ABERYSTWYTH businesses have voted in favour of introducing a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town centre.
The ballot was won by 97 votes in favour, with 84 businesses voting against the proposal. 45% of those eligible to vote did so, which is slightly higher than the national average of 40%. It is hoped that the BID will improve Aberystwyth as a destination to work and visit.
A voluntary steering group comprising of Aberystwyth businesses under the banner of Advancing Aberystwyth was set up and has led the process to establish the BID. The group will now form a ‘not for profit’ company from all eligible businesses in the town – those that will be paying the levy – regardless of how they voted in the ballot. The BID company will deliver targeted projects and services that are new, unique and not delivered currently by any other agency or organisation.
Advancing Aberystwyth seeks to develop a five year programme of improvements in the town centre by collecting a levy from all eligible businesses. It is envisaged that there is the potential to collect just over £700,000 between 2016 and 2021 to invest in a comprehensive programme of improvements. Every effort will be made to match this sum with funding from other sources.
It will be funded by a 1.25% levy on the rateable value (RV) of all eligible hereditaments, or business units, within the defined BID boundary if that business has a RV of £6,000 or more. Businesses with a RV below this threshold will be exempt from voting and paying the BID levy.
Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic and Community Development, said: “By voting in favour of the BID, Aberystwyth business owners have demonstrated their appetite to make changes locally on the issues that are of importance to them and, in so doing, to improve the town centre. This is an exciting time for Aberystwyth, and I am very grateful for the efforts of Advancing Aberystwyth for their perseverance in bringing the BID to fruition.”
Tony Bates from Morris & Bates Solicitors is a member of theAdvancing Aberystwyth Steering Group, he said: “Now the hard work really begins and I do hope that we can attract to the Board of the new BID company people with vision, business acumen, and a real belief in Aberystwyth as a wonderful place to live and work. Paradoxically I should also like to see business people who voted “no” in the ballot to come forward in order that we may have a Board of Directors comprising a dynamic and wide ranging spectrum of ideas and personalities.”
The programme will focus on access and connections such asimproving access and availability of parking and installing free Wi-Fi. It will look at marketing and promotion and deliver PR campaigns and build relationships with the local press. It will create a stronger business community by developing business incentives and mentoring schemes, and strengthen relationships by working with local authorities, and existing initiatives to tackle crime.
All these services will be in addition to those already provided by Ceredigion County Council and Aberystwyth Town Council.