MP backs Ipswich BID

BECOMING a Business Improvement District “has to be the right way forward” for Ipswich, says local MP Chris Mole. Mr Mole, who visited Chicago, Milwaukee and New York in 2003 with a Parliamentary Select Committee to see how the scheme was working there, said it was a “fantastic opportunity” for Ipswich.

BECOMING a Business Improvement District “has to be the right way forward” for Ipswich, says local MP Chris Mole.

Mr Mole, who visited Chicago, Milwaukee and New York in 2003 with a Parliamentary Select Committee to see how the scheme was working there, said it was a “fantastic opportunity” for Ipswich.

He was speaking as the Ipswich Experience prepares to launch its formal BID prospectus, with a BID ballot expected to take place in July.

“I think the idea of Ipswich town centre becoming a Business Improvement District is a fantastic opportunity to enhance the attractiveness of Ipswich to shoppers and businesses alike,” he said.

“A BID has to be rooted in practical enhancements to the area it covers. It has to add value and be driven by the businesses who contribute to it. Better street cleaning, smarter furniture, helpful wardens, more CCTV, whatever it takes.

“It's time limited and accountable, and I welcome the police and local authority commitment to maintain their current levels of investment in Ipswich town centre. Twenty-seven areas have had positive BID votes in the UK. It has to be the right way forward for Ipswich.”

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He described how in Chicago they were able to see the way a secondary shopping area, Cicero, had been lifted, and a local Irish restaurant owner spoke of better footfall in the whole area, and a strong sense of ownership of the improvements by local businesses.

In Milwaukee, a neighbourhood shopping area had benefited from better street furniture, pavements and parking, he said.

“This was an area where the town was struggling economically and the local businesses stressed the importance of ensuring BID funding was “additional” to local government spending,” he said.

“In the city centre the waterfront area had been enhanced to attract visitors into the city centre which had been undermined by out-of-town retail.”

He also described how 34th Street in New York, close to the Empire State Building, and nearby Bryant Park had been uplifted through BID schemes.

“To say the benefit was visible would be an understatement. Seeing the parts of the street outside the BID was quite shocking. Bryant Park had changed from being an undesirable and untidy green space to a highly visited all-day visitor destination,” he said.

“All the local businesses had benefited from their investment.”