Local businesses are being promised ‘major change’ as they’re asked to take to the ballot to vote for another five years of Stratford BID.
It is hoped the bold new 18-point plan – including stepping up police patrols – will win the confidence of 382 traders to secure a fourth term for the body, from April 1st.
Other pledges include introducing a calendar of new events; an evening economy strategy; training and seminars for independent businesses; extending the Park of Ride scheme; creating a new Food and Drink Guide and map as well as a new Independents Guide and Professional Services Guide for the area; relaunching the Stratford Lifestyle Magazine and relaunching the existing BID Area Employee Discount Card to an app.
The board have also committed to the continuation of the Motor Festival, Food Festival and Christmas Lights switch-on event as well as support for events delivered by other stakeholders.
It comes as the board announce they are extending the BID area to include The Maybird Shopping Park. This, they say, is ‘in response to police recommendation for a co-ordinated approach to successfully tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.’
All the changes have been made in response to feedback from local businesses as well as an independent review commissioned by the BID earlier this year. Deadline for votes is 5pm on February 22nd and The district council will be informed of the results of the ballot the following day.
Bid Chairman Rich Jones said: “Stratford-upon-Avon has held Business Improvement District (BID) status since 2009 and I truly believe that retaining a BID is vital to the success of a thriving town centre and a well-connected business community. With nearby BIDs in Leamington Spa, Coventry, Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Oxford we cannot afford to lose BID status after 15 years and I would urge local businesses to Vote Yes to a new five-year term and for a BID that has a renewed outlook and a new set of initiatives to deliver.
“I would like to reassure local levy payers that Stratford-upon-Avon BID company is listening to local businesses on the future direction of the BID and we have made some major changes in recent months. This includes restructuring to ensure the BID is in line with industry best practice with a lean and efficient staffing structure. We have also restructured the Board and it is now made up of local businesses, as a business-led organisation should be.
“We are pleased to announce that we have committed to funding additional town centre police. This initiative will enable businesses to have direct contact with the Police within the town centre, using the existing BID radio system, to address issues that affect them.
“Town centres across the UK have been impacted by Brexit and the Covid pandemic and we appreciate that businesses are struggling. This is why we have taken the decision to bring the BID levy minimum threshold up to a rateable value of £15,000, in line with Small Business Rates Relief, meaning that a further 110 businesses will be exempt from paying BID levy for the next five years unless they choose to pay for voluntary BID Membership. This is not excluding smaller businesses but rather giving them the option of contributing and being involved, whilst all still benefitting.
“We recognise the importance of constructive feedback and we value support from local business owners, this is why we have allocated new places on the board for businesses to join the board in 2024 and act as additional representatives for local businesses.”
The BID board has been slimmed down from 16 to seven representatives, asking three councillors and three council officers to stand down as directors and observers, while making way for three new board positions for representatives from the retail and hospitality sector.
Rich added: “The last five years have been very tough for everyone, as the country was first coming to terms with the post-EU reality, the pandemic hit and, many argue, changed things forever. Whether you adhere to that view, Covid certainly meant long periods of commercial inactivity and far fewer people in destinations like ours that rely upon visitor activity. Today, there are signs of sustained recovery, though it is likely to be a bumpy road that lies ahead.
“We hope that businesses in Stratford-upon-Avon will vote to retain some of the current BID initiatives and support our new plans for the next 5 years. This is an exciting time for the town centre and we invite you to back the BID and Vote ‘Yes.’ ”
The full BID business plan is available to view here