Bid underway to improve town business

A £50,000 bid could soon be launched to transform Ipswich into one of the country's first business improvement districts.Ipswich Partnership revealed its plans to bid for the town centre to become a business improvement district (BID), in line with new Government plans on the management of the country's town centres, this week.

A £50,000 bid could soon be launched to transform Ipswich into one of the country's first business improvement districts.

Ipswich Partnership revealed its plans to bid for the town centre to become a business improvement district (BID), in line with new Government plans on the management of the country's town centres, this week.

The scheme, which would need the backing of a majority of town centre businesses, would effectively hand management of the area to the businesses themselves, in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council.

Under the plans being considered by the Government, the BIDs would be a partnership between local authorities and businesses and they would provide extra services or improvements to an area.


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These would be funded by an additional levy raised on the business rate.

Paul Clement, head of Ipswich Partnership: "You establish a longer-term business plan which meets the needs of the people who operate in that (area).

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"It gives you the chance to be recognised not just as a local centre of excellence, or a regional centre of excellence but a national centre of excellence."

The partnership is itself committing £10,000 and plans to raise the remaining £40,000 needed for the bid.

Ipswich Partnership estimates it will take between 12 and 18 months to put a bid together.

Mr Clement said until that process was complete it was impossible to say what extra services and improvements businesses would implement.

He suggested possible changes could range from extra cleaning services, improved security measures to better marketing and promotion, however he stressed none of the new measures would duplicate ones already in place.

"It is for the business community first of all to decide what their priorities are," Mr Clement said.

"No bid could be launched without the support of the businesses in the area."

The final decision about whether the town centre becomes a BID would be made by business operators themselves in a ballot about the idea.

Mr Clement said: "Every ratepayer in the town centre would vote on whether they want the bid to be approved.

"It's handing the management of the town centre to the occupiers of the town centre."

In another step toward improving the town centre, Ipswich Partnership has commissioned research group New Horizons to complete a study detailing the potential profits for new businesses who set up in Ipswich in a bid to attract new investment.

Mr Clement added: "What our members want us to do even more of is to spend more time attracting new business to the town."

"What they (New Horizons) are looking at is where are the gaps in the Ipswich market."

What do you think about attracting new businesses to the town centre? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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