£2.5 Million boost for town centre

Published on 21 October 2014

Bedford town centre is going to benefit from an injection of £2.5 Million over five years now the Business Improvement District has been voted in for a third term.

The money from businesses is managed by businesses and is used to promote the town centre to prospective visitors. It operates under the marketing brand of Love Bedford. 

Director Christina Rowe said: "Times are getting tougher and the local council admits it doesn't have the funds to push the town centre. A BID means businesses can work together to help the town centre thrive. The bigger businesses effectively subsidise the smaller independent outlets via a BID to increase footfall in town for the benefit of all. Without a BID there would no way of raising such a sum."

Bedford was the first county town in the UK to vote in a BID in 2005, under the late Mayor Frank Branston. The local MP at that time, Patrick Hall, was part of the Labour Government which agreed the legislation governing BIDs. Since then coalition Government has given its backing to BIDs as a way to save town centres.

 In Bedford only those businesses with a rateable value of £8,100 or more pay the levy which equates to 2% of their rateable value. This is in addition to Business Rates, but the levy goes straight into a pot managed by a Board of levy-paying businesses. The BID is not run by the council, but as the town centre property owner, the council pays a levy and has a seat on the Board.

 Projects and campaigns run under the Love Bedford banner are outlined on the BID website www.lovebedford.co.uk

An AGM will be held of the BID in November at which new Board members will be elected. Levy payers interested in getting involved should contact the BID office.

 Christina added: "Levy-paying businesses will be invited to attend the BID AGM in November when plans for BID 3 will be discussed. We hope all those who pay will come and have their say."

 The voting figures showed 115 businesses, with a rateable value of £8.7 Million voted YES to the BID v 106, with a rateable value of £2 Million voted No.

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