdoors, to record walking and cycling videos around Milngavie. The aim was to encourage local people to discover the local environment while remaining in their local area.
Planning for life during and after lockdown was a key feature of the BID efforts in May.
Part of the campaign included a range of videos to promote individual businesses who were still trading online during lockdown and a general positive message about Milngavie being a safe place to visit with our pedestrian precinct. See all Videos.
To continue the theme of making people feel safe, branded PPE material was purchased that included protective screens, 2m distancing material and a #SafeMilngavie campaign to make sure the public felt safe when visiting Milngavie.
24 videos were produced during lockdown to demonstrate the resilience and innovation of our town to adapt and survive through the pandemic.
Members of the local community and owners of Driftwood Lifestyle and Ruby Red Gifts, volunteered their time to paint railings and the West Highland Way plinth in Milngavie.
All re-opening businesses received floor stickers, protective screens and further online support as part of the measures to portray Milngavie as a safe place to visit, while social distancing.
There was a definite sense of optimism that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. Many businesses started their forward planning for the run up to the Autumn/Winter season.
The warm, dry weather and wide precinct in Milngavie was a natural attraction as a place for people to meet up safely. Car parking charges had been suspended that helped to encourage local people to venture out.
Having ventured into the online world of e-commerce, many Milngavie business owners took to this form of customer engagement like a duck to water. The original aim was to engage with local customers while their premises were closed. However, many found new customers from around the UK due to the sought after brands they had in stock.
Lorna Quinn, owner of The Dress Shop, even managed to arrange an Instagram live with tennis coach, Judy Murray.
In early July, new street banners were commissioned and installed in Milngavie town centre along with new ‘Milngavie in Bloom’ planter banners.
The banners kept in line with the key branding messages, with subtle references to open spaces and social distancing.
It was also a very successful moment for the team at Gavin’s Mill.
After a three-year dream and campaigning efforts, they were successful in securing a community buy out to provide a new life for the Mill and future generations to enjoy.
Milngavie was showcased on STV news as part of a new national campaign called “Scotland Loves Local” launched on 21st July.
Before the launch, local business owners were interviewed and photographed by STV for the campaign and Milngavie featured as part of an extensive summer TV campaign around #LoveLocal #ThinkLocalFirst and #ScotlandLovesLocal. This also generated extensive follow up national press coverage and radio interviews with local business owners.
The UK Government introduced the “Eat Out To Help Out” programme to help kick-start local hospitality businesses by encouraging people to visit restaurants, cafes and pubs that had been badly hit by the lockdown.
It was a generally positive time, when we were all anticipating that the pandemic would be over by Christmas.
Nominate your High Street Hero was launched as part of the Scotland Loves Local campaign with a massive congratulations to our Milngavie town centre High Street Heroes who have been celebrated on the national Roll of Honour.
Colin Savage, Baxter’s Newsagent
Evelyn Griffin, Tesco Store
Graeme and Wendy Ross, Driftwood Lifestyle Boutique &Ruby Red Gifts
Karen Purdie and team, Creature Comforts
Bridget, Lauren and team, Cafe Alba
Billy Milligan and team, Finsbay and F PIZZA
Will Traynor and team, Marks and Spencer
Kenneth, Milngavie butchers
And congratulations to Andre Alexander at Fantoosh Fish who was Highly Commended and celebrated.
There was a definite mood of optimism as the numbers of cases were falling and people were venturing out again, although there were signs in Europe of a “second wave” of the pandemic. The global death toll by August had reached 800,000.
Following confirmation of a further BID resilience funding, further Milngavie loves local branding window stickers were produced. This was to continue the positive message about the efforts made to make Milngavie as safe as it could be, despite restrictions being eased.
On street branding was backed up with ongoing social media posts about what was happening in Milngavie throughout the pandemic.
The Scottish Gantry expanded its operations by opening in Mugdock Road, after securing their premises in late 2019 and a period of complete renovation.
The Milngavie BID manager was instrumental in helping to attract the business to Milngavie. The ethos of the Scottish Gantry permits, where possible, store customers to sample pre purchase. This approach allows consumers the opportunity to broaden their horizons on drinks choice.
The store is decorated in a unique manner with antique furniture; creating a setting that makes a visit a truly enjoyable experience.
On 7 October the First Minister announced that a Tier system would be introduced across Scotland, for a further 16 days (9th-25th Oct), with Milngavie in Level 4.
The BID focussed efforts to ensure all businesses were aware of further grant support, administered through EDC.
Guising wasn’t possible this year, but there was still plenty of Halloween fun to be had in Milngavie town centre with our socially distanced Halloween Pumpkin Trail. It was very encouraging to see small family bubbles completing the pumpkin trails on 31st Oct as well as the efforts local business owners.
Our £100 Milngavie Gift Card was awarded to Emily Roberts and her six year old son who were our Milngavie Halloween Pumpkin Trail Hunt prize winners.
The West Highland Way celebrated its 40th Anniversary on the 6th October 2020 and celebrations limited to digital efforts including walkers posting their memories of the walk over the last 40 years.
During the run up to this anniversary, the West Highland Way management group invited walkers to share their favourite memories from their walks.
And the result is the Virtual Exhibition, curated through the stories, photographs, videos, poems and art that provided by people who have completed the journey.
The Milngavie Gift Card scheme was set to deliver a Christmas Eve jackpot of up to £1,000 to one lucky winner on Christmas Eve. Between Sunday November 1 and Thursday December 24, anyone bought a Milngavie Gift Card of at least £10 in value gained one entry into a prize draw. 114 gift cards were loaded with £3,960 creating a Prize Amount of £396.
The new LoadThisCard.com service also allowed people to load their own gift cards from home. By the end of Dec, since the gift card launch there was over £5,000 loaded onto gift cards locking these funds into the local economy.
Global coronavirus death toll passes 1.5 million and 60,000 in the UK. On 8th December the UK administers its first does of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine outside of clinical trials, although reports start to filter through about the rapid spread of a new strain of the virus.
New Christmas themed banners and planter wraps were installed throughout the vicinity of the town centre. We took delivery of over 130 Christmas trees to Milngavie Town Centre which were hand delivered to our local businesses in preparation for Christmas, and the annual Christmas tree decorating competition.
We launched our safe outdoor family-friendly reindeer trail hunt event which took place from 12th December to 24th December 2020. The task was to find a letter on 24 of the reindeer in the town centre business windows with lots of other activities to complete as well on the flyer.
The BID team had a stand set up on Main Street on 12th and 19th Dec promoting the Milngavie Gift Card up to and beyond the Christmas Eve prize draw including the LoadThisCard.com facility that allows people to load cards themselves from home.
By 19th Dec, there was a travel ban from Scotland to the rest of the UK and Milngavie was heading into Tier 4 restrictions once again.
A big thank you as well to Tesco for allowing the Milngavie BID to locate an information rack and pop-up banner at the store entrance to promote local businesses following the announcement.
From Boxing Day, non-essential businesses have been allowed to offer Click, Collect and delivery services.
We have continued promotion of businesses on our social media channels. The Milngavie website has remained a focal point to remind the public that local businesses are still here.
From Monday 4th January, our “Adopt a Tree” appeal will be announced on social media. The public are invited to collect a potted Christmas tree to plant in their garden. or keep potted for next year.
While compiling this review of 2020, the First Minister has announced this afternoon that there will be a further national lockdown from 5 January 2021. The official guidance for this is on the Scottish Government website.
The Milngavie BID team will continue planning for the year ahead. No doubt the plans will have to change and adapt, but we will carry on regardless.
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing help and support throughout 2020.