Ipswich: Business Improvement District renewal ballot confirmed for October

BUSINESSES in the centre of Ipswich are to be balloted in October on the renewal of the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) initiative, it has been confirmed.

Ipswich Central, the company responsible for delivering the BID programme of promotional and improvement work, will seek the backing of firms in the town centre to continue the scheme for a second five-year term when the current approval expires in April next year.

Under the BID process, businesses within a designated zone are invited to vote on a package of measures designed to improve the local trading environment.

If the scheme is approved by a majority of traders, in terms of both the number of businesses balloted and the total value of business rates payable, a supplementary business rate becomes payable by all businesses within the area to fund the measures.

When Ipswich Central was launched in 2007 it was only the 30th BID in the UK but the total is now well over 100, with dozens of others also under consideration.

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Other town’s within East Anglia to have followed the lead of Ipswich include Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth, and it is undestood that BID proposals are also being developed in Norwich, Cambridge and Lowestoft.

In March this year, following extensive consultation with stakeholders, Ipswich Central unveiled a new “Vision” which placed emphasis on the integration of the town centre and the Waterfront regeneration area as key to future prosperity, uniting the business and leisure sectors.

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It also proposed further improvements in street management, a widening the reach of the town’s marketing and raising its profile among major multiples currently not in the town.

The next step, it has now been confirmed, with the launch of a formal five-year business plan on September 14, with a ballot of businesses starting three weeks later.

Alistair Lang, the chief executive of law firm Birketts, who was chairman of the original Ipswich BID team five years ago, has re-joined to promote the renewal campaign.

“Ipswich Central is absolutely right to be thinking about the long-term growth and prosperity of the town, and the vision that we have cannot be achieved without its continuation,” he said.

“We have spent the last few months listening hard to what BID zone businesses in Ipswich want from us over the next five years and I am completely confident that our final business plan for the future will absolutely deliver what is required.

“I will be leading the effort to gain the support that we require in the renewal ballot so that their demands will become a reality.”

Mr Lang added: “Businesses will need to be reminded of what life was like before the BID – no proactive consumer marketing, no extra cleaning or graffiti removal, no Street Rangers, no retail inward investment, no additional safety measures, and so on.

“The amount that has been achieved in the first five years is astonishing, but time flies and it is often difficult to remember what life was like without the BID. The choice is simple in my view: keep the BID going and allow it to progress Ipswich still further; or switch it off, fall behind our competitors and send out the strongest negative message imaginable to future investors. Renewing the BID and allowing it to extend its delivery is crucial to our town centre.”

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