BUSINESSES are to get their say on the future of Stratford Business Improvement District (BID) as part of a consultation process launched today (Thursday).
The consultation is the first step in the process which will see town centre businesses vote for a third BID this autumn.
Stratforward BID is currently is in its second term which started in 2014, and end in March 2019. BID3 would run until March 2024.
The consultation, which runs until the end of February, will allow the nearly 450 businesses which are members of the BID to have a say in how they would wantany future BID to operate. It would be followed by the development and release of the BID3 Business Plan in the summer ahead of a vote in the autumn.
Over the coming days each BID member business will receive a copy of the official consultation document outlining key BID services, and the value they bring to the town and to the businesses who pay the membership levy.
It also includes plans for the next five years, giving business owners a chance to set the priorities for the next BID.
Sara Aspley, chair of the Stratforward Board, said: “Over the last nine years Stratforward has worked tirelessly to represent its members in what have often been complex, difficult and fast changing trading times.
“Changing shopping habits over the last decade with the advent of internet shopping, mixed with tougher economic times and security issues, have seen high streets across the country struggle to keep people coming into towns.
“Stratforward has led the fightback in Stratford, showcasing the town through campaigns and festivals to local as well as national and international audiences, encouraging them to continue to come to the town to visit member attractions but also to shop, eat, drink and do business.”
“This consultation document highlights some of the ways in which levy payers see a return on the money they pay each year to be members, the value that Stratforward brings them and just how vital it is to continue together to carry on the battle to keep our town working.
“This consultation is really important to the future and direction of any third BID. What is said during this consultation period will be absolutely crucial to the development of the new business plan, so it’s vital that all businesses who are eligible take part and have their say.”
The document highlights six areas in which Stratforward provides services:
● Town Hosts – whose work last year included 7,500 business visits, delivering six Ambassador Tours, manning the town centre security radio initiative and giving 15,000 directions to visitors.
● Events – last year the award-winning events team delivered the ever-popular River Festival, Festival of Motoring and Town Centre Food Festival, which in total generated 132,000 visitors to Stratford.
● Campaigns – promotions and campaigns to accompany major events, plus the Christmas-upon-Avon campaign and Fashion-upon-Avon Facebook campaign.
● Staff savings – the Stratforward BID card delivered savings to 3,800 BID member employees.
● Business savings – the Joint Procurement Scheme to help businesses save tens of thousands of pounds on running costs, plus the NCP parking discount card, which saved staff an estimated £107,000.
● A voice for business – the BID acts as a ‘voice’ for businesses, networking with other major organisations and representing the interests of its members on issues like planning, parking and traffic congestion. Its member newsletter keeps businesses informed.
BID director Joe Baconnet said: “These are just some of the things Stratforward has achieved and the value we’ve brought to our members in the last year. Our small and dedicated team is fully committed to deliver what our 450 BID member businesses want and need.
“What we want to hear now is what people like about what we do, what works for them, what does not and what they think our priorities in the future should be under any third BID.”
“During the revote process, we’re not stopping the mainstream work. The task of promoting the town to locals and visitors continues through the work of our hosts and a packed programme of events and campaigns. We are also committed to develop the business support and savings schemes that have proved so popular with members, not just retail ones, saving tens of thousands of pounds across the town. New initiatives such as the ‘Tax Free Stratford’ project, a new visitor map and being part of a regional accessible scheme are all in the pipeline.
“We are also continuing our lobbying and behind-the-scenes work with stakeholders such as Stratford Town Council, Stratford District Council, Warwickshire County Council, Shakespeare’s England, Stratford Business Forum, Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and others who promote Stratford as a destination for people and investment.”