Weston BID to ‘put town back on map’

IF SUCCESSFUL, Weston’s Business Improvement District (BID) plans would ‘put the town back on the map’ scheme leaders have said.

BID coordinators and representatives officially launched the scheme, which they say will invigorate the town centre, at a meeting with business owners at The Blakehay Theatre on Thursday.

Having completed months of consultation with the 703 businesses in the town centre which would be affected by the scheme, town centre manager Steve Townsend laid out the ways the area would benefit if the proposal is voted in next February.

If successful, businesses will be asked to pay 1.5 per cent of their rateable value during the five years of the scheme, creating an annual figure of �273,000 which would be used in a variety of different ways to improve the town centre.

Pointing to the success of BID schemes in places such as Broadmead in Bristol, and Torquay, Mr Townsend told the meeting: “If successful, we could really put Weston back on the map.

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“We want to market Weston so it has what people who live here want, and what people from farther away want. Marketing is like war, and I want to go to war with Bristol and Bath, and other rival destinations.”

Mr Townsend laid out the initiatives the scheme would provide, saying one key aspect would be a wealth of events such as triathlons and music concerts which could be held in the town centre, and setting up a dedicated Visit Weston website which would list the town’s attractions and all of the businesses within the BID zone.

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The extra cash could also fund a team of wardens who would be able to deal with antisocial behaviour problems, an improved intelligence system and a fast response clean-up team.

Businesses could also benefit from partnership with cost reduction specialists, while empty shop fronts would be actively marketed to attract new firms to the town.

BID representative and local businessman Dean Smith said: “I’m fed up with dodging dog mess on the streets, watching antisocial behaviour and drug deals happen in the town centre and suffering from petty crimes, and I believe the BID will help to correct these problems.”

The BID plan will now be formally put together ahead of voting throughout February, with the scheme’s success likely to be announced on March 1.

The scheme will only go ahead if more than half of eligible traders vote in favour of it and this is made up of at least 51 per cent of the businesses’ combined rateable value.

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