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Home Canterbury News Article
The Canterbury City Partnership has told local government minister Eric Pickles it wants to press ahead with the Business Improvement District (BID) plan.
BIDs are funded by firms via a compulsory levy in an effort to create attractive trading areas.
If successful, the scheme will be called Canterbury Connected and will follow those established in places such as Brighton, Cambridge and Guildford.
Bob Jones, executive chairman of the Canterbury City Partnership, said: “A BID would make a big difference to our city.
“Canterbury Connected would implement a destination management plan and establish the city centre as a strong brand backed by local businesses sharing marketing collateral and intelligence.
“It would address problems which currently blight our street scene and leave a poor impression such as the subways, poor signage, graffiti and chewing gum – first by making sure the councils are doing their job properly and only then, if necessary, adding to what they already do.
“We would improve how the city looks with floral displays in the summer and attractive Christmas lights.
“And we can ensure that businesses have an influence on key issues that frustrate many firms in the city centre such as internet connectivity.
“A BID brings businesses together – sharing knowledge and expertise and a combined voice to work with the county council, the local council and the police to influence strategy and decisions as well as delivering real improvements for businesses in the city.
“We will work with businesses to reduce utility costs, improve their access to customers and make sure that the BID is an investment for them, not a cost.”
“It would address problems which currently blight our street scene and leave a poor impression such as the subways, poor signage, graffiti and chewing gum..." - Canterbury City Partnership's Bob Jones
To get the go ahead, Canterbury Connected would need the support of the majority of the city centre’s 650 businesses.
Each business in the city centre would then pay Canterbury Connected a levy on properties with a rateable value above £1,700 of 1.5%, which is 97% of all businesses, raising £500,000 each year.
Mr Jones added: “Currently companies across the whole of the Canterbury City Council area pay £49 million to the government in business rates but the council receives less than 10% back as part of its general settlement. None is ring-fenced to support business.
“Canterbury Connected will mean that money contributed by local businesses will directly boost local businesses.
“It will be run by a 17-strong board, consisting of 14 business levy payers elected by the business community, two representatives of the local authorities which will also be levy payers, and the BID manager.”
City centre businesses will send out information about the project this spring and a postal ballot will be held on July 17.
Log on to www.canterburycp.co.uk/bid/ for more information.
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