THE outgoing chairman of a Bournemouth business organization says he is pleased with how much has been achieved in a short space of time.
Ramesh Lal has headed-up Kinson Business Forum (KBF) since its launch last year and has now stepped back to concentrate on his own business, KC Opticians.
He has handed over to Bob Wright, who runs Poppies Florist and was voted in at the latest AGM.
KBF was launched in an effort to unify and reinvigorate the area.
It gained rapid momentum, seeing around 50 members sign up in just a couple of months. It now has more than 60 on board and hopes to keep growing.
When KBF began, Ramesh said his initial aims were to spruce the area up and start work on changing people’s perceptions of Kinson as a deprived area, something he thinks big strides have been made upon.
To that end, KBF has been involved in events aimed at the whole community, rather than just businesses, such as last year’s Christmas celebrations.
It has also worked with Kinson Primary School and Bourne Academy and has plans to expand the events.
Ramesh said: “At the time I wasn’t sure how far we would go, but we’ve come quite far with what we talked about 18 months ago.
“For me, the biggest thing was we were able to galvanise different traders here as a cohesive group.
“We were also able to initiate a resurgence of the high street, as this is the first impression (that people get), and it’s taking place.”
The new Tesco store at Wimborne Road is seen as a turning point for the area, bringing a much-needed focus and increased footfall when it opens in January.
The supermarket giant has indicated that it will join KBF, Ramesh said.
He added: “Tesco’s arrival will change the skyline and it’s also 120 new jobs. It’s a feel-good factor and it’s going to increase the footfall.
“We’ve had a lot of help from the council and the three councillors, as well as the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
“There’s optimism now and the community now, as well as the businesses, want Tesco to be successful. There have been no protests and few moaners and groaners.”
Ramesh said KBF was “in good hands” with Bob and his team.
Bob said: “Right from the start we said that although we’re a business forum, we can’t have a vibrant business area with a vibrant community.
“What we want to do is to get Bournemouth council and its tourism department to look at Kinson as a more integrated part of Bournemouth and look at the history and bring it in to what they’re doing.
“We’re there to support the ward councillors as well, and whatever ideas they have, to help them come to fruition.”
Ideas include Kinson in Bloom, where residents, community groups and businesses will be encouraged to get involved with brightening up their part of the area. Another is to promote the Gulliver’s Trail, which tells the story of the area’s links to smuggling.
Bob said that hanging baskets put up in Wimborne Road this year – one simple idea that KBF pushed forward – had been well-received in sprucing up the area.
He added: “My main aim over the next year is to get all of the groups linked and working together.
“We’re trying to do things here for everybody.”