Watford BID (Business Improvement District) Chief Executive, Maria Manion, is standing down at the end of March after seven years at the helm to pursue work with other town centres and BIDs across the country. During her time in Watford, Maria has successfully led the BID, from its initial launch in 2016 through to achieving national recognition for its support for the town centre and its 350 plus businesses.
Under Maria’s leadership, the BID has earned a national reputation for its work to improve and promote Watford town centre, forming strong partnerships with businesses and other key Watford organisations. This has resulted in a national BID Place Management Award in 2018 for the BID’s role in the successful redevelopment of the town centre and a Good Retail Awards in 2022 for its work supporting businesses. Additionally, Maria’s work with Watford Borough Council and Hertfordshire LEP, was pivotal in securing grant funding for the recent improvement works on Clarendon Road, an important gateway to the town centre.
The BID continues to achieve national accreditation for its management, governance and marketing and the town centre’s early evening and night time economy, including retaining national Purple Flag accreditation. Maria has even welcomed international delegations to Watford town centre from Japan and Korea in recent years who are keen to find out how Watford does it!
Maria has championed Watford at a national level through her role as policy adviser for the Association of Town & City Management Panel and on the British BIDs Board. She has been a board member on the Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce and chaired the Hertfordshire Vibrant Towns panel for four years.
Following Maria’s departure, Watford BID’s Head of Operations and Development, Jill Farnsworth, will take over the running of the BID, strongly supported by the rest of the team.
Kwame Tefe, Chair of the BID Board, said: “The BID Board is extremely grateful to Maria for her strong leadership and commitment and for all that she has achieved for Watford town centre, both as BID Chief Executive and in her former role as Watford Town Centre Manager. She leaves the BID in a very strong position, and we are confident that it will continue to go from strength to strength. We wish Maria every success in the future”
Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford said:
“I would like to thank Maria on behalf of the town. I am incredibly grateful to her for everything she has done to make sure our town centre continues to thrive as a popular and successful place for people to visit and enjoy all that it has to offer. Maria has played such an important part in the success of our town centre, having led the Business Improvement District since it was set up. She has made a really positive difference to Watford and I wish her the very best for the future.”
Maria Manion, said: “I am immensely proud to have been part of the Watford family for the past nine years. I have been so lucky to have worked with and met so many remarkable and motivational people all passionately committed to Watford.
When your responsibility is the wellbeing and vitality of the town centre there will always be challenges and people will always be telling you that town centres don’t have a future and they are dying – that is not true, they are constantly changing, they are the social and economic hearts of our local communities, a place people want to visit and spend time with family and friends – and I believe Watford town centre is at the very heart of our community.
I hope the businesses across the town will have seen the benefits of the BID, I know when we see people coming into the town for the Christmas Lights, it is a great feeling, and when the floral displays arrive we know summer is here. Supporting our businesses has been key for the BID over the years we have helped with small grants, workshops, and lobbying on national issues. The role of the BID is wide and varied and this will continue under Jill’s leadership”.
- Watford BID is one of 300 BIDs across the UK
- BIDs are established through a ballot of businesses within a defined BID area. For the BID to go ahead, two conditions must be met:
- Over 50% of businesses that vote must vote in favour
- Those voting ‘YES’ must represent more than 50% of the total rateable value of all the votes cast
- A BID term is five years
- Watford BID has had two successful ballots – in 2016 (77% voting ‘yes’) and in 2021 (78% voting ‘yes’)