BID comes at a price
7:00pm Thursday 18th October 2012 in Latest News
Town centre traders in Chippenham could face paying more on their business rates in return for improvements in the town.
That is the idea being investigated by Cherish Chippenham, the group formed to try and secure funding through the Mary Portas initiative.
The proposed scheme is called a BID (Business Improvement District). To apply for it would involve a ballot of businesses.
A BID is funded through a levy which is a small percentage of businesses’ rateable value. There are more than 150 BIDs in the UK and the majority charge one per cent of rateable value. A business with a rateable value of £20,000 would pay £200 a year.
The money raised through the levy would be passed over to the BID for it to use on improving services in their area.
Cherish Chippenham is holding an open meeting on November 6 at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham at 5.30pm to discuss the idea. A panel of experts from consultants the Mosaic Partnership will be there to answer questions.
The first stage of the project would be to conduct a feasibility study, costing £7,500, on the town centre to see if it would be appropriate for Chippenham to have a BID.
Melody Thompson, chairman of Cherish Chippenham, said: “In some districts where there is a BID they have taken over the car parking. That is something that traders may want in Chippenham.
“All the rates businesses pay at the moment go to Wiltshire Council and are transferred out across the county and Chippenham doesn’t necessarily see a lot of that.
“Businesses in a BID would pay an increased levy, between one and four per cent, and that would be used for town centre improvements. It’s a way of raising extra capital.”
Rob Perks, president of Chippenham Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the BID proposal for the town.
He said: “Nobody likes paying more business rates. Talking to other areas who have implemented BIDs the scheme has been very beneficial. Hopefully the benefits would outweigh the cost.”
However, Sandie Webb, owner of Revolutions restaurant in New Road and spokesman for Chippenham Independent Traders Association, said: “Me and my colleagues are yet to be convinced that it (BID) is the right way for Chippenham to go.
“At this moment trading is difficult anyway. We are paying a whopping rate of business tax and this is about getting us to pledge more money on top of our business rates each year.
“It may make improvements in the town centre but for traders on the periphery of the town centre, such as myself, we remain to be convinced.”
The association has about 90 members and Mrs Webb said 59 per cent of traders in Chippenham were independent.