Letchworth businesses to discuss BID investment

BUSINESSES will meet to discuss the possibility of investing in a community partnership which could help shape a town’s economic future.

An annual business forum meeting will be held at The Broadway Hotel in Letchworth GC on October 16 to explore whether companies in the town centre are in favour of setting up a Business Improvement District (BID).

Under the plans businesses would contribute to a fund which, over a five-year period through to 2018, would be used to pay for projects and services to improve trade.

All businesses in the Letchworth BID would have to pay, with each company’s levy decided according to current rateable values.

If the proposal gains enough support a ballot will be held in February 2013 to determine whether to proceed with the BID, with a feasibility study currently being carried out by Letchworth Town Centre Partnership.

“At last year’s forum businesses were keen to do something to make a difference in their town,” said Letchworth GC town centre manager Lee Boswell.

“Hopefully at the next forum on October 16 we can start to decide what exactly those actions are and whether there is an appetite to embrace the idea of a BID.

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“It’s important to remember the BID is a business-led initiative. It is up to businesses in Letchworth to decide if they want to progress with the idea and what the aims of the BID will be.”

Annie and Richard Vernon, directors for Annie’s Chocolate Emporium and Annie’s A Touch of Glass, in The Arcade, are in favour of starting a BID.

“Both Annie and myself think it’s a damn good idea,” said Mr Vernon.

“We think it could be a step forward through a democratic process which is a good thing.

“But it would be a levy on all businesses which makes sure everyone pays their share.

“I think that’s really advantageous as people are happy to benefit but not always pay so it makes it fair.”

Paul Wallace, owner of David’s Bookshop and David’s Music in Eastcheap, added: “In principal it’s a good idea and anything that gives us more power to influence what we need to do together is always a good thing.

“My only reservation is that a business like ours has a high rateable value so I’m not entirely convinced that it’s going to be cost effective for us. But having said that I’m not against the idea.”

For more information visit www.lgcbid.com

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