Stortford town centre traders vote for BID to unlock £900,000 investment
Traders in Bishop's Stortford have voted for a £900,000 boost for the town centre.
BID benefits for Stortford
The BID team will:
Work with East Herts Council to create a new consumer brand for Bishop’s Stortford.
Build a website to showcase everything from special events to availability of parking spaces in real time.
Create ‘A Feast of Flavours Festival’ celebrating the food and leisure offering of Bishop’s Stortford.
Organise a Festival of Light/Light Parade featuring schools, charities and community groups.
Inaugurate Gindependence Day celebrating the town’s long associations with the spirit, with tastings and historical tours.
Take the lead on achieving Purple Flag status for Bishop’s Stortford. This is a nationally-recognised standard for a safer night out.
Work with providers towards making car park bays free after 3pm to boost footfall in the evenings.
Actively promote and encourage a ‘park on my drive’ scheme to add parking capacity for town centre workers.
Ensure bus services offer optimum connectivity and maximum benefit for shoppers and businesses from the new estates under construction.
Provide parking marshals for Jackson Square car park and others to reduce congestion and queues at peak times.
Retailers, restaurants and service providers backed the launch of a five-year Business Improvement District (BID), with 86% of outlets which took part in the ballot in favour (88% in favour by rateable value).
Cllr Gary Jones, executive member for economic development at East Herts Council and the authority’s deputy leader, said: “We are delighted that the businesses in Bishop’s Stortford have voted to form a BID in the town centre.
“This will provide businesses with the opportunity to decide what improvements they want to make to their town and give them the funds to make these a reality.
“The BID will be run by a board, chaired by Karen Burton, and I look forward to inviting Karen as a representative of local business onto the Shaping Stortford team.”
The BID will now focus on delivering the three main priorities identified by businesses in the town: marketing and events, parking and accessibility, and backing business.
Actions include: Gindependence Day celebrating the town’s distilling heritage, parking marshals to ease congestion at peak times and joint purchasing schemes to cut business operating costs.
Over the past 18 months, a team of traders headed by Karen, of Karen’s Cakes at Northgate End, with solicitor Sam Cook, of Nockolds in Market Square, as her deputy. formulated a business plan.
Now they are eager to use the new investment of around £204,575.12 a year to turn their ideas into innovations which will breathe new life into the high street.
Karen, who has just celebrated 30 years in business, said: “I just want to get on with it now and just make sure everything we do is focused on the town positively. I’m looking forward to working with East Herts Council and just really doing things that will make a difference.”
Lindsey Trundle, who runs Click Click photographic studio in Potter Street, is also a member of the steering committee behind the BID and said: “It’s definitely what the town needs. Particularly as an independent trader, it’s good to know money is being spent on the things we think are important.
“I’m particularly looking forward to our parking issues being eased and the events putting the town on the map. It’s by the people of the town for the people of the town.”
Perry Colman, who runs Urban Spa in Devoils Lane and Elements in South Street with wife Jackie, is also part of the team. He said: “This is great news for Bishop’s Stortford. This will give us a strong stay as to what goes on in the town centre from the point of view of retailers.”
In order for the proposal to be successful at ballot, those voting in favour had to outnumber those voting against and the total rateable value of those properties in favour had to exceed the total against.
Only businesses with a rateable value over £10,000 were able to vote and will pay the annual levy of 1.5% of their rateable value up to a maximum of £15,000.
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More by this authorPaul Winspear