Posted: 08/06/10 by Northampton Borough Council
Businesses in Northampton are being asked to vote on proposals for a Business Improvement District (BID) for the town centre.
BIDs see businesses coming together to jointly invest in improvements to make their town centres more exciting and attractive places to visit. There are more than 100 BIDs in towns across the country, in places like Rugby, Coventry and Birmingham – a local successful example is the Brackmills Industrial Estate.
Where BIDs are formed, businesses have the power to manage their own trading environment, funded by a small levy – about 1% - on their business rates. This creates a pot of money that they can use to deliver extra services that they would jointly choose to give our town an edge.
In a survey of 475 businesses in Northampton town centre, allmost half of them (48%) responded and the vast majority of those who did (84%) supported the plan. Responses showed businesses were interested in initiatives such as providing more marketing and promotion and investing in making the town cleaner and safer.
A steering group of 20 businesses has now been established, chaired by Stephen Chown of Chown’s Commercial, with Neil Bartholomey of Northampton Pubwatch as deputy. The steering group will work throughout the summer to develop and promote the business plan within the local business community before putting the BID proposal to a vote in October.
Towns where BIDs have been established have seen more visitors, reductions in crime and safer shopping. If successful, the BID will have a life of five years, after which local businesses will be asked to vote on whether it should stay in place.
Stephen Chown said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses based in the town centre to enable specific and measurable improvements to the environment in which we live, work and shop. As a self-funded, broad-based lobby group the BID will ensure the Borough Council maintains their service level agreements even as budgets are squeezed and improve the town’s standing as a destination for business, retail and leisure.”
The BID is funded and supported by Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire Enterprise Limited who are working in partnership with Partnership Solutions to set up of the BID.
Cllr Brian Hoare, Leader of NBC and also Chair of the Town Centre Partnership, said: “Northampton is a town with a great history and we are strongly supporting local businesses in every way we can to make sure that it is a town with a vibrant future as a commercial centre.
“We have a great example of a successful BID in Brackmills and it’s encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm that has already been generated among town centre businesses. This is their chance to grab the initiative and really get involved in delivering the improvements in the town centre that we all want to see.”
Speaking about the BID in Brackmills, John Corrigan, Chair of the Brackmills Executive Board spoke about its achievements, which could be emulated in the town centre.
“We are proud of the improvements and initiatives which we have collectively put in place since establishing our BID status a year ago. Not only does the estate look better, but there is an exciting and ever increasing sense of real community among businesses and employees. Our new website enables businesses and employees to share information and ideas, we hold joint events, have a new liftsharing scheme and BID monies are responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of CCTV and ANPR cameras which were installed on the estate by our funding partners.
“We are set to pool over £2million of funds over the five year BID period, money which we will continue to use to fund and create an environment for business to operate more effectively and profitably in.”