Vibrant visitor economy

Published on 28 July 2016

Visitors to Bedford are on the up year on year with a surge this summer following the Bedford River Festival.

Bedford Business Improvement District  (BID) Director Christina Rowe said: “In the past the problem for businesses was that everyone went to the riverside and regular shoppers stayed away from the town centre This year the record numbers at the festival and promotional team work between the local authority, ourselves and businesses has meant that a wave of visitors swept into the High Street. 

“We positioned our Love Bedford Day right in the town centre and a week after the river festival to keep that tide coming in throughout the summer. It was a great day and a boost for businesses as Sunday is now one of the most popular retail days in the UK and we want people to think of coming into Bedford where the biggest and best are open and we have the advantage of all day free parking courtesy of the council.”

The mission of the Business Improvement District is to attract new customers to town. A levy paid by those in the “BID zone” is managed by a board of businesses. The result has been: Bedford continues to buck the trend with year on year increases in footfall compared to similar town centres. BID funds are not to finance projects otherwise provided by the local authority from council tax or Business Rates, but to support addition flag-waving and improvement activities.

“It is a careful balancing act as town centre businesses already pay Business Rates and owners may live locally and so pay Council Tax to the local authority, police and fire services which all have a role to play in supporting the town centre. However the levy is managed by volunteers from those same businesses who take a strict ‘bottom line’ view of how the money is spent and how it adds value to the trading environment.”


Biennial Bedford River Festival July 16th and 17th

Saturday and Sunday growth on the 2014 River Festival weekend +20.6%

Saturday + 80.3% vs. week on week

Sunday   +117.1% vs. week on week

BedfordBID Bluecaps were on parade giving away goodie bags and balloons at the Bedford River Festival and Love Bedford Day

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