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More Support for Town Centre as Council Backs BID

September 19, 2019 5:03 PM

Silver Street in Bedford Town Centre on a Busy Shopping DayMayor Dave Hodgson's Cabinet is backing a further five-year term for the Bedford Business Improvement District (BID), in another demonstration of its commitment to the town centre.

The BID is funded by businesses themselves, and delivers projects or services to improve the trading environment. Each BID term lasts for 5 years, and with the current term expiring in March 2020 a ballot of BID Levy payers is taking place this autumn to determine whether it will continue.

The Council has 27 votes in the ballot on the basis of its eligible non-domestic properties in the town centre BID area, and at its meeting on Wednesday night the Council's Executive resolved to cast those votes in favour of the proposal for a 2020 - 2025 BID.

Should the proposal be approved by a majority in the ballot, the Council will contribute £48,071 annually via its BID levy for activities to boost trade in the town centre.

Commenting, Bedford Borough Council Executive Member for Town Centres Cllr Henry Vann said: "Our town centre is backed by traders, independent businesses and larger shops and businesses with creativity and passion as their bedrock. It is only right that we should back them by maintaining the BID which will in turn mean continued investment in measures to make the town more enjoyable and prosperous for all.'

"Town centres across the country are facing a crisis, and in Bedford we need to continue to stay ahead of the huge challenges for all UK high streets. That means working together to generate an even more attractive offer is presented to current and potential town centre visitors.

"I'm particularly encouraged by the commitment to collaboration with partners and to fostering community spirit in support of the town. Bedford is lucky to have a huge number of people and groups who care about their town and want to see it succeed, and we need to work together in that cause."

The proposal for BID 4 sets out a wide range of improvements and initiatives, including:

  • physical measures and cultural initiatives under the High Street Heritage Action Zone project
  • the extension of BID schemes to adjoining areas such as Midland Road,
  • education and training for businesses

The new BID period would also see more smaller businesses exempt from the BID Levy, with the threshold at which firms are liable to pay rising by nearly 50%, from a rateable value of at least £8,100 to £12,000.

A postal ballot of business ratepayers within the defined area of the BID is underway, with the votes required to be received by 5pm on 17 October 2019. In order for the renewal to be agreed the majority of the votes received must be in favour of the proposal and the sum or the rateable values for the properties in respect of which a vote in favour is received must exceed the sum of those properties for which a vote against is received.

If the renewal is agreed, all eligible properties will be required to pay 2% of their rateable value, equating to c. £425,000 pa