Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Ambassadors will be on hand in Canterbury city centre to help visitors, shoppers and traders

Being approached in the city by someone in a dark uniform and hat is usually a sign you have committed a misdemeanour.

But visitors and shoppers can expect to be greeted with a smile and some helpful advice from a new team of ‘ambassadors’ deployed in Canterbury.

Dan Coles, Lauren Terry-Rose and Albina Gjergji have been taken on by the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), which levies traders to pay for city centre improvements.

Canterbury's new city centre ambassadors Daniel Coles, Lauren Terry-Rose and Albina Gjergji
Canterbury's new city centre ambassadors Daniel Coles, Lauren Terry-Rose and Albina Gjergji

The distinctive bowler-hatted team will meet and greet visitors, give them advice about the city and liaise with shopkeepers.

Former warehouse manager Dan, 30, said: “I have always been interested in history and geography and I love the city. Already the reaction to us has been very positive.”

Lauren, a 27-year-old who used to work for the city museums and tourist information centre, said: “I love interacting with the public and when I saw it advertised I thought ‘that’s the job for me’ .”

University of Kent graduate Albina, 23, also acted as a student ambassador, which has given her useful skills for her new job.

The BID has sub-contracted the team from The Welcome People, a company which provides ambassadors in 13 other towns and cities and recently won a silver award from Visit England.

Canterbury BID boss Bob Jones
Canterbury BID boss Bob Jones

BID chief executive Bob Jones says the scheme is another example of how the project is supporting traders using the £500,000 collected since its inception in October.

He said: “We believe our new city ambassadors will provide a really helpful service in the city and offer a friendly face to all those coming to Canterbury to shop and see the sights.

“By the end of June, when the floral hanging baskets are up, we will have delivered on all the pledges we made on how we would spend the BID levy from the 650 business who have contributed.

“We appreciate that people will want to see a tangible benefit from the levy and we know from sampling businesses that since it was established, footfall has increased and takings are up.

“It is a fact that in the future local authorities will have less and less money to spend on the nice things they are not legally obliged to, but we will have a city that is clean, pretty and welcoming.”

Mr Jones says traders will receive new levy bills at the same rate in October, but there will be an extra £30,000 available this year for Christmas lights.

New BID trustees chairman Clive Relf added: “We are very aware that it is local business people’s money we are spending and they will want to see results.
“I can see BIDs playing an increasingly important role in the future and there are others who are looking to follow Canterbury’s lead.”

Edd Withers, a PR guru at Republic Events and member of the BID board, predictably backs the scheme, saying: “These guys really will become part of the Canterbury furniture. So pleased to see them start.”

But Jasmine Wake, who runs Pure Magik in St Peter’s Street and was against the BID being introduced, was less enthusiastic.

She said: “It just seems like a silly gimmick to me to show something is actually happening on the street for the money we are paying out.

“I’ve not been told anything about these ambassadors but if their job is to approach and welcome shoppers and visitors, how will they know that person is not a local who knows the place like the back of their hand?”

Michel Piquet, who owns Cafe St Pierre in St Peter’s Street, added: “I like the idea of the new city ambassadors but my only observation is that their uniforms could look a little less official – and maybe more colourful.”

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More