Last night, councillors on ADC's Bognor Regis Regeneration Sub Committee made decisions on the Place branding for Bognor Regis. The Place Branding is a set of core values that give Bognor Regis its unique identity, and reflect what's important to focus on in everything said about, and everything done to transform Bognor Regis. The "core" or "shared" values were drawn together from community feedback by Hemmigwaydesign.
As we serve as the representatives of our organisation on the multi-agency Place Branding Delivery Group, Heather Allen (BR BID Co-Ordinator), and Rebecca White (Advisor to Bognor Regeneration Board) attended the meeting at the invitation of the Chairman, Cllr Stanley. We were there to answer any questions the Councillors might have about Place Branding as a key strategy for Regeneration, and because our organisations have already adopted the shared values for Bognor Regis.
What's significant is that the Place branding doesn't "belong" to any single agency - it's for the town. There's no one agency or organisation that "owns" the place branding, but someone needs to take responsibility for making sure it's used consistently, so the Bognor Regeneration Board agreed to steward and co-ordinate it on behalf of the wider group of stakeholders that have been involved in getting it to this point. That includes WSCC, University of Chichester, Arun District Council, Bognor Regis Town Council, Bognor Regis BID and the Bognor Regis Regeneration Board. I wasn't involved from the start of the process, but I know it was never intended to be council led.
Place branding isn't just a tourism campaign with a funky logo slapped on it - it's a key strategic approach to regeneration, and it's one of the four key approaches recommended by the High Street Task Force to help move towns forward. If you're interested in the four strategic approaches, and what they seek to address , you can link to a diagnostic tool here that asks questions about your own "place" to help identify which approach is going to to have the most impact. (It's a really helpful, structured approach to identifying the problems and coming up with solutions - I've gone through the process myself, using what it revealed to present a series of recommendations to the BID Board - we're not quite at the stage where this work is ready to be shared yet, but we're close. )
Even if you just have a quick skim read of the section on place branding, you'll see that perception IS a problem for Bognor Regis and that, if all of the agencies and organisations responsible for progressing Bognor Regis adopted the values presented to councillors last night, we'd be a massive step closer to delivering consistent, cohesive, co-ordinated, collaborative change. It's done, it's paid for, they're solid values based on feedback from the community and it would be great to get cracking with delivering some fantastic town-wide initiatives knowing we're all using the same principles to guide what's done, so we don't end up with a (however well intentioned) mis-matched, ad hoc approach to transformation.
I'll say it again - "Done is better than perfect".
Long story sort - the councillors at the sub committee had two decisions to make about how the place branding be recommended to full council. It's quite wordy. They voted in favour of recommending "that the finding of the place branding perception study should be noted as a reflection on community perceptions following public consultation". However, they then voted "not to recommend that the place branding core values and brand filter approach be adopted for all council activity in Bognor Regis." I'm not a political strategist, and it could be more complicated, but my simplistic understanding of this outcome is: they recognise that the shared values reflect community feedback, but don't recommend doing anything with that feedback. (I keep writing and deleting a paragraph as there's a really important message here which may reflect why community response to "Public Consultation" is low. I'll leave it deleted though, as that's my personal view as a resident. But if you've followed the link to the High Street Task Force diagnostic tool, the "Restructuring" approach to regeneration is an interesting read. )
The BID have issued a press release this morning - I've included the text below for your information:
Press Release Issued by: Bognor Regis BID
Issued: 5th March 2021
Release date: Immediate
--------------Press Release starts ------------------
Bognor Regis BID encourages councillors to support regeneration strategy
Councillors serving on ADC’s Bognor Regis Regeneration Sub Committee last night voted in favour of recommending to Full Council that “The findings of the place branding perception study are noted as a reflection on community perceptions following the public consultation exercise.” However, the majority voted against recommending to Full Council that the place branding Core Values and “Brand Filter” approach are adopted for all Council activity in Bognor Regis.
Bognor Regis BID Co-Ordinator Heather Allen said: “This is a disappointing outcome for Bognor Regis, as it stalls the process of all stakeholders committing to bring this crucial piece of work to point of delivery.
At a time when businesses and the community are looking for decisive leadership, these ADC Councillors do not appear to have put the needs of Bognor Regis at the forefront of their decision making. We would strongly encourage them to revisit their decision, and offer all information resources we have at our disposal to help support that reconsideration.
Place branding is so much more than just a “tourism campaign”, and it’s not something that belongs to any council or single organisation. It’s a strategic approach to regeneration and transformation of places that starts with identifying and communicating clear and consistent messages about Bognor Regis to the people that live, work, study and visit here. The Place branding messages for Bognor Regis have been drawn together from responses from over seven hundred people who either live, work, study or have visited Bognor Regis – they’re not just made up by an advertising agency executive that thinks they know what Bognor Regis either is or should be like! ”
Ms Allen continued: “Following this initial disappointment at district level, we really want to encourage all Councillors at BRTC to support the adoption of the Place Branding when it’s presented at their Full Council on the 8th March. By adopting the Place branding, stakeholders would have a really valuable tool to help shape decision making on the future of Bognor Regis going forwards, including everything we’re all working on to transform the town either independently or in collaboration, including new, co-ordinated signage and wayfinding, development, events and, of course, tourism campaigns. And that’s exactly what Bognor Regis deserves right now - a co-ordinated, consistent, collaborative approach to transformation that is future-looking, brimming with ambition, highlighting our beautiful natural assets and reflecting Bognor Regis’s quirky, fun loving spirit.
BID Chairman, Jason Passingham, added: “The people of Bognor Regis have heard plenty of talk about change, and what they really want is to see action. Yes, it was a disappointing outcome last night, and our ongoing hope is that all stakeholders with responsibility for the economic development and regeneration of Bognor Regis will ultimately adopt the Place branding values, but that won’t stop the BID from progressing positive change where we have the authority and resources to do so.
As a proactive member of the multi-agency Place branding delivery group, the BID formally adopted the Place branding in January, but we had already been incorporating elements of the shared values in our work in the BID Area, including the introduction of the quirky, brightly coloured “giant flowerpots” on Queensway, the eye-catching public art in Norfolk Street, and the creation of the “living wall” at Bedford Street. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea – and the reality is you’ll never please everyone – but the overwhelming response was an appreciation that the BID was actually delivering change.
We all recognise that Bognor Regis suffers from a “perception problem” – even recently it featured on the front page of The Sun with what was intended to be a bit of a put down. Ironically, the brilliant response from the people, businesses and leaders of Bognor Regis totally demonstrated the place branding in action without even knowing it! By taking control of the narrative and using the “joke” as a springboard, most responses showed that we are up for fun, we’re proud of our blue skies, sunny climate and beautiful coastline, have great aspirations for the town and won’t be stuck in the past!”
Adoption of the Place branding will be considered at the meeting of BRTC’s Full Council on Monday 8th March.
--------------Press Release ends ------------------
For further information:
BR BID: BID Co-Ordinator Heather Allen: 07917 692690 / email@example.com
Contacting the BID:
In accordance with the lockdown rules, Clair and I are both working from home, and only coming into town if it's absolutely essential. That does include dealing with Parking Disc collections, so if you need more discs, please order in the usual way, and we will contact you to make arrangements to meet at the BID Office to collect.
You can contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone: 07917 692690 or through Zoom meeting software. The software is free to download and works across a wide range of platforms – phones, tablets, PC’s, Macs. If you’d like a virtual face to face, please invite: email@example.com