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Town’s traders to vote on plan to generate £800k to help revive businesses

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:11 25 August 2020

A BID project could generate £800,000 for investment in initiatives to bring more people to Felixstowe town centre and seafront Picture: GREGG BROWN

A BID project could generate £800,000 for investment in initiatives to bring more people to Felixstowe town centre and seafront Picture: GREGG BROWN

Traders in Felixstowe are being invited to take part in a project which will generate around £800,000 to improve their business and attract more people to shop, eat and visit the town centre and seafront.

Hamilton Road, Felixstowe - traders will be asked to vote on whether they support a BID project  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNHamilton Road, Felixstowe - traders will be asked to vote on whether they support a BID project Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

They will be asked this autumn to vote on whether to set up a BID – Business Improvement District – which tourism and economic leaders say could bring huge benefits, especially in helping with the recovery from the pandemic.

Four similar schemes already exist in Suffolk – in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft and Newmarket.

But the schemes come with a cost with traders being asked to commit to paying an increased levy on their business rates for the next five years.

This cash is then available to use for a series of projects and initiatives to promote the BID area, hold special events to attract visitors, and provide expert advice to help businesses to improve, with the project run by an independent, not-for-profit company.

Craig Rivett, deputy leader of East Suffolk District Council and cabinet member for economic development, says a BID in Felixsrtowe could help claw back trade lost during the panedemic Photo: East Suffolk District Council.Craig Rivett, deputy leader of East Suffolk District Council and cabinet member for economic development, says a BID in Felixsrtowe could help claw back trade lost during the panedemic Photo: East Suffolk District Council.

Felixstowe Forward change director Helen Greengrass and Moasaic Partnership, which has helped manage the development of the project. have been working with traders for the past two years.

In a report to East Suffolk Council’s cabinet on September 1, Craig Rivett, cabinet member with responsibility for economic development, said: “The Felixstowe BID Business Plan outlines an overall direct investment of £740,000 in the development, marketing, and improvement of Felixstowe’s businesses over the next five years.

“This funding represents a significant investment in the Felixstowe BID area and one which provides an opportunity for the BID to lever in additional investment via the Local Enterprise Partnership and other funding bodies.

Hamilton Road in Felixstowe is currently closed daily from 10am to 4pm to traffic to help make shoppers feel safe and encourage them to visit Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLHamilton Road in Felixstowe is currently closed daily from 10am to 4pm to traffic to help make shoppers feel safe and encourage them to visit Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

“BIDs on average generate 15% in additional income and the Business Plan assumes an additional income of £111k.”

Mr Rivett said proposals put forward in the BID business plan showed more than half the money wodl be spent on local and visitor marketing.

He added: “The business plan provides an opportunity to address the current challenges, arising from the continuing decline in high streets, nationally, which has been exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic. The Felixstowe BID will provide businesses in the area with the ability to raise significant funds to invest in agreed, positive priorities which will boost trade in their area, and generate wider economic and social wellbeing.”

The ballot takes place once all businesses have been consulted and creates an indication that there will be “a strong vote in favour” of establishing a BID.

Helen Greengrass of Felixstowe Forward has been working with traders for two years on the BID project Picture: SIMON PARKERHelen Greengrass of Felixstowe Forward has been working with traders for two years on the BID project Picture: SIMON PARKER

The vote is scheduled to be held between October 13 and November 11 and more than half of those liable to pay the levy need to vote in favour for it to succeed.

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