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An Open Letter to Mary Portas

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Dear Mary,

As someone who has enjoyed your program output for many years (they would all make excellent training films too) I wanted to add my thanks and congrats on behalf of all High Street retailers for what you have done/are doing to champion the cause of the high street business. I tweeted you on this today but I expect you get too many to reply?

As the project director of Dorchester’s BID and already a convert to your way of thinking, your timely report HAS to be listened to and I hope acted on.

I would love to share some of the ideas with you that we have implemented here in Dorchester since 2008 when DBID first started. We are a very small BID (levy take is £100k p.a total) so I have to make the cash go a long way to make sure it helps businesses as much as possible. For just over a year (after several years of talks) we managed to get WDDC (west Dorset District Council) to agree to bringing back FREE parking after 6.00pm and all day Sundays in all car parks in town. A few months later we managed to get Dorset County council to follow with the on street parking meters too!

The next idea was a parking voucher scheme which meant you could effectively park all day for free in Dorchester as long as you kept spending money in the shops (£1 gets you 2hrs, spend £10+ in supporting shops and you get your £1 off your purchases at the till).

As the second phase to this highly successful project DBID has just secured agreement for matched funding from WDDC which allows DBID to give the businesses £4 back for every £10 they pay out to customers (equates to a minimum of £100 t/o for that shop @£10 min spend to qualify). This ‘sharing of the cost’ has made it viable for some more of the smaller shops to join the scheme too. The nice thing about this idea is that the independents can get a very large chunk of their BID levy back as a direct result of the project so helping to make the BID cost neutral for them (which is another one of our aims).

Finally, our last pilot project for the year is ‘Dorchester Ambassadors’ – A small but locally knowledgeable team of people that meet and greet visitors when they arrive in a car park in town, get them parked briskly (or direct them to the nearest car park with spaces). Once parked they then hit their other role of town guide and can offer directions to the place/s they want to find or the shop they need.

This is where I need your help: We are getting fabulous feedback from both the public and the shops with this idea but I really need your help to make happen the next logical stage – I want to make this a permanent feature of town for Wednesdays (market day) and all school holidays and to afford to do this we need to spread the cost over all 3 LA’s and DBID. With your assistance (it would make a great program too?) I am convinced we can get the councils to play ball and not only share the cost but share the glory of the positive news story and help local high street shops survive the recession!!

Please can you call me for a quick chat if you like the idea in principle and would like to know more.

Kind Regards,


Phil Gordon

Project Director

The Dorchester BID Company
2nd Floor, 49 High West Street
Dorchester, DT1 1UT




M: 07799 494886

DBID…Working for Business in Dorchester”

PS Here is the latest email feedback from a happy shopper this morning

Dear Phil


Rarely am I moved to find time to feed back!!  Poor really given my job, but for the first time in at least 1o years  ventured to Dorchester from Burton Bradstock to see if I could finish my Christmas shopping in the town.  My teenage daughter decided to drive to Exeter. I arrived in the Gould’s car park and was greeted by an ambassador, simply wonderful a complete contrast to Bridport where generally you cannot find a space and when you do there is usually a panic to get to it!

I great scheme and I thoroughly enjoyed my shopping experience.

Congratulations to your team


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