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Traders to be asked views on BID

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: October 17, 2013

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TRADERS in Penzance are to investigate the potential for setting up a Business Improvement District (BID).

BIDs are created when businesses in a specific town or area agree to pay an additional tax in order to fund projects.

Marcus Wilkinson, who chairs the town's BID steering group, said traders had wanted to develop one for some years and the opportunity had now arisen to do so thanks to the availability of money from Sainsbury's, which is building a supermarket in the town, and Cornwall Council support.

The scheme would be led by traders themselves, who would determine whether it went ahead and, if it did, what the BID would deliver for them.

Detailed consultation would now take place with all businesses over the next 12 to 18 months to find out what a BID could do for them.

BIDs already exist in five other towns in Cornwall – Truro, where traders have voted to continue it for another five years, Falmouth, Newquay, Camborne and St Austell.

"It's early days, but the BID framework provides an accountable structure to bring together all the businesses in Penzance to identify common priorities and work together to improve the trading environment," Mr Wilkinson said.

"It's all about businesses working together for their mutual benefit.

"I sincerely hope that the whole business community will get involved and appreciate the benefits that a Business Improvement District could bring to Penzance.

"If Penzance is going to thrive in the future it needs to make the most of its wonderful position and unique mix of individual businesses. It's up to us to lead the way ourselves; no one else is going to."

Dick Cliffe, chairman of Penzance Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber of commerce strongly supports the proposed Penzance BID. It will provide a mechanism for businesses to co-operate in improving the trading environment and the resources to do so.

"However, no business is keen to see its business rates increased so the BID programme needs to be carefully constructed to convince levy- paying businesses that it represents value for money.

"About 95 per cent of BID votes are successful. Failure to deliver is the common reason for BIDs not being renewed after their initial five-year life.

"It's businesses that pay and it's businesses that decide. It's quite simple, but it can be quite brutal."

All businesses in Penzance will be invited to attend an information event to be held early next year where they can hear more about BIDs.

In the meantime, anyone seeking more information is being invited to contact Marcus Wilkinson by e-mail at marcus@alfred-smith.co.uk

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