STRAFORD BID announced a major restructure of its board this week following much criticism of its performance.
The BID, which is the mouthpiece of Stratford businesses, admitted it had not being running as “effectively as was required” and as a result had made some major changes in leadership to try and make it more representative of local businesses.
Six council members have stepped down from positions as both directors and observers.
Outgoing company directors include Stratford mayor Coun Kate Rolfe, Coun Tim Sinclair from Warwickshire County Council and Coun George Cowcher from Stratford District Council, and outgoing observers include three council officers.
Local business owner Flair Gougoulia has also stepped away from the board as part of the restructuring.
There are now eight company directors remaining following the recent resignation of Sam Jenkins from Magic Alley, due to work commitments.
Stratford BID has faced criticism in recent months from both businesses and residents, particularly after revealing in April that major Stratford festivals, including Stratford River Festival and the Stratford Festival of Motoring, would not be going ahead this year due to financial constraints.
And matters reached a head last week when Stratford Food Festival was cancelled at the eleventh hour after event planners Cocker Hoop Creative pulled out due to various “logistical issues”.
The festival is now back on after BID members scrambled to save it – but six weeks after originally planned, in late October.
Disgruntled businesses and residents have turned to Stratford Forum on Facebook to vent their anger and frustration.
Charlie Demetrious, who runs Zero selling zero plastic products, said in the 14 months she had been open she had never had a visit from anyone at the BID.
She continued: “We had a few incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour and never any support from the BID on these.”
Resident and business owner Sarah-Louise Bridgewater, who runs Precious Little Smiles Day Nursery, was equally scathing.
“It’s like dealing with the mafia. No right to reply, not allowed an opinion and no right of appeal to their decision making in any way.”
Commenting on the restructure, BID Chairman Rich Jones said change was needed.
“Delivering for the local business community has to be our number one priority moving forward and the previous board was not as effective as was required.
“The BID has to be business led and must be the voice of local business. Listening to local businesses and our valued levy payers, we knew that to be truly independent of local councils was an area that needed to change.
“Following a period of consultation and governance review, we have all agreed a smaller, more strategic BID board was the right approach.”