Confidence returns to Manor Royal but executive director Steve Sawyer says: 'We must not be complacent' - From the Manor

The annual Manor Royal Matters event this year took place at Crawley Town Football Club and brought together a broad cross-section of Manor Royal business leaders, local authority partners and supporters.

Steve Sawyer, Manor Royal BID Executive Director talks at Manor Royal Matters
Steve Sawyer, Manor Royal BID Executive Director talks at Manor Royal Matters

Organised by the Manor Royal BID, the event provided an opportunity for delegates to feedback on the challenges and opportunities they are facing using electronic voting pads.

“As well as making for a really interactive session, the results are useful for informing the work of the Manor Royal BID and how the area itself needs to improve,” said Steve Sawyer, Manor Royal BID Executive Director.

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The Manor Royal Matters event at Crawley Town Football Club

Among the surprise results were the levels of confidence reported. Taken at face value, confidence appears to have returned to something similar to pre-pandemic levels following a dip last year. 96% of businesses are now reporting feeling either very or moderately confident with 75% predicting growth in the next 12 months.

“This came as a bit of a surprise,” admitted Steve. “However, we must not be complacent as there are still challenges ahead.”

First among those challenges is recruitment highlighted by 60% of the audience. Rising costs were also of concern, while generating sales – the biggest issue of 2020 – rated third with 32% flagging this as challenging.

COVID-19 was interestingly less of a concern for people (38%) compared to last year(66%), although it is still clearly on people’s minds. On-going “Economic Uncertainty”(58%), which could be a combination of factors, is troubling for many as was the impact of “negative press”(29%). Downturn at the airport came fourth with 20% of delegates thinking this was an issue.

The good news for the town is that there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling about Manor Royal as a place to do business. Satisfaction levels were again at 90-plus percent. Prior to the Manor Royal BID starting in 2013 only 13% of employers reported being satisfied. A vast improvement and good news for the BID itself, which was shown to have the support of 96% of voting delegates.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” admitted Trevor Williams, of Thales UK and chair of the Manor Royal BID, “Things like transport and parking, improving facilities and the general upkeep and tidiness of the area are all things businesses are saying they want us to push on with.”

The other theme that started to emerge last year and again in 2021 is sustainability. Almost 50% of all delegates felt striving for excellence in the environmental performance of the area was key. Something the Manor Royal BID is concentrating on in the form of an innovative renewable energy project and work to start soon to explore how much further the BID can go in supporting businesses and reducing the carbon footprint of the area.

Delegates also got a hint of how the Business District might change in the future when Marc Tomes, Director of Allen Scott Landscape Architects, provided a sneak peak of the kinds of projects being proposed to help transform the are and build on the recent micropark project.

So what next? “We take this kind of feedback very seriously,” said Steve Sawyer.

“We will be discussing the results with the Manor Royal BID Board as we look to plan our next projects and, importantly, as we start to produce our next Business Plan during 2022. In the meantime, it’s reassuring to see confidence returning and that businesses are happy in Manor Royal. Long may that continue.”

The report full event report can be found out at www.manorroyal.org