CuparNow – Our Quarterly Report
We must start by thanking all those businesses and organisations who have paid their 2022/23 levy. Nothing we do could be delivered without that support. And thank you to all who have put their ‘Proud to Support Cupar’ stickers in their windows: it is a great message to share with residents and visitors.
This quarterly update follows the themes used in our previous reports and covers April-June 2022.
The first quarter of our third year has been full of good news for the town and our district … from new businesses opening to a host of very successful events that have helped to showcase Cupar to thousands of people.
We are delighted to see for former Lloyds Pharmacy unit (next to Fisher & Donaldson on Crossgate) taken by North East Fife Tenants & Residents Association, a voluntary organisation working to ensure tenants and residents have a say in what is happening with their housing and community.
The town has welcomed two new businesses to Bonnygate – BASE Beauty Salon and Sunflower Gifts. A welcome addition to Eden Valley Business Park is Agricar, the long established agricultural machinery business who have taken the corner site as you enter the park, formerly occupied by Pentland Landrover.
The Fife Show was back and celebrating a major milestone. It pulled in record crowds. We were delighted to be able to feature organisers on a podcast recording as well as to film and share content from the day itself. Just click on the image below to read more … one of the stories we’ve created for our support of Scotland’s Year of Stories …
Another addition to our collection was our review of the Picnic in The Park – a wonderful day that attracted hundreds to the Haugh Park to enjoy a host of family-fun activities.
On the same day, the Cupar charity, The Sunshine Kitchen, welcomed visitors for a celebratory Afternoon Tea at the Corn Exchange … all contributing to Cupar’s commemoration of the Platinum Jubilee. Click below to read more.
More on our support for the community is covered later in this report. We wanted to highlight these two not only for the support they attracted from the public but also for the incredible collaboration of so many who gave of their time as volunteers. We know they would neither seek nor expect praise and congratulations, but we are happy to give both here!
By business, for business …
First and foremost, CuparNow exists to support the town’s businesses. Without their support, we would not be able to deliver any of the services provided. The 421 businesses who pay an annual levy ensure we are able to gather, create, schedule and share engaging content across all of our channels, seven days a week.
All the work we deliver is overseen by the CuparNow steering group – made up of business owners and managers in the town together with representatives from Bell Baxter High School and Fife Council (one elected members and one officer). You can read more on the steering group here.
Andrew Thomson of Southbridge Garage is our Chair. Whenever we hear of a new business opening, we deliver a letter from Andrew together with information that explains more on our work and support available. It also includes a breakdown on ‘how your levy is spent‘ – from the daily management of digital channels, the delivery of free public-realm Wi-Fi and the project’s data capture & management to the monitoring, analytics and reporting as well as the managed community fund. If you would like a copy of this information, please let us know via this link sharing your name, business/organisation and telephone number.
Our categorised business listings carry the details of businesses and organisations across the town. We have four main categories – each splitting into sub-categories to help visitors to the site find more. For some businesses, our listings are their only promoted digital presence.
We also have QR codes that are being shared on materials to help drive traffic to the same. In a world where all are increasingly familiar with the concept of scanning codes to access information, we know this is a route that will only help to support our audiences and benefit the businesses and organisations that are linked:
In support of businesses, we share regular B2B e-shot updates with those who are subscribed to receive them. We have more than 230 on our business database and 67% of recipients are ‘highly engaged‘ with the content we share.
If you run a business or organisation in the town and are not subscribed but would like to receive our updates, please email us to let us know via this link sharing your name, business/organisation and telephone number. We will then add you.
We have continued our weekly ambassador visits. Day by day, we are collating, gathering, creating and sharing content across the channels we manage. The Meta channels (Facebook & Instagram) are used most due to their scale and flexibility to promote content. We share content every single day and work hard to ensure businesses and organisations are represented evenly. On our rotation of coverage, every business should feature at least once every 6-7 weeks – so at least 7-8 times in the year: that coverage may be on our Blog, through our social media channels or via our e-shots. Openly, we say that those who engage the most with us will receive the best level of support and return on their investment – the messaging being of mutual benefit in enhancing audience growth, interaction and reach. Any business is able to contact us direct with requests for support – and many do so.
All of our content is anchored to our Blog where we share business profiles, breaking news, events and more. Recent profiles have featured the Trading Estate and Business Parks and – as part of our CuparNow KNowHow series showcasing the skills of those in the town – The Blind Company as well as Nappy Pin & Toymaster. Want your business to feature? Just complete the Blog Questionnaire via this link and we’ll be back in touch.
As part of our ‘by business, for business‘ delivery, we are operating in partnership with ABCD – the Association of Businesses in Cupar & Distict. All levy-paying businesses are now members of ABCD. The association – formed in 2004 – is led by James Hair, who became Chair 12 months ago. ABCD is involved in statutory consultations that affect the town and its businesses – not just in the town centre but across the whole of Cupar, including the business park and trading estate as well as the new retail park. Any business who does not wish to be a member of ABCD under this new arrangement can simply request not to be included.
The initiatives CuparNow has helped to deliver under this new partnership include:
- Town Guide Map – we have designed, printed and are distributing 20,000 guide maps. They incorporate trackable QR codes so we can share more information direct with users, allowing us to evaluate their usage ongoing. A number of businesses sponsored small ads on the guide – and we’d like to record our thanks to them.
- Poster Sites – we create posters from time to time that are on display at sites across Cupar. These also have QR codes that enable people to access information on eating out, shopping as well as the town’s huge array of services. If you have a site or sites where we can display posters – whether for your company’s staff to see or for the public’s benefit, please let us know by emailing us.
- Job Alert Form – listening to businesses’ feedback, we created and are sharing a ‘Job Alert Form’ that enables any business or organisation in Cupar to advertise upcoming part and full time jobs. It can be accessed via this link. Our work in this area has also led to us liaising with DYW Fife and a Business Breakfast is planned in August where employers will be invited to hear how they can best engage with the workforce of the future through work experience, training and internship opportunities. Click below for more including how to register.
This summer sees the return of The Open to nearby St Andrews. The 150th Championship will be the largest in its long history with a record-breaking 290,000 fans set to attend across the seven days. Crucially – for our area’s benefit – it is estimated than 60% of those visiting will look to return to north east Fife in the next 12 months.
To engage with those visiting this year and to help raise Cupar’s profile as never before, we created a TV campaign that will run through Q2 of this financial year. More will be included in our next report, but you can read up on the background to the campaign via this link and watch the TV commercial by clicking on the image below …
All of this delivery is designed first and foremost for the support of our levy-payers … businesses and organisations across the town who contribute to CuparNow through an annual levy. The vast majority pay £100.00 a year.
In the last year, more than 95% of businesses paid their levy. We have ‘bad debt’ built into our contingency. Those who have not paid or who refuse to pay impact negatively on our ability to support the town and our wider community. We remain open to meet with any business or organisation who has questions over CuparNow’s services and delivery.
Our channels and audiences …
Beyond our core business community, we support multiple audiences and they have continued to grow – across the board. As one part of our rolling agenda at each month’s Steering Group meeting we provide an update on each channel’s numbers.
- E-shot Databases:
- 230+ businesses and organisations
- 1,500+ subscribers who have signed-up to receiving our regular updates
- Our Podcast
Our combined digital audience is now 74,301. Our following across the town and wider catchment continues to grow: on Facebook alone, we know almost 33% of the town’s population follows our page. We also attract followers from across villages, towns and cities all within a 30-minute drive-time of Cupar.
Our Blog is an anchor for much of the content we share and enables us to invite those using social media and email channels to discover much more on the content we create and share. Our followers, readers, listeners and viewers act as our advocates, sharing content with their own family, friends and work colleagues … all helping to spread the word on Cupar.
The map below shows the readers of our Blog content published in just the last 12 weeks … readers in more than 300 cities across 61 countries.
At the very outset of the project, we have been mindful of the need to engage with and support multi-generational audiences. As we have reported before, a number of digital/social channels do not report data on audiences that are Under 18, so the following does not show a true representation, but – using the data we can research and report – we are very happy to be able to show that our delivery engages with audiences across every age group … and with significant numbers in each.
Any business – whatever sector they are in – is able to use our channels to reach and engage with these age groups ongoing, whether for sales of products and services or for recruitment.
In support of those living in and visiting Cupar, we continue to provide free Wi-Fi in public realm areas of the town centre. For clarity, we will repeat that this is NOT a service for business premises but for those in the public realm area of the town centre.
Those using the service – and many thousands have done so – are able to subscribe to receive monthly e-shots where we share news, promotions and events from the town.
We are able to see demographic data of those using the service and that is helping us to plan extensions to the network to support other parts of the town. To date, we have 1,538 subscribers. You do not have to be a Wi-Fi user to sign-up: if you are not on our e-shot list, you are able to join by clicking on the image below.
Hub & Spoke Support …
Our levy payers come first. As a result of the support we receive from the town’s business community, CuparNow is designed to deliver so much more for the benefit of multiple audiences across the town and our catchment.
This is our unique ‘hub & spoke’ approach, borne out of the Digital Towns Programme 2017-18 that led to the creation of CuparNow.
We have covered business support and our audiences.
The following takes each of the remaining spokes and updates on what has been delivered through the last three months.
Cupar has some 88 community groups and organisations and we continue to maintain the live database we created that sits on our Blog as Cupar’s Community Directory. We have also created a trackable QR code that links with the Directory, enabling all to share with a wider audience.
Hundreds of people make use of the directory every month – searching for information on the very wide range of groups, associations and clubs that provide all manner of activities across the town and our district.
More than twenty of the community groups helped to create the Cupar Forum – a collaboration of interested parties who helped to deliver Cupar’s Celebration Weekend 2021. Our part was to help in the communication and promotion of the events held. The group has continued to meet and, as a result of those involved, is planning a repeat of the Celebration Weekend on the third weekend of September 2022.
As a result of the same collaboration – as mentioned in our introduction – the town held a Picnic in The Park to mark the Platinum Jubilee. It was a huge success and saw many events and activities taking place to entertain those who supported the day. You can click on the image below to read more.
At Easter, we shared the news on Tarvit Woodland Park‘s fantastic event … you can read more by clicking on the image below:
We have helped to support all manner of fund raising events and initiatives through the last three months including a very special event held at Duffus Park in memory of Ciaran Reilly.
Ciaran took his own life at the end of last year: with the love and support of family and friends, Ciaran’s step Mum, Debbie, and Dad, Kev Reilly, started a campaign to hold a memorial football tournament in his memory. We recorded a podcast and shared more on our channels to help raise awareness. The day raised more than £6,000 for the mental health charity, Back Onside.
Our sponsorship of community stalls at the Fife Farmers Market has continued and you can read how our backing has enabled all kinds of groups to raise funds and awareness for their causes. The testimonials we have received from all attendees have been heartwarming: as just one example …
” … thank you and your team for helping us with the blog on CuparNow … I can’t explain how much everyone connected with Cupar Colts appreciates all the help and support we have received.”
All the community stalls for the rest of the year are taken and, based on this year’s undoubted success, we will be looking at how we can extend this project into 2023.
We continue to promote our Events’ Listing – open to all – enabling community groups to post upcoming events that, once checked, go live on our Blog’s calendar and are then shared via our channels to our audiences. You can submit your event by clicking on the image below …
Culture & Tourism
Cupar’s Year of Stories now features on our Blog with more stories be added all the time. The first – a digital version of the town’s heritage trail – was delivered with the help and support of the town’s Museum & Heritage Centre and has been well received. The project is expanding and submissions are invited from individuals and groups to tell us their Cupar stories – past, present and future. All are able to submit stories via our online form …
We were delighted to record a podcast with Museum Trustee, Guthrie Hutton, that is helping to make more aware of the Sir David Lyndsay proclamation … 470 years on from it being given in Cupar!
Similarly, we supported a series of online talks delivered by Cupar Development Trust celebrating Cupar’s place in the history of Old Scots. You can read more via this link – and connect to the YouTube recordings we made of the talks through the same page.
Also in partnership with Cupar Development Trust we have continued to promote the Food & Drink Trails created in 2021. Each of the trails starts and finishes in Cupar, ensuring we are helping to drive visitor numbers and interaction to the benefit of the town. A leaflet promoting the trails was produced in the last quarter. It was launched at an event in the town tied in with The Open and including a food showcase using produce from the town’s businesses – all delivered by Christopher Trotter.
The leaflets have been delivered to outlets across north east Fife generating hundreds of visits to the site enabling people to find so much more on the area’s provenance …
As highlighted in the business section, we have created a new Town Guide Map – that includes a revised Blue Plaque Trail in support of our town’s heritage sector. An online version is also now available to be shared by any business or organisation wit their own customers and visitors. It can be found via this link.
Education & Training
We continue to share content from all of the town’s education and training providers – from pre-school provision to further education as well as additional support.
Recently, we were delighted to be able to visit Bell Baxter High School to meet children and staff who have been involved in the official opening of their Department of Additional Support Wellbeing Garden. The school reports: “DAS pupils and staff were joined by invited guests including our new School Captains to the official opening of our DAS Wellbeing Garden. This was a very fitting end to a year of hard work by our DAS pupils in establishing a purposeful and mindful space.”
We visited when it was just a blank canvas a year ago – and it is wonderful to see the area now busting with vibrant colours, scents and textures … a real sensory experience. We are also proud that CuparNow – as a result of the support we receive from businesses contributing via an annual levy – was able to make the DAS Garden one of the projects helped by our Community Fund in the last year. See more via the short YouTube video we created when on site.
You can read more on their work via this link …
We have continued to offer advice and support to those businesses and organisations who ask for it on digital communication and best use of social media. If you run a business or organisation in town and require help and advice on your digital needs, please send us an email via this link with your questions or outline plans and we will be back in touch to set up a 1-2-1 meeting.
Wherever we can, we support environmental initiatives in the town: this has covered engagement with numerous partners and stakeholders.
As shared in our annual report, the core of CuparNow is to promote Cupar’s businesses – first and foremost to a local audience. Much is being written about ‘20 minute neighbourhoods‘. The very nature of our work is to push the #ThinkLocal message – to share with our growing audience that, whatever they need, they will find it in Cupar: food & drink, shopping, services – it is all available. The original thinking behind ‘20 minute neighbourhoods‘ was for that 20 minutes to be on foot or by bike. That expanded that to cover travel via public transport. Reality – especially in such a rural part of Scotland – means that we have adopted the 20 minutes to be a driving distance (as shown below).
Necessity means that – for Cupar – the town serves a rural catchment that mirrors that of Bell Baxter High School, including close to 60 villages across North East Fife … extending beyond the boundary shown above.
Increasingly, our work is helping to support initiatives across this area – such as the Heids & Herts project – a new local charity that’s looking at improving engagement across the Howe of Fife through creativity. You can read more via this link …
If you are involved in a project across Cupar’s catchment and think CuparNow might be able to help share your message to the benefit of our audiences, please get in touch via this link – letting us know your name, organisation as well as any projects you are managing that need support.
Health & Social Care
Our delivery has a social benefit – enabling residents and visitors to find information on the town’s offering and encouraging all to share the same.
As highlighted, we have published a new Town Guide & Map that’s available free of charge from outlets across Cupar. In designing the guide, it was pointed out that it would be useful for visitors to know the locations of all the defibrillators across the town. However, in our research, we discovered that there are more defibrillators than we can show as some are located beyond the town centre. And so we created a Blog to tell the story of how Cupar came to have defibrillators – and to share their locations for the benefit of all.
Other work that has touched on wellbeing …
- Although not within our district, we visited a project to discover more on what’s being provided to support those living with a diagnosis of dementia in and around Cupar – sharing via our Blog as well as on a podcast.
- Maria Robertson, a CA graduate apprentice at Cunningham Grant in Cupar, shaved her hair to raise funds for Support in Mind Scotland. We were pleased to be able to share Maria’s story.
- Support for a charity bike ride – the Tou d’Milt: Mike Cura, 57, David Cura, 53, and Graham Laing, 61, undertaking their epic cycle in a bid to raise £5,000 for Blood Cancer UK – all in memory of their “beloved brother, son, and uncle, Pete“.
- Sharing content to promote the Walk Leader initiative for Active Fife.
- Publicising the return of the Fife Forum – an action group as well as a social group/club campaigning for better rights, services and facilities for local older people.
We have also helped to support the local charity, Lucky Ewe – offering farm-based work experience for people with additional support needs. They contacted us after their request for a 25-year lease on publicly-owned farmland at NHS Stratheden – to provide an accessible farming base – was refused. The reason given for the refusal was that their request did not provide sufficient evidence of the level and nature of the community support for the proposals and/or demand for some of the proposed services. We helped them to create an online petition that, through our sharing, attracted hundreds of signatories in just over two weeks. That information has now been submitted as part of their appeal and they await a decision. Thanks to all who supported them
At the outset of CuparNow, our plan was to create a project that would deliver economic sustainability – first and foremost to the levy-paying businesses and organisations who enable our delivery and secondly – and as a direct result of the businesses’ support – to all those ‘spokes’ on our digital hub.
CuparNow continues to make a positive impact. Our daily managed, integrated digital and social media communication and support services are helping to put the town on the map as never before. As highlighted at the end of 2021 but well worth repeating, the town was listed as the most searched relocation destination for those seeking rural living in Scotland …
Cupar Now has been running since its demonstration phase in 2018-19. A critical part of the project’s remit has been to show how managed, integrated digital communication and support services “enable new, strategic collaboration” and “improve digital participation and skills“. Our services have been delivered uninterrupted – right through the lockdowns and restrictions experienced throughout 2020-21. The positive impact is clear: collectively, the strategic collaborations and improved participation are creating and sustaining a vibrant town centre that has placed Cupar as the most sought-after location for rural living in Scotland, and the second most searched destination in the UK+.
This year’s levy bills (covering April 2022 to March 2023) were issued in April. Thank you to all who have paid.
CuparNow is delivered by Destination Digital Ltd overseen by a steering group. Destination Digital Ltd has an operating agreement with Fife Council who invoice the Digital Improvement District annual levies and are responsible for collection of payments as well as chasing of non-payment. If at any time a business has a question regarding the levy, payment or the services provided by CuparNow, please use the contact information in the ‘need more’ section at the foot of this page.
We can report that £3,695.66 of the 2020/21 levy remains unpaid – just 4% of the projected annual income. A total of £4,690.76 of the 2021/22 levy remains to be paid. We will provide an update on monies owed in 2022/23 in our next report at the end of September. As we have said, the monies unpaid directly affect our delivery and support for the community but we work hard to mitigate that impact through working in partnership with those businesses and organisations who are keen to collaborate, amplify and support our work over and above any levy commitment.
Contact & further information …
Any business or organisation in and around Cupar can contact us at any time through a variety of channels – our social media channels, by email or phone. Just call 01334 870858, leave your name, nature of your enquiry and a number where we can reach you and we will call you back. We can arrange face to face (where possible), meetings via Zoom or just a chat to see how we can help.
If you have any thoughts or ideas on how we might improve our service, please let us know. And if you’d like your name to be put forward to join our Steering Group, please drop us an email explaining who you are, the business/organisation you own/represent and why you’d like to be on the group.
Finally, if you run a business and want to be keep up to date on all we are delivering, please make sure you are following us on the pages and channels most relevant to you.
If you have any questions, simply click here to email us, and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.
Our project’s background …
CuparNow is the UK and Scotland’s only digital improvement district. Destination Digital, the company delivering CuparNow, were appointed by the Scottish Government as consultants to research and report findings on the Digital Towns Programme 2017-18. More than 20 towns across Scotland fed into that programme – including Cupar – all asking how their towns could make the best use of digital to support multiple audiences: residents and visitors, businesses, community groups, culture & tourism bodies, education & training providers, environmental projects as well as health & social care support.
Based on the feedback from all, we proposed a hub & spoke model where all audiences would be supported through managed, integrated digital and communication and services. The crunch question was over funding as all traditional streams were short term – most for a 12 months project and no sustainable longevity. Having worked in destination marketing – with towns and cities across the UK – we recommended the ‘improvement district’ mechanism for funding whereby, if businesses backed the initiative with a majority of those voting (by number and scale), it would create a five year term to deliver all elements requested with an annual levy to be paid by all businesses and organisations whose properties have a non-domestic rateable value.
The Scottish Government accepted our recommendations and asked for a demonstration town to prove the concept: Cupar was selected for two key reasons: firstly, the town’s Business Association had been strong advocates for digital support and secondly, it is a typical market town with many similarities to other destinations of a similar size across Scotland. The project won seed corn funding to run a 16-month demonstration phase. A Steering Group of local business owners and managers – together with elected and officer representation from the local authority – oversaw and agreed to the Business Plan that was put to the ballot. The ballot was successful in creating the first Digital Improvement District, CuparNow, and we are now entering our third year of operation.
Thanks for reading.