Words & pics by Ed King
Erdington’s new Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, sees “massive potential” in the once busy North Birmingham High Street and shopping district.
Taking over from Terry Guest this August, Mr Hodgkiss will run the Erdington Business Improvement District for at least the next five year term.
Mr Guest is stepping down after successfully taking the BID to another ballot in November last year – returning nearly 74% in favour for renewing the Erdington business partnership, with 45 of the 61 votes cast by local businesses saying ‘yes’.
Mr Hodgkiss has a longstanding record as a Town Centre Manger, having launched business improvement districts in both the Midlands and London.
Having worked on the Victoria BID in London, his portfolio included many high profile businesses and entrepreneurs – including the Royal Family’s most recognised home, Buckingham Place.
Having launched one on the UK’s first industrial site BIDs in London, and successfully establishing and managing one of the Midlands largest BIDs in West Bromwich, Hodgkiss has a proven track record of building business communities and town centre partnerships.
Now focused on Erdington, with a clear vision to transform the High Street and promote local commerce, the experience Town Centre Manager has high hopes for the once bustling North Birmingham thoroughfare.
John Hodgkiss told Erdington Local: “My job is to make Erdington one of Birmingham’s most enjoyable and exciting satellite centres to be in. I want to make it a safer place, a greener place, and a place that crucially well marketed.
“So, one of my initial aspirations would be to go out and start doing some business visits ASAP – and that will be a good mix between national retailers, independents, as well as other major stakeholders such as the police, emergency services, market traders, and all kinds of people who have a vested interest in making Erdington even better.”
Despite the series of high profile shops and banks leaving Erdington High Street, including Boots – which closed its Erdington store the week he came into post, John Hodgkiss remains optimistic the area’s future.
When asked what attracted him the Erdington, which also has recently missed out two multi million pounds of Government investment to regenerate the High Street, Hodgkiss was keen to focus on the positives.
He added: “The key words for Erdington are ‘massive potential’, and the BID is going to be here for the next five years at least.
“In the past roles I’ve been successful at looking at things like match funding, so although it’s not a never-ending pot of money by any means there is leverage to look at getting money for small projects – but also to keep banging away with money that should still be available through the Conservative government’s Levelling Up agenda. And with a change in leadership might be bigger and more important than ever.
“I feel passionate about making a change in the current economic climate, and I don’t see anywhere with the potential that Erdington has.
“It’s a great place to be, the community is great, there is a retail offer here already – particularly in making day to day living a lot easier.
“And there is scope to bring in new blood to the town, new retailers to the town, new small businesses, and rally drive the local economy forward.”
Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden, who ultimately oversees the Edington BID, was positive about the fresh approach.
He told Erdington Local: “It is great to welcome John as our new town centre manager for Erdington. He comes with previous experience of working in town centres and delivering regeneration in urban areas.
“This is going to be key as we look to work with the Town Centre Manager, BID, and local partners to deliver our plans for transformation of Erdington High Street. We very much look forward to working with John in the years ahead.”
Cllr Gareth Moore was also quick to praise the work of Terry Guest, who has steered the Erdington BID since 2011 – including through the Covid pandemic.
Cllr Moore added: “We would also like to thank Terry Guest, the outgoing town centre manager, who has been a brilliant servant for our area.
“During his time as manager, he has helped support businesses through Covid and been the rock at the heart of Erdington High Street for a decade. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”
For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit https://erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk/