Lincoln BIG – A New Era

Lincoln Business Improvement Group (Lincoln BIG) started life as Lincoln City Centre Management based at 24 Newland, a project concentrating on accessibility, investment, security, maintenance, activity and marketing, under the chairmanship of Patrick Keilthy, Manager of the Waterside Shopping Centre and managed by Matt Corrigan.

In 1999, Ursula Lidbetter OBE became Chair of Lincoln City Centre Management to oversee the development of the company.  In 2005 Lincoln became one of a small number of pilot towns and cities under new legislation allowing places to form a Business Improvement District (BID), if there was a mandate from businesses.  We were successful and since 2005 with Ursula’s excellent support and guidance, Lincoln BIG has achieved four successful BID ballots, voted by our levy payers and we have played a role in the successful expansion of BIDs across the country. 

It is with sadness that Ursula will be retiring as Director and Chairman of Lincoln BIG at our AGM on Tuesday 8th November.

The AGM will launch the start of a new era of management at Lincoln BIG. 

Firstly, we welcome John Latham as the new Chairman of Lincoln BIG.  John has been involved with Lincoln BIG since its inception, as Director of Development and Environmental Services for City of Lincoln Council.  In 2016 John joined the University of Lincoln as Director of DVC Projects and became a co-opted director of Lincoln BIG in 2018.  John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the company leading us to our fifth ballot in 2025.

Over the past 12 months, Simon Beardsley has been the Interim Chief Executive leading the team through a transitional period.  As of 1 November, Simon will take on the position of Managing Director, whilst continuing with his role as Chief Executive of Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce.  Lee Roberts will become Head of Operations, after his excellent contribution over the past year and we have created a new role for our Relationship & Operations Manager.  The Team will continue to deliver the Business Plan 2020 – 2025 with its four priorities of Welcome, Experience, Value, Projects.  Full details can be found at and our Annual Report 2021-22.

Ursula said, “I’ve been privileged to lead the Board of Lincoln BIG since its inception.  It’s a great model of collaboration by all the city’s businesses and institutions to make Lincoln a great place to be.  We’ve been fortunate to have strong leadership, great partnerships and support from businesses and residents for all our activities.  I can’t imagine Lincoln without Lincoln BIG. 

I’m very pleased that John Latham has agreed to take over from me as Chair.  His knowledge of the city and deep experience means we’re in good hands.”

John Latham, incoming Chairman of Lincoln BIG said, “I am delighted to be taking over as Chair of Lincoln BIG.  This is the start of a new era in more than one way. The management of BIG, working with Simon Beardsley and the team from the Chamber along with BIG’s existing staff, means that the partnership will be able to retain our focus on the interests of levy payers whilst working with colleagues from the Chamber.

Making the city centre a thriving and successful place for people to visit and work is at the core of BIG’s role in supporting businesses to succeed, ambitions the University shares as part of its commitment to driving growth in Lincoln.  These are challenging times for business and the partners, making the work BIG does more important than ever.

Lastly, I want to pay tribute to Ursula Lidbetter.  In her capacity both as Chair of BIG and as CEO of Lincolnshire Co-Op, Ursula has provided the leadership that has not only made the partnership work it has made a huge contribution to the success of the city.  She will be a hard act to follow.”