Stratford BID ballot to continue despite concerns - The Stratford Observer

Stratford BID ballot to continue despite concerns

Stratford Editorial 15th Feb, 2024   0

THE BALLOT to decide Stratford BID’s future will not be halted despite concerns submitted to council chiefs.

Stratford District Council said it had received a letter raising concerns about the current ballot which is underway for Stratford Business Improvement District’s new business plan.

The council could not reveal what the exact nature of these concerns were or who had submitted them.

But SDC said it could confirm it did not have the power as the billing authority under The Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004 to halt the current ballot. Therefore, having been started, the ballot has to be conducted.

SDC continued it had received definitive legal advice to this effect and although it was aware of ballots which had been paused, these were done before the ballot process had got underway.

Ultimately, it is the Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities who has a power to void a ballot, however this can only occur after the ballot has concluded.

The ballot will therefore continue and SDC added it urged all business who had received a ballot under the Stratford BID proposals to still vote on this matter.

SDC’s Cabinet has voted in favour of the BID.

Businesses across the town began heading to the polls last month to vote yes or no to Stratford BID’s new business plan and, essentially, to the continuance of the organisation.

The business plan sets out the BIDs aims and ambitions for the next five years and follows a rocky period for the mouthpiece of the town’s businesses.

A majority yes vote would secure the BID’s future until 2029 but a majority no vote would spiral the much-maligned BID into greater uncertainty.

The BID has suffered criticism of its performance recently and has had to adapt accordingly. In September last year it announced a major restructure of its board after admitting it had not being running as “effectively as was required”.

There were also major changes in leadership to try and make it more representative of local businesses.

Six council members stepped down from positions as both directors and observers.

The BID has also faced criticism in recent months from both businesses and residents, particularly after revealing in April last year that major Stratford festivals, including Stratford River Festival and the Stratford Festival of Motoring, would not be going ahead due to financial constraints.

And matters reached a head in September when Stratford Food Festival was cancelled at the eleventh hour.

The new five-year BID term would represent 382 businesses in Stratford town centre as well as, for the first time, businesses on the Maybird Shopping Park.

The results of the ballot will be revealed on February 23.

Stratford BID was approached for comment.


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