STRATFORD BID is fighting for its future.
Businesses across the town are heading to the polls from today (Friday) 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.
BID chair Rich Jones is more than aware of the importance of this ballot, the results of which will be revealed on February 23.
On setting out the five year business plan for April 2024 until March 2029, he said that Stratford had held Business Improvement District status since 2009 and he believed retaining a BID was vital to the success of a thriving town centre and a well-connected business community.
He continued: “With nearby BIDs in Leamington, Coventry, Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Oxford we cannot afford to lose BID status after 15 years and I would urge local businesses to vote yes to a new five-year term and for a BID that has a renewed outlook and a new set of initiatives to deliver.
“I would like to reassure local levy payers that Stratford BID is listening to local businesses on the future direction of the BID and we have made some major changes in recent months.”
Mr Jones added: “If a BID disappears, its activities will not be replaced by anyone else. That is why we have listened carefully to you, our businesses, and present here our plans for the next five-years based upon your priorities.”
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.