Firms in BID to tackle crime

FIRMS in Witham hope to clamp down on crime by creating a Business Improvement District (BID).

FIRMS in Witham hope to clamp down on crime by creating a Business Improvement District (BID).

Local businesses, the police and representatives of Braintree District Council were at Tyco Electronics UK Ltd as Witham Industrial Watch (WIW) launched the plan on Friday

If the proposal is accepted by a 51% majority of business rate payers in the area, Witham will join Ipswich in achieving BID status, which enables funds from a levy on businesses to be spent on a programme of improvements over a five year period. Colchester businesses rejected plans for their own scheme.

Supporters of the scheme hope to reduce crime, improve signage and lighting and create a safer, cleaner and greener place for businesses and staff in Witham.

Chief Inspector Alan Gooden spoke in support of the scheme. “We applaud the work of Witham Industrial Watch over the last four years and we are keen to reduce criminal activity so that there are fewer victims of crime in the Braintree district,” he said.

Witham mayor Councillor Janet Money said Witham needed a thriving industrial area.

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“We are delighted to support the launch of BIDS,” she said.

“We value the businesses on the industrial estates and the employment opportunities they provide to over 25,000 people.”

Braintree District Council has contributed �15,000 towards the work required to achieve a “yes” vote as part of its efforts to encourage the growth of the local economy and retain local jobs.

Supporters of the scheme say that with limited public funds available, the BID scheme was the “only way” to achieve long term improvements to the industrial areas in Witham.

Detailed proposals are being drawn up which reflect comments and suggestions from a recent survey of businesses.

WIW members have visited 186 businesses on the industrial estates and 116 feedback forms have been returned identifying the needs, demands and concerns of business people.

For the BID status to be adopted, a “yes” vote will be required from more than 51% of the industrial rate payers in July this year.

“Businesses cannot individually afford the costs of making these industrial areas cleaner, safer, more secure, amenable and generally a better place of work,” said WIW's Chris Dale.

“But if we all contribute a small levy, we must be able to make it better by demanding our rights and funding more services.”