A CONSULTATION that marks the start of the process in which Stratford town centre businesses will vote on whether or not to keep funding the Business Improvement District (BID) was launched last week.
The vote itself will not take place until towards the end of the year, but the consultation is an opportunity for traders to influence what Stratforward BID would spend its money on over the next five years.
The BID was first introduced in 2009 to provide services and initiatives over and above those provided by the local and national authorities. It is funded by traders themselves if they collectively vote to pay a percentage of their rateable value in addition to their normal business rates.
Currently it amounts to around an extra 1.45 per cent. In Stratford, around £400,000 a year funds the town hosts, the River, Food and Motoring festivals, as well as other initiatives such as the BID Discount Card, staff parking scheme, and joint procurement to reduce utility bills, and acting as the voice of businesses.
The second five-year BID term expires next year and the consultation document has been sent to all 450 businesses in the town.
Joe Baconnet, BID director, added: “We want to know what our members think works and what elements of what we do that they might think need tweaking, or what else they want to see us doing.
“Few people remember what it was like before the BID started, and we believe we’ve become an integral part of the town, we think we make a difference.
“During the revote process, we’re not stopping the mainstream work. The task of promoting the town to locals and visitors continues through the work of our hosts and a packed programme of events and campaigns.”
Sara Aspley, chair of the Stratforward board, added: “This consultation document highlights some of the ways in which levy payers see a return on the money they pay each year to be members, the value that Stratforward brings them and just how vital it is to continue together to carry on the battle to keep our town working.
A successful vote is one that has a majority both in votes cast and in rateable value of votes cast. When the BID was first introduced in Stratford in 2009 it was backed by 72 per cent of businesses, which dropped to 58 per cent in the second ballot in 2013.