Newmarket to follow Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds in creating new team to promote the town centre
Newmarket will be “revived” as a destination for tourists and shoppers thanks to a landmark vote that will see £1.2million invested in the town centre over the next five years.
Sixty-nine out of 112 businesses have voted in favour of creating a Business Improvement District for Newmarket, following in the footsteps of Ourburystedmunds and Ipswich Central.
Di Robertshaw has been one of the driving forces behind the move to create the Newmarket BID and she thanked the task group who helped bring the idea forward.
“I am thrilled that after all their work we are now going to be able to establish a BID for Newmarket and really promote the area and all it has to offer,” she said.
A report compiled by Forest Heath District Council recently said if businesses did vote in favour of the BID it would “greatly contribute towards uplifting the activity in Newmarket, raising its profile and image both regionally and nationally”.
While the BID would be focused on the town centre, its benefits are predicted to spread throughout the nearby area.
Chairman of the Newmarket and District Chamber of Commerce Graham Abbey welcomed the result, saying he received a message late on Friday.
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“I think, like everybody else in the town related to it, it’s a really positive thing and I’m delighted it’s gone through,” he said.
Mr Abbey is managing director of Exning-based firm Factotum.
“My business isn’t even in the town centre but I’m still for it effectively and I know there are a number of businesses who aren’t in the BID district but who are already upping their rates to add to the BID pot,” he said.
Newmarket Racecourse and the Bedford Lodge Hotel have been reported previously as saying they would be interesting in contributing.
The long-running project to create a BID for Newmarket started in late 2014. The result of the ballot will see businesses in the town centre pay a levy based on their business rate banding to raise £240,000 a year for the next five years that will be reinvested in the town centre.
“We are delighted with this result for Newmarket,” said Robin Millar, Forest Heath District Council’s deputy leader.
“This is about town centre businesses collectively taking charge of their success by working together to provide above and beyond the services offered by local authorities. The BID has worked very well in nearby Bury St Edmunds where amongst other things it runs lots of events that help market and encourage more visitors and shoppers into the town.”
He pointed out Newmarket already had a “very low number” of empty shops, with a vacancy rate just 3.6% compared with 8.7% nationally.
Mr Millar claimed with the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art set to open later this year, the number of visitors to the town would grow even more.
“Having a BID in place will help capitalise on that and fuel Newmarket’s revival as a destination for shoppers and tourists,” he said.
The postal ballot opened on March 3 and closed at 5pm on March 31.
The result was declared at the Best Western Heath Court Hotel at 5.30pm last Friday.
The BID company will now be set up and is expected to begin work in June.