Second town in BID for success

COLCHESTER may follow in the footsteps of Ipswich by becoming a Business Improvement District after launching a campaign to change the face of its town centre.

COLCHESTER may follow in the footsteps of Ipswich by becoming a Business Improvement District after launching a campaign to change the face of its town centre.

Proposals to bid for the status were unveiled yesterday at the Lemon Tree Restaurant, where an evaluation team made up of local business people and borough council officers outlined the plans.

Businesses will be asked what they would like the proposed scheme to do for them, and what extra services they would like to see above the statutory ones undertaken by the borough council, county council and the police.

Standard business rates are currently collected locally and fed directly back to central government, but funding from the Colchester BID would be ring-fenced for local businesses to spend from their own contributions.

To date, there have been 43 successful BIDS across the country, including Ipswich, Bedford and Great Yarmouth.

BID manager Chris Rawlinson said they hoped to put the town, which would become the first town centre BID in Essex, on the map with the new status.

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“The Colchester BID would be an area where improvements and new initiatives can be led by local businesses that fall into the catchment. We are looking at the town centre area, but BID areas can happen wherever business people want them,” she said.

“The BID can bring a whole host of benefits to the town but we need the backing of local businesses to get the scheme off the ground.”

Consultations are taking place with local businesses to decide what schemes could be implemented as the result of the BID.

Although there is already a BID evaluation team in place to develop the project, a successful BID will be run by a board, including elected members from the businesses in the area.

Ian Ferguson, policy manager at the Essex Chambers of Commerce and chairman of the BID evaluation team said: “By improving the safety and cleanliness of Colchester and promoting the town, around the borough, within the county and beyond, we aim to increase the number of people coming into the town and doing business with us.

“By backing the Colchester BID, businesses will help build confidence of existing shoppers, attract new shoppers and help raise awareness of Colchester to a wider audience.”

Businesses in the BID catchment area are being asked to vote yes in a month-long postal campaign during November, but people can register their interest using the Colchester BID website.

For more information about the Colchester BID, or to share your views, please phone Chris Rawlinson on 01206 760000 or Ian Ferguson on 01206 765277. You can also log on to www.colchesterbid.co.uk to register your vote.

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk