Crime will rise in Essex town if BID rejected, businesses warned

From left back row: Cllr Tom Cunningham, Roger Hirst, Chris Dale, Neil Jesse. Front row: Philip Law

From left back row: Cllr Tom Cunningham, Roger Hirst, Chris Dale, Neil Jesse. Front row: Philip Lawrence, Priti Patel MP, Kate Carling, Mayor of Witham Councillor Tom Pleasance, Valerie Pattenden and Inspector Colin Cox Picture: ROBERT BUCKNELL - Credit: Archant

Businesses in an Essex town are being urged to back a new term for its Business Improvement District (BID) in a bid to keep crime down.

The campaign for Witham Industrial Watch (WIW)’s BID from 2019 to 2024 was launched at Tiptree Patisserie. A business vote on the proposal is due to take place in July.

WIW director Neil Jesse warned existing services and cameras would be removed and the crime rates would increase if the BID was rejected.

Local MP Priti Patel, Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst, Mayor of Witham Councillor Tom Pleasance and representatives from police, local businesses, and Witham and Braintree Councils were at the ‘yes’ campaign launch to learn about plans for the next five years.

MORE – ‘Fantastic’ opportunity for companies at business showcaseEvery five years, BID terms are approved by local businesses through a formal vote overseen by the Electoral Reform Services. A levey is collected by the local authority and handed to WIW, which has so far completed two BID terms, to carry out a servies of measures aimed at keeping the BID zone safe and clean.

Philip Lawrence, director of WIW, said the scheme currently had 82 cctv cameras with the latest digital software, ANPR cameras linked directly to Essex Police, two estate manager, eight defibrillators, a winter gritting service, additional waste bins and an interactive web site for local businesses. WIW also works with the Parking Partnership to try to manage parking issues.

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“We have achieved a great deal in the last 10 years and the cameras have provided some important evidence that has helped the police and local businesses,” said Mr Lawrence. “As a board we strive to look after our members and this includes reporting issues such as fly tipping, large potholes, dangerous parking and providing weekly checks on the eight defibrillators.”

Mr Jess thanked Braintree District Council, Witham Town Council and Essex Police for their support and said local businesses had been consulted in a survey highlighting their needs for the next five year BID term, which included safety and security, maintenance, cleanliness, roads and gritting.

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“As directors we are passionate about Witham. The next BID term will see new initiatives and will be an opportunity to build on our success,” he said.

Mr Hirst said: “Witham Industrial Watch is an important element of keeping people safe. It is a great example of what can be done by businesses working together with the police and is a model for what could happen in other areas.

“Working together you can squeeze out the criminals from this area; making it harder for the criminals so they can’t thrive so they move or, even better, stop committing crime altogether. Intelligence from communities and information from schemes like the BID here in Witham are invaluable in building up cases against criminals.”

Ms Patel thanked everyone involved with Witham Industrial Watch. “I am proud of the achievements of Witham Industrial Watch as they have worked in partnership to make the town an even better place. I look forward to seeing the new plans for the next five years develop and supporting them as they seek to have them endorsed.

“Witham has a strong heritage, as do many of the local businesses, which is good for the health and well-being of the local economy and it has a huge impact on the social welfare of the community.”

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