Association of Barbican Businesses (ABB)

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Welcome to the home page of the Association of Barbican Businesses (ABB)

Association of Barbican Businesses
Chairperson: John Cabello
Vice Chair: Robert Hodges
Vice Chair: Michelle Chambers
Treasurer: Mathias Landwehr
Secretary: Kathy Lingardll

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The ABB has been running for over 30 years. It is an organisation setup by local traders from across the Barbican area with the aim of working together to help the Barbican from discussing local issues to organising events like the ABB Barbican Easter Egg Hunt,the ABB Raft Race and Halloween on the Barbican.

The members of the ABB are a friendly group and all are passionate about the Plymouth Barbican area.

If you’d like to find out more or would like to join the ABB please contact the secretary Kathy Lingard via


By Benjamin Shearn

ABB – AGM Chairs Report – 9th May 2018

It has been a pleasure to represent the independent businesses on the Barbican for the last ten years, many of you will have heard me given an annual report before as it is set out in the ABB’s legal Constitution, but today is my last report as I step aside to allow new blood to take on the position.  I am excited for what Mayflower 400 will bring to the area.

Such a varied, eclectic and innovative group of individuals, not all attend every month but many watch and read the Minutes with interest, I thank you all for your support.

I would especially like to thank Kathy, Clare, Lizzy and Norman for their endless enthusiasm and support over the last decade.

This group have managed to stay upbeat and professional even in the face of negative remarks and criticism from a few businesses who wish to blame everyone and anyone for failing profits before self-reflecting, even criticising the voluntary work of some when they contribute or attend little themselves.

Kathy and Clare – thank you.

When I took over the ABB I worked to raise the creditability of this unique group of businesses.  With the assistance of Foot Anstey Solicitors, we created a legal constitution and with the great help of Kathy we ensure governance has been adhered to.  This work put the ABB in front of the Council, giving us access to Council executives so our voices could be heard and the group respected.

Probably the best example of this is funding events on the Barbican.  The events that take place down here are not a God’s given right. I introduced the creator of the Pirates Weekend, who was an ABB member, to the Council and helped convince them to fund the first event.  Since then I have lobbied the PWP to grow the budget each year including the Christmas Lights switch on.  When other budgets have had to be cut, I’ve ensured that these events were ring fenced.  In fact, the Barbican has over 80% of the total PWP events budget spent within the area.

Other events the ABB have achieved over the years are the Raft Race where we have brought in a Charity to grow the event with insurance being covered by the PWP.  Bunny Bingo, which with very little financial input, Clare and other members managed to attract over 150 family entrants at short notice.  Halloween, again spear headed by Clare managed to attract over 400 entrants.  The Halloween event by its nature has the criteria to win Mayflower 400 funding and I hope that someone is able to continue to take this forward in Clare’s absence.

Thanksgiving in my early years as Chair – we managed to pull a great event together, culminating in the event being broadcast live on the One Show.  Unfortunately, not many businesses supported this event so we passed it to the PCC, where it has had various guises and now they have asked the ABB to take control and organise it again for the next three years.  I hope that there are volunteers to take this forward.

We created an Elizabethan weekend at which we brought in the first tall ship, a 100-foot square rigger from Charlestown.  I managed to secure funding from the PCC and still have links now with the ships.

We must mention the legendary Christmas parties – a special thanks to Norman for organising many fabulous Christmas get togethers for members.  Hopefully social gatherings will continue?

Another strong marketing tool we the ABB have created is the annual production of a map.  This has been very labour intensive but thanks again to Clare and Chris Robinson and the PWP.  We have been able to circulate some 50k maps, emphasising tourist attractions and not necessarily businesses.  Advertising has helped funds this and we accepted both members and non-members when they approached us with a willingness to advertise, for example the NMA.

We have lobbied relentlessly for the re-instatement of the bridge.  I have personally raised the topic to leaders in the Council several times and I believe that a repair plan is finally in place with a shared investment from a group of organisations, including the PWP.  The Council’s biggest challenge was if it funded the repair of a PLC’s asset with tax payer’s money they would have been heavily criticised by many Plymouth residents, especially when despite many pleas only three businesses actually wrote to the PCC and Sutton Harbour demanding reinstatement.

I supported another ABB member at various high-level meetings with the PCC when he was struggling to get permission for his land train proposal.  Eventually we won permission and I even ended up investing financially when funds ran out before launch day.

I lobbied our Council leader personally and stopped further removal of the word “Barbican” from brown signage.  When it was brought to our attention by ABB members we created a committee of ABB members who kept the pressure on to ensure no further removal took place.

I have formed links to the newly created “Hoe Residents Committee”.  This legally supported group are fully aware of our aspirations and the residents kept abreast of events so they support the area fully.  Through the group I have introduced the ABB to the “Plastic Free Plymouth” group, opened links with the SAS Plastic Free Oceans/ Food Plymouth/Fresh2Food sustainability and the Barbican Residents Group.   I will be on hand to introduce these groups to any volunteers from the ABB as I feel we are all at a very interesting marketing point with these.

The ABB and myself personally have lobbied for improvements in the public realm before 2020.  Of the agreed improvements such as pavements, railings, toilets etc the reinstatement of the Elizabethan House is a great additional tourist attraction for us on the Barbican and second only to the museum “Box” in substantial financial investment from the PCC for 2020.

But then there’s the B word, BINS.  I have continually emailed and lobbied the PCC for improvements in the number of bins.  Finally, I assisted personally in putting a paper together with the support of the leader of the Council which was to be circulated to all bin company providers, enforcing the removal of all bins from the pavements and back streets.  Unfortunately, the said leader is no longer in charge but through the links with the aforementioned groups such as “Food Plymouth” I am confident the notion will still come to fruition, with a strong confident and diplomatic Chair to make this a “cross party” agreement.  Good Luck!!

The ABB haven’t been happy with the flowers on the Barbican.  I am pleased to report that the ABB can now take ownership of the flowers and receive a £3000 budget from the PWP for their installation and managing for a year.  This will take many volunteers and good management so I will hand details over to the new Chair on appointment.

Finally, I believe improvements through investment comes from relationship building, respect and maintaining professional focus.  A close eye needs to be kept on governance to maintain gravitas.  We should be careful not to misrepresent, misquote or aggrieve the MP’s and leaders in the Council.  The process is slow but it does work.

I have learnt a lot in the 25 years of self-employment on the Barbican – there has been a lot of highs and lows and with any business growth but overall I have enjoyed every minute and will maintain membership with the ABB and involvement where possible.

I own holiday apartments here on the Barbican so I am still as keen as ever for the success of the Barbican and for continual investment from the PCC, I will remain on the PWP Legal Board so will of course be championing the Barbican round that table.

Heres to the Barbican, thankyou!

Ben Shearn

Current Members of the Association of Barbican Businesses (ABB) – 2018

45 Southside Gallery
Armada Framing
Art 2 Frame.. Glass!!
Attwell Martin
B Bar
Barbican Prints
Barbican Theatre
Blues Bar & Grill
Capn Jaspers
Chris Robinson
Crown & Anchor
Eddystone Media (Barbican Waterfront Website)
Ellwell Chocolates
Flower Cafe
Gog & Magog
Gosh & Absolutely
Jacka Bakery
Kaya Gallery
Little Barbican Boutique
National Marine Aquarium
Parade Antiques
Pilgrims Ice Cream Limited
Pin and Pose
Plymouth Boat Trips
Plymouth Gin
Plymouth Land Train
Plymouth Museums – Elizabethan House
Pre Owned
Rockpool Trading
So Perfect Images
The Dolphin
The Jewellers Ltd
The Treasury Group
Tourist Information Centre
Victoria Sewart Contemporay Jewelley Gallery
White Lane Lets