At the invitation of Sandra Walbran, Assistant Chief Executive of Hambleton and Richmondshire District Councils, RCP21 has been working in partnership with Richmondshire District Council and the businesses on Gallowfields Trading Estate. The objective was to understand the dynamics of the estate, with the aim of improving business to business networking and local economic growth.
This work started with a detailed mapping of the estate to identify businesses, clarify ownerships and business activities. Here, as in other areas, the mapping exercise proved to be a vital step that enabled the businesses to see themselves as part of a group of businesses with common issues and opportunities rather than working in isolation in the area.
Following this, the next important step was to carry out a survey of the 93 businesses on the estate. This was undertaken at the same time as the mapping exercise and helped to identify new inter-trading and joint working opportunities, along with some of the common issues experienced by the businesses.
The survey was well received and completed by a third of the resident companies. This period of interaction was a very positive experience for the businesses, council and RCP21. The reason for this is that businesses appreciated the face to face and one to one aspect of the interaction, especially the sole traders who often find it difficult to leave their premises.
The information gathered from the survey was then analysed by RCP21 to identify and prioritise the common needs and opportunities for the businesses on Gallowfields Trading Estate. Businesses were then invited to a meeting to look at the information gathered and to use it to identify as a group where they could work together better and also to agree on the most important issues facing the estate.
It is RCP21`s experience that these meetings are usually the first time businesses on a park or estate have met together. Using the tried and tested RCP21 methodology of working with parks around the region, the first meeting of resident businesses of Gallowfields was very well attended and received. The prior research of Gallowfields, validation of information and the data made available enabled businesses to take the first steps in participation and engage actively on issues and opportunities.
Dave Peacock, Owner of Peacocks of Richmond commented on his experience of the meeting:
"Peacocks of Richmond have been located on Gallowfields Trading Estate for over 20 years but this was the first time I had attended a meeting of businesses located on the estate to look at common opportunities and issues. The meeting has opened my eyes to the many potential benefits that can be gained by working and inter-trading with other companies on Gallowfields. The companies present identified many potential joint projects but are initially focusing on improving inter-trading, marketing and promoting the estate".
Nicole Patterson Business and Community Manager for Richmondshire District Council commented on the meeting: "I still cannot believe how positive everyone was.......it was like magic when people started to twig to the possibilities".
Key issues discussed at the first meeting ranged from promoting the Estate, sharing best practice, inter-trading opportunities, bulk buying of energy and fuel and shared recycling possibilities.
Commenting on the success of the initiative Assistant Chief Executive Sandra Walbran said:
"There was strong evidence from the work undertaken by RCP21 elsewhere, that the initiative would be successful on Gallowfields. The enthusiasm and interest shown to date has been very encouraging. I am confident that working with Karen and her team generating effective business dialogue can have a really positive impact on business engagement and the local economy".