Boost for resort as traders agree £600,000 project plan to attract shoppers
PUBLISHED: 16:40 12 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:40 12 November 2020
Traders in Felixstowe have voted in favour of a project to generate £600,000 to improve their business and attract more people to shop, eat and visit the town centre and seafront.
Businesses and organisations in the town made their voices heard in a ballot – voting in favour of taking more control over their future by setting up a Business Improvement District (BID).
Ballot results released by the independent scrutineer, Civica Election Services, revealed that 57% of all those who voted are in favour of the BID progressing.
For the BID to be successful, a second trigger ‘majority by rateable value’ was also required and this was achieved with 61% of those who voted.
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It will mean all eligible businesses will pay a levy of 2% of the rateable value of the business each year, generating £600,000 over the next five years. Small businesses, with a rateable value of less than £5,000, will be exempt from paying.
Felixstowe Forward change director Helen Greengrass said 280 businesses had been eligible for the ballot and just under 30% had taken part, which was not an unusual turnout for a first BID vote though less than the 40% national average. It was likely to be higher in five years’ time for renewal when people could see the benefits.
She said: “It is my view that the businesses and everyone involved have together taken a leap of faith and dared to do things differently in Felixstowe. Equally though we face uncharted challenges in the face of Covid and if ever there was a time to do things differently it is now, and I am confident that Felixstowe will reap the greater rewards by woking collectively. It goes of course without saying that I am delighted with the outcome.”
The BID Task Group, a consortium of local businesses which have been leading its development, said: “This is a fantastic result for Felixstowe and we would like to say thank you to those involved in bringing it about. Businesses have taken the bold decision to invest, particularly in these challenging an uncertain time. The real work begins now, and we are determined to make sure that we are the forefront of the recovery and growth.”
Steve Wiles, assistant cabinet member for economic development at East Suffolk Council, said: “There are no winners and no losers in this process, there can only be winners. The winners will be the retailers themselves, the businesses themselves and the community as a whole. Working together will bring change and opportunities to the whole of Felixstowe and will not only improve but harmonise the whole of the town.”
It is anticipated that the BID will commence from April, 2021, for a five-year term and will be financed through the BID levy, the proceeds of which will be invested into the town centre and seafront on the additional projects that businesses have identified and set out in a business plan.
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