MR BIG reflects on a year of town progress

A year after the formation of Market Rasen Business Improvement Group the town has new shops and has hosted seven speciality markets.

But MR BIG members say they have only just begun and have much more planned for the coming year.

A core team of volunteers, supported by six members of staff are now in place, three of which are employed at the recently launched Greens of Lincolnshire farm shop.

As featured in the Rasen Mail last week, February will see an arts festival, Plank, launched in the town thanks to £9,000 worth of funding from the Arts Council.

The group has also appointed a town centre manager, Nicola Marshall, to promote Market Rasen.

She said: “MR BIG has demonstrated what can be done, and it’s not all about the money. It also shows the massive support of volunteers. We only have 10-12, but they have been really critical to us and we still need more.

“There are some key messages from the town tidy up. We did a town walk about on December 29. It showed 66 per cent of actions needed are quick fixes. Whether that is a lick of paint to a building or clearing up a spot, they are quick wins.

“WLDC have been fabulously supportive. They currently have section 215 notices against properties that detract from the look of the town, definitely three of these are in the town and they are looking at another 11.”

The annual report reveals that it cost some £6,943 to set up Greens of Lincolnshire in Queen Street.

But in its first month the farm shop recorded turnover of £6,046, and MR BIG members are very positive about the start made.

Nicola said: “It’s been a very positive start and we see that shop as creating a profit and the profit can then go back into the funds we have for the town.

“Long term though, MR BIG is not about running shops. It’s about starting them up and then passing them on to maybe community ownership or to a private owner.”

MR BIG launches The Corner Shop on the Market Place on February 2, a community arts and crafts style business, backed by £20,000 worth of West Lindsey District Council funding.

MR BIG was awarded £98,599 from the Portas Pilot scheme and has since secured £20,000 from WLDC, £9,000 from the Arts Council and £8,900 Lottery Funding.

To date it has spent £15,974 leaving the group with £120,525 still to spend.