Letchworth businesses speak out over BID proposal

Retailers and businesses out over plans for a business improvement district (BID) in Letchworth GC

Retailers and businesses out over plans for a business improvement district (BID) in Letchworth GC - Credit: Archant

BUSINESS owners have spoken of their thoughts on a proposal to pool resources in a bid to benefit their town.

Last Thursday, 70 retailers and businesses met to discuss proposals to create a Letchworth BID (business improvement district).

Under proposals, business owners would pay a levy which would then be put back into the town and initiatives.

David’s Bookshop owner Paul Wallis, who attended the meeting, said: “It was a very heated debate and in principal I do support the proposal of working together and I think it could be a good thing.

“It needs to be commercially viable and I do have reservations about the cost and the effectiveness of what is being proposed.”

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Studies, business forums and surveys have been undertaken in Letchworth GC to establish whether retailers and businesses would like to support plans.

Jenny Jones, owner of The Green House Community Market, said: “If this does go ahead I would want it to be democratic and accountable but on the whole I think it is a good idea and would improve the town.”

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All funds collected from the BID levy, payable by businesses within a geographical area, would be ring-fenced and would only be used to fund the activities as agreed and voted on by the businesses within the BID.

Annie Vernon, owner of Annie’s Chocolate Emporium, said: “I think it would be great for the town and by having the BID there will be more going for it.”

If businesses in Letchworth GC vote in favour of the BID, the partnership could look to bring in free parking after 3pm in the town, something which has been done by the Hitchin equivalent.

Other things the money would be spent on would be improving marketing and promotion, putting on more events in the town, research into improving the retail mix, and help for new start-up businesses.

Letchworth GC town centre manager Lee Boswell said: “We were really pleased with the level of participation in this year’s forum. It was clear the desire to see Letchworth’s fortunes improve was unequivocal and business owners and operators were not shy from stating how they felt this could be achieved.

“The results of the business forum will now feed into the development of the BID business plan which will be re-presented at a future meeting. This will be the chance for businesses to decide if this is the path they would like to take.”

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