Ipswich BID plan for town centre improvements takes step forward

Ipswich Waterfront is in the Ipswich Central BID area.

Ipswich Waterfront is in the Ipswich Central BID area. - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

Proposed improvements to Ipswich town centre have been given a boost after councillors backed a five-year extension of the BID project.

It will mean provision of street rangers, CCTV and free public Wi-Fi will go forward into a ballot alongside other businesses and organisations on November 25.

Ipswich Borough Council's executive voted on Tuesday by six to one in favour of the council backing the extension of the Ipswich Central BID (Business Improvement District) continuing from April 2022 to March 2027.

The BID is funded by a levy on top of business rates in the BID zone, and helps fund key services such as the town centre rangers, a radio link between stores, funding for the Christmas tree and events and promotion among other benefits.

If approved in the final ballot, the new BID will also include additional services such as a £50,000 investment in the town’s CCTV network, letters sculptures across the town to provide ‘Instagrammable moments’ and a revival of the Stoke Bridge area of town.

Businesses in the BID area above the rateable value threshold of £24,500 will pay a BID levy of 1.75% on top of their business rates.

Ipswich Borough Council has 24 eligible outlets for the BID levy, which means it gets to vote in the final proposals.

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Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “There is a strong theme in the business plan around making the town safer, such as street rangers, radio link and taxi marshals, a new proposal for this BID period with a contribution of £10,000 per year to the council’s CCTV system.

"The vast majority of the proposals in the business plan are in full alignment with the council’s priorities, and we do welcome them.

“I would even go further – if Ipswich Central were not providing some of these services – especially those related to public safety – then I believe there would be pressure from members of the public for someone else, most likely the borough council, to do so.

“It is clear it would cost the council much more than our proposed levy payment to replace those services.”

Conservative group leader Ian Fisher, voted against the proposals, and said: “I am not particularly sure in this current climate we should be asking businesses to pay such a huge increase in their levy.”