Steve bids for third term to continue good work
“WHEN we see happy smiling people or we get a nice message on Facebook, I feel like we’ve done something good,” says Steve Wegerif, the director of the Hinckley BID (Business Improvement District).
For nine years Steve has dedicated his time and effort to helping make Hinckley a fun, attractive, family-orientated and memorable place to live in, work and visit.
In 2009, there were 72 BIDs throughout the UK and Hinckley’s was the first of its kind in Leicestershire. It was developed by Jonathon White who got Steve on board almost a decade ago.
Ever since, Steve dedicates every minute of his of time to ensure the BID operates 24/7.
Steve said: “If I’m not here in the office, I’m at home and I’m on call. We have over 400 businesses in the town centre that are members of Hinckley BID.
“This is what I do and live for every day. A lot of evenings we have events, on several Sundays we have events, it is just full on.”
During his time as director, Steve has successfully overseen and organised many events throughout the years which have, in turn, generated income, interest and Hinckley.
“What have we achieved? Well we now have the biggest town centre motorshow in the UK every year, more than 700 vehicles took part last year.
“We’ve just had our eighth annual Soap Box Derby running down Castle attraction to Street. Every year more entries and more people of all ages take part - and huge crowds come to watch.
“We know that from the footfall radar counters, we have brought more than a million people into the town since Hinckley BID started.”
The list of achievements for the Hinckley BID is endless, and further emphasises how well the town is doing in terms of serving its purpose of delivering projects and services in support of the local business community and helping to improve the trading environment.
When asked what his BID highlights are, Steve found it far too easy to answer, excitedly reeling off anecdotes from his involvement.
“There’s the Soap Box Derby, and the classic motorshows, the pancake race each year on Pancake Day, the five Wednesday Summer of Fun events in the school holidays, which are all free for families to attend.
“I think my funniest experience was when I was operating the start line at one of our annual Soap Box Derby. Half way down one of the soap boxes had a crash and I rushed down to help.
“Conscious that I was on the circuit and holding up the race, I ran all the way back up the hill receiving more applause and cheering than the soap boxes going down,” he laughed.
The full-on job requires lots of thinking, planning and organising, and each year Steve and his colleague Martina Smullen invent new ideas to put forward to businesses to make the town even more attractive to visitors.
Steve continued: “We like to think that we are doing everything we can do and more to showcase Hinckley town centre. We are coming up with new ideas and events to attract more visitors. For example, how about a giant water slide down Castle Street?
“We work with the bus companies to get people into Hinckley, with councillors, the county council, with HBBC officers and we work with all the businesses to try to solve any issue or problem that they have, doing our level best to maintain momentum.
“We are delighted that bigger businesses as well as small independents are still choosing Hinckley to set up in.
“We have more than 50 events on offer each year, the town has a fabulous new Leisure Centre, the new Crescent development and a fivescreen cinema. Our planners, council- lors and officers have done a great job in Hinckley by working together.”
As the third term BID ballot vote is rapidly approaching, preparation is underway to ensure that BID members are satisfied with what has happened so far and that proposals that can make a difference are put in place for the next five years.
Steve is continuing to invest all of his time into making Hinckley even greater than it already is.
And he is full of admiration for the volunteers who make up the Hinckley Town Partnership Ltd, who the BID is administered by.
Steve also expressed his gratitude to both them and their Chairman Ian Daniels, and to Steve’s hard working colleague Martina Smullen, whom he says if it was not for them, life would be very, very difficult.
With BIDs now established in Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Leicester City and shortly, Nuneaton, Steve says that it is essential that all the hard work Hinckley BID has done does not grind to a halt.
Hinckley’s annual Soap Box Derby race
Hinckley Classic Car Show last year. Paynes Garage, Hinckley 1925 Model T Ford with Findley Brightmore from Stoney Stanton. Picture: Ted Cottrell
The annual Pancake Race in Castle Street