Friday, 16 January 2015

Morecambe businesses consider BID for the town

The former Morecambe Visitor offices, part of the proposed BID area
When is a tax not a tax? When those that pay it also get to say what it's spent on. That's the case with a levy on business rates under a scheme known as a Business Improvement District (BID).

Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce reports that leaders from Morecambe Town Centre's business community have joined forces to form a Steering Group which will set up and promote a BID project across the town.

(Lancaster already has its own private sector led, owned and managed initiative and they recently launched a new web site about it here)

The Chamber says that indications are that a successful majority ballot amongst business ratepayers could lead to raising revenue of at least £140,000 a year to spend on initiatives to improve and promote business in the town.

The group includes representatives from national multiples, independent retailers, the commercial and licensed sectors, leisure and tourism, charity sector and the local authority.

The Steering Group elected local businessman Brendan Hughes, Managing Director and Owner of ICU Security Services based on Pedder Street, as Chair and Arndale Shopping Centre Manager, Sue Byers, as Vice Chair. Collectively, the group will act as ambassadors to actively promote the BID to other business owners and managers operating in Central Morecambe.

The project is being managed and co-ordinated by Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the business community and is supported by funding from Lancaster City Council which has allocated £40,000 to the Chamber of Commerce to lead on BID development for Morecambe.
Brendan Hughes explains how as an independent business with nine years trading in Morecambe, the scheme would be very welcome.

"Creating a Business Improvement District in Morecambe could be very beneficial to all businesses in the proposed district. It gives rate payers the chance to decide how their contribution is being spent and gives us the opportunity to invest in projects that will improve the fortunes of the businesses in the area. I firmly believe this is going to be a turning point for the town's economy and is proven to help other towns and cities. Opportunities like this don't come around very often and the business community of Morecambe would be silly not to take full advantage of it."

The team will spend the next few months campaigning to promote the BID before ratepayers get an opportunity to vote at a formal election in spring 2016.

"The chance to create a Business Improvement District in Morecambe presents a fantastic opportunity for all Town Centre Businesses," says Sue Byers, Centre Manager of the Arndale Centre/

"A successful ballot outcome will mean that businesses within the Town Centre can have real input and influence over initiatives to improve and promote their business and trading environment.

"Throughout 2015 the Steering Group will be working hard to ensure all businesses owners are provided with enough information to enable them to make an informed decision during the ballot process. This is a really positive step forward for Morecambe - an opportunity too good to lose.

• If you want to get involved or find out more please visit www.morecambeBID.org.uk

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