We chat with Colne’s BID’s Aneesa McGladdery
If you’ve recently had a stroll (or march) up that big hill of bonnie Colne, you should notice the immaculate sights of the high street. The fresh coats of paints on the walls, the flawless litter free pavements, the flood of visitors at the markets… all thanks to Colne BID.
Picture an invisible boundary that runs around Colne, every business in this boundary that has a certain value of £3,000 or above pays into a pot. This pot is used for projects to promote the town, make it look great, and make it a safer place. Behind this project is Aneesa McGladdery, who became BID Officer in December 2020.
“I have lived in Colne my entire life, I moved here with my mum when I was four years old. Before we moved, my mum visited Colne and she loved how quaint it was and the shops it had to offer. It was so busy in the high streets back then and the market would be absolutely heaving. There were always regular market sellers like the fruit and vegetable guy we saw every week. I walked through Colne and thought, why isn’t it like that anymore? After the pandemic, I’ve seen it get busier again and it would be lovely to get it back to the hectic streets it once was.”
As BID Officer, Aneesa spends time engaging with the businesses throughout Colne, helping them strive. “People come to me for advice, I’m like the central cog. We have paint grants up to £500 which businesses can use to keep their shops looking vibrant and fresh. Every Saturday we have volunteers picking up litter, and we encourage people to clean in front of their shops. We’re also working with the council to get Colne greener and achieve awards for green environments. There’s lots of goals for Colne. Part of my job is to network and make connections with businesses from other towns that might want to open a second business here!”
Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s buying a book, wallpaper for your new house, or you need a new hair-do, there are so many shops to choose from…
“We try to encourage people that use Colne as a ‘rat run’ to get to Skipton, or the opposite way from Keighley to get to Burnley. Why don’t they stop, shop and have a mooch or grab a quick coffee?
“My dream for Colne is to have businesses that are hobbyists that first want to sell from the Market Hall, that then progress into a shop and hopefully then a bigger shop, just like the Funky Gifts shop! We are getting a ladies clothing shop in October, which we had missing, so it’s very exciting. I would love an eco-refill shop in the town, it would do brilliantly in Colne. We could also do with some more eateries, we have a lot but we need more to add to the wonderful collection, especially for evening eating.”
Previously, Aneesa worked in hospitality and marketing for hotels, working with industries such as the Hilton. “I got a job at Crow Wood Hotel in sales, after Covid hit I was made redundant, it was pants! When this opportunity came up to work with the BID, I just went for it! Even when I was working in hospitality, I knew that I wanted to stay in Colne and I’d have to commute because I loved the town so much.”
When Aneesa isn’t making the high street look pristine, she’s busy doing crazy things…
“I went to be a beekeeper for an evening, and now I want to be a beekeeper now,” Aneesa laughs. “I recently tried open water swimming in the sea in Scotland, disclaimer, do not do this if you’re not a confident swimmer! It was so fun. My claim to fame is I was a backing dancer on television for the Bollywood version of the opera Carmen! It was in Bradford a few years ago and was televised on BBC Three. I’m not an experienced dancer but I applied, I’ve never trained or anything, but I ended up being on telly with all the Bollywood stars!”
Growing up in Colne, part of Aneesa’s weekend was to visit the high streets with her mum which is one of her fondest recollections. “I want to rebuild that feeling and create memories for people, just like I had as a child. One thing I really want to do, is get the businesses talking to one another. Everyone knows one another in Colne but we don’t talk enough. If someone is sat in a barber’s chair in Colne, how long are they sat in that chair for? At least an hour… so what do you talk about? You could talk to them about what’s going on in Colne! People need to see the uniqueness of Colne and how wonderful it is, we’ve got some real characters and shop owners around the town who are so passionate about what they do.”
Aneesa has certainly stuck to her roots and proves her devotion in all the hard work she does in the charming town of Colne. So rather than searching online or getting the train to a city, check out your local high street right outside your front door and support your local businesses!