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Southend businesses back the aim to become a Business Improvement District
TRADERS are wholeheartedly backing Southend’s aim to become a Business Improvement District.
Businesses in the centre of town will vote on October 26 week to become part of a BID.
In return for paying 1.5 per cent in business rates, firms will be able to decide what needs to be done and when.
In Southend, it is hoped to raise £500,000 a year which will be spent on sprucing up the town centre to make it more attractive to shoppers.
The Echo is backing the plans and urging other businesses to follow suit.
James Taylor, who owns Taylor and Son jewelers in York Road, said he supported anything that could boost trade.
He said: “Anything that increases business in the town has got to be good hasn’t it? After the road improvements, Southend has become a lot quieter.
That put people off and they changed their shopping habits. You are already trying to compete against Lakeside and things like that.
“The problem is in Southend, there are too many empty shops. Anything that encourages growth is for the better. Subject to the price, I would like to go with it.”
Another jeweler, Dave Anderson, who opened Mallards Jewellers in Southend High Street this May, agreed.
He added: “My thoughts are positive. When I read all the information from Southend Council I was impressed by it. A few other cities and towns have applied for it and got it and it has encouraged high-end retailers to go into the high street.
“There are quite a few benefits, it is money that is going to help promote Southend.”
The Town Centre Partnership, a group of major traders, has spearheaded the Southend plan.
The BID would cover every major shopping area in the town centre, stretching from the new Tesco site off Short Street in the north to the cultural centre at the end of the pier in the south.
Neil Raven, owns Ravens department store in Clifftown Road, which has been trading for more than 100 years.
He threw his weight behind the plans.
He said: “I think it is a very good idea. Anything that is going to improve the area is worth doing. They have put a very constructive case together and I think it is worth backing.”
The BID area will cover a total of 370 businesses.
Ballot papers will be issued between October 26 and November 22.
For it to be approved, more than half of the papers will have to be a “yes”.
If the total rateable value of the businesses which vote “no” exceeds that which vote “yes”, the BID cannot be introduced.
The BID will start in April and continue for five years.
Businesses with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will be exempt but both those and others outside the BID area will be able to join by becoming a “Friend of the BID.”