A BID no vote would see Weston ‘regress’ says town centre figure

A leading figure behind an ambitious town centre initiative has said Weston would ‘regress’ if traders fail to vote yes to the Business Improvement District (BID.

Steve Townsend, who is Town Centre Manager and spearheading the BID scheme told The Echo that Weston couldn’t afford a no vote, adding that with a number of capital projects coming to fruition around the town the BID initiative would be the operational icing on the cake:

“I believe a no vote would be a disaster and if it happens the town will regress. With all the capital projects being implemented such as the re-development of Dolphin Square and the seafront enhancement we need an operational plan put in place to make sure litter is cleared up, anti-social behaviour is reported and people see Weston as a place to invest in and visit.

“The BID would act in addition to the work carried out by North Somerset Council and the police, but it’s no secret that both authorities are experiencing cuts to their budgets. So as a business community we need to do our bit by agreeing to contribute a small sum each year to make the town a better place.”

The Weston BID is an initiave launched to raise a pot of cash which will be used on a number of initiatives to improve the Town Centre. It can only go ahead if more than half of eligible traders vote in favour of it and this is made up of at least 51 per cent of the businesses’ combined rateable value.

If they do, firms in the Business Improvement District will be asked to pay 1.5% of their rateable value into a common pot which will then be used to implement the Weston BID programme.

All 703 businesses have been sent a 24 page bid plan, which is the result of months of consultation and survey taking with traders in the town to find out what they’d like to see done to improve the area. The plan will outline how much money there will be and how it will be spent.

Steve explains in more detail what the plan contains and what would happen if the ballot is successful:

“If we get a yes vote we would initially look to set up a team of wardens. They would have access to a truck and equipment such as a snow plough and jet wash so they can pounce on problems, such as litter, dog mess and icy-pavements before they escalate. They would also work to alleviate anti-social behaviour.

“We also want to use the extra cash to put on a series of events throughout the year, such as music events, triathlons even a mock Monaco Grand Prix.

“At the moment we have the Enduro, Carnival and T4 which are great events but tend to just benefit specific pockets of traders in the town. We’ve based the plan on the feedback we’ve received from traders.”

All 703 businesses in the town centre, both big and small, have the chance to vote in the postal ballot, which opened on February 1 and will close at the end of that month.

Similar BID plans have been rolled out in Broadmead and Bath and The Echo understands that a should yes vote be the outcome in Weston, the town centre will be split into six zones. With one representative from each zone sitting on a steering committee alongside Steve, and representatives from North Somerset Council and the Town Council.

Everyone on the steering committee will be elected democratically and once formed it will ensure the BID plan is implemented.

Steve Townsend is Town Centre Manager and one of the leading figures behind the BID. To find out more about the bid visit: http://www.wsmtcp.co.uk/weston-bid.htm

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