Vintage Kingston: The beginnings of Kingstonfirst in a business trip to the States (From Surrey Comet)
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Vintage Kingston: The beginnings of Kingstonfirst in a business trip to the States
7:00am Saturday 14th December 2013 in News
Kingston business leaders learned the importance of clearing chewing gum from the streets when they visited Washington to study the American approach to developing business improvement districts (Bid).
Town centre manager Graham McNally was joined by John Lewis general manager Tony Wheeler, councillor Chrissie Hitchcock and council officer John Mumford for the two-day trip to the American capital.
The party studied five improvement districts in Washington, Rosslyn and Baltimore in a bid to discover how to help Kingston establish its own £3.5m Bid in the town centre – which became Kingstonfirst.
The Americans’ eye for detail was something the team picked up on during the visit.
Mr McNally was particularly struck by an initiative to clean gum off the streets, which made a real difference to the environment.
He said: “Safe and clean is what people expect.”
Mr McNally said the party was able to learn from areas in Washington that had launched similar schemes to those planned in Kingston.
He said: “Getting the details right is fundamental. People don’t get excited about it, but unless you get the basics right, your customers don’t keep coming back.”
Mr McNally was also surprised to learn that some American Bids went as far as providing help for homeless people and drug addicts.
However, he pointed out that Kingston’s Bid only had a fraction of the budget of some of its US counterparts, but said he had learned some valuable lessons from the trip.
He added: “We’ve all recognised we need to have a higher level of staff than we had initially thought.”
It was hoped the Bid plans would include meeting and greeting staff outside Kingston railway station in the morning, in Eden Street in the late afternoon and in Clarence Street in the evening.
50 YEARS AGO: December 7, 1963 A guard of honour for Princess Margaret’s visit to the Bertram Mills Circus was among the Christmas holiday fixtures of the Kingston Pony Club. The club also provided an afternoon of beagling and a mock hunt in Richmond Park.
25 YEARS AGO: December 9, 1988 A man was presented with a bravery award for disarming a gunman in a pub and holding him until the police arrived despite being badly injured. Mr. John Wheeler, from Dysart Avenue, received the Binney Memorial Award for courage.
10 YEARS AGO: December 12, 2003 Parents in Kingston established the Real Nappy Network to encourage expectant mums to discuss the benefits of washable cloth nappies. Referred to as the nappychinos, mothers got together for coffee to debate an alternative to disposable nappies.
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