Town business scheme wins backing

A “NEW era” has begun in Bury St Edmunds after business leaders voted in favour of an initiative that will release hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to boost trade in the town.

Jonathan Schofield

A “NEW era” has begun in Bury St Edmunds after business leaders voted in favour of an initiative that will release hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to boost trade in the town.

There were whoops of joy in Bury's Corn Exchange yesterday as the ballot was announced to support a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town - following a two year campaign by the Bid4Bury group.

The scheme will raise around �350,000 a year to fund events and improve the commercial hub of the town.


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Bury Town Centre Manager Steve Peters said he was thrilled the two year project had passed the final hurdle.

“This is the start of a new era for the town centre,” he said. “It has the potential to propel Bury further as a quality shopping and business destination. It's now up to businesses, without any outside interference, to bring the benefits of the BID to their trading environment.”

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Bid4Bury now has until April to put together a business plan for the first year of operation. Outline proposals could see money spent on increased marketing to attract shoppers, street rangers to improve safety, improved Christmas lighting, plus environmental improvements such as “gum-busting” pavement cleaning.

Chrissy Harrod, chairman of the town centre board and manager of Cornhill Walk, said: “For the first time business decisions will be made by business people and the potential is huge. We know there are some people still uncertain and that is understandable in the present economic climate but now we must work together to make this work.”

The lifelong Bury resident said there were a few tears when the result was announced, which saw 67% of those balloted supporting the BID. A BID needs more than 50% of support to go through.

The �350,000 figure will be raised through a 1.75% rateable value on businesses valued at more than �10,000.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury, said: “This is great news for Bury St Edmunds. Our town is home to some of the finest independent businesses in the country and they now have the mandate, and moreover the budget, to deliver massive improvements to Bury's town centre. It really is businesses in control of business."

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which supported Bid4Bury, congratulated everyone involved adding that it was now time for Bury businesses to take control of their own future.

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