Gavin O’Brien, Luton born and bred, is Chair of Luton Business Improvement District (BID) and director of creative, digital and animation business Clearhead.
I’m a third generation Lutonian and my supportive family have always been very thankful for what Luton has given them. I grew up here, went to school and university here, set up a business in the town centre and am passionate about supporting the town.
For me this means celebrating what is already great about Luton but also working with the wider community to address issues so that we can significantly improve and enhance our town. That is why I was so pleased, and even relieved, when our town centre businesses voted yes to becoming a Business Improvement District (BID). This five year initiative means businesses, including mine, now pool an annual levy and we use this to fund events and projects that will make our town centre stronger, better and more cohesive.
We are now 18 months into our first term as a BID and already we are making a big difference. We employ BID Management consultants Partnerships For Better Business Ltd who have a full time BID manager, Fergus, who is based in Luton and who manages all our projects. We have three Ambassadors who are a uniformed presence in Luton town centre and a point of contact and support for both businesses and visitors.
We hold and support events to entice visitors into the town centre, the BID funds hanging baskets and floral displays to improve the look and feel of Luton town centre and we are committed to cleaning up the area and to tackling the challenges of street begging, drinking and litter.
As the chair of the Luton BID Board I work with fellow board members, all of us working on a voluntary basis, to work with the project team and help drive forward and steer these BID activities. We want everyone – residents, businesses based here and also the visitors shopping and doing businesses here – to be able to take pride in and enjoy Luton town centre.
An interesting statistic – more than 23 million people are within a two hour reach of Luton. That means we have huge potential for growth.
There is, of course, a lot more to do but being a Business Improvement District means our town centre has a plan. Together we are and can continue to make a real difference.