WORKSHOPS are being held to let Bognor Regis companies learn about the town’s planned £1m-plus Business Improvement District.
Town centre manager Toyubur Rahman has arranged three days as part of his work to see if one of the districts can be established for the main shopping area. BIDs sees businesses in an area pay a levy on their business rates and decide how the money should be spent.
Bognor’s district could yield up to £244,000 a year for five years. Mr Rahman has told businesses in the town: “This series of workshops are an important opportunity for you to learn more about BIDs, what the implications are for you and help develop the business plan to ensure your ideas are represented.”
The workshops are taking place from 9.30am-12.30pm and 2-5pm today, next Friday and on October 25. Their venue will be The Dome on the University of Chichester’s Bognor Regis campus.
As reported, an initial survey of town centre companies showed 55% believed a BID would benefit the town, a further 24% were undecided and one in eight – 13% – did not think it was a good idea. There were 101 responses. National firms in favour included Robert Dyas, Santander, Barclays and Boots.
“The findings from the survey have been presented to the Town Centre Management Partnership board and embryonic BID board.
“It was agreed to continue to consult with businesses and develop the BID to ballot stage, following the number of respondents who think it’s a good idea in principal,” said Mr Rahman.
“The BID offers a really exciting opportunity for the town centre to move forward and maintain the momentum it is achieving at the moment.
“It brings businesses together to work in a co-ordinated effort for the benefit of the town centre.” He said at a council meeting last week he expected the ballot to determine if a BID should be set up would take place next April-June.
If approved, the BID should start next summer. The area which it will cover will be decided by the board members.
Its biggest size – from Longford Road to the pier and Butlin’s – could include 550 premises on which a 2% levy would yield £244,000 a year. A slightly smaller area would have 27 roads and yield £150,000 annually with 2% levy and a 2% levy on just 11 roads would bring in an annual £150,000.
Of the concerns raised in the first survey, the strongest felt related to the town centre’s image, parking, crime and anti-social behaviour and the evening/night-time economy. Marketing, a uniformed presence, special events and more/cheaper parking were the most popular answers.