STRATFORD-upon-Avon businesses have less than 48 hours to cast their vote in the ballot that will determine whether the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) continues beyond 31st March 2019.
The vote officially closes at 5pm on Thursday, September 27th but businesses must have submitted their ballot papers by 2pm in Stratford to ensure they’re counted.
Stratforward Director Joe Baconnet is urging all businesses to have their say.
He said: “Everyone knows how challenging things are for town centres and the High Street in the current climate and BIDs are an incredibly valuable tool in which to ensure that businesses are working together to keep town centres vibrant.
“We have had a BID here in Stratford for almost ten years now and I am positive that it is one of the reasons why the town centre has suffered less than others.”
Under Government rules UK BIDS are required to be re-elected by their members every five years and Stratforward’s second five-year term is coming to an end, finishing on March 31st, 2019. A ‘yes’ vote will see Stratforward continue for a further five years while a ‘no’ vote means it will be disbanded and all services will cease on March 31st.
The ballot closure this Thursday comes just days after this year’s Stratford Town Centre Food Festival. The festival, one of several major events organised by Stratforward to attract visitors into the town and showcase what it has to offer, brought in some 30,000 visitors despite poor weather. It was also voted one of the UK’s must-attend September events on a recent TripAdvisor blog.
“Events like this, as well as planned services outlined for BID3, will be lost in the event of a ‘no’ vote,” said Mr Baconnet. “The clock is ticking. It’s not enough to assume that other businesses will ensure the future of an organisation that benefits our members in so many different ways. We want every BID member to be able to cast their vote and do it before the deadline on Thursday.”
He went on: “Stratforward is an organisation that is being continually shaped and influenced by each and every one of our 430 members, and we’re calling on those businesses to vote yes and to get involved in making the BID better in its third term than it ever has been.
“Town centres across the UK are facing unprecedented challenges and it’s only by pulling together in a tried and tested vehicle – a BID – that we can weather the storm. If you haven’t yet voted there is still time. All BID members have their ballot papers and I would urge you to get yours in by the deadline on Thursday.”
Stratforward has already outlined a series of priorities and aims for a third term as part of its BID3 Business Plan, based on a consultation with its members ahead of the revote.
If voted for a third term, Stratforward’s current work will continue, but additional work will include:
- A new marketing and brand strategy to promote the town to as wide an audience as possible, including the creation of a town-wide image library that can be used by members as well as for marketing and PR
- Improvements to the current business-facing website and the creation of a new consumer-facing website
- Collaboration with partners to develop Stratford’s evening economy, as well as supporting initiatives to help the business community by dealing with areas they have highlighted such as begging
BID3 will also see the continuation of successful elements of BID2 including:
- Town Hosts team
- Staff savings scheme – parking and BID Card discounts
- Company saving schemes
- Events and marketing campaigns
The vote closes at 5pm this Thursday (September 27th) with the result of the ballot made public on Friday September 28th. Members were sent ballot papers at at the end of August. They can post votes to Electoral Reform Services in the supplied pre-paid envelopes, or hand deliver them to Stratford District Council Offices at Elizabeth House in Stratford upon Avon by 2pm on Thursday 27th September for them to be taken to London by courier.