Proposed Shirley Business Improvement District is rejected

An attempt to secure £550,000 of additional funding for the Stratford Road corridor has been lost after the proposed Shirley Business Improvement District (BID) was rejected.

Businesses took part in a democratic vote for the Shirley BID, which revealed more votes in favour of the idea – but when taking into account the aggregated rateable value of the votes this meant the vote was lost.

A spokesperson said: “Out of a total number of 256 eligible votes for the Shirley BID, 96 votes were cast. With 67 supporting votes, seventy percent of businesses voted in favour of the BID.

“However, with an aggregated rateable value of businesses eligible to vote at £4,983,550, an aggregated rateable value of £1,906,500 voted in favour, making a total of 38 percent. This means that many of the larger businesses who voted did not support the proposals.

“For the BID to be implemented a majority of businesses were needed to vote in favour (more than 50 percent) by both their number and aggregate of rateable value.”

A BID is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area. There are currently more than 300 BIDs across the UK and all are governed by the businesses who represent the BID area.

“Shirley BID was designed to create a vibrant and prosperous town centre to increase visitor numbers and help businesses flourish throughout its five-year term and beyond. Its vision was to ensure visitors are motivated to stay for longer, spend more and return more often, the spokesperson added.

“If the BID ballot had been successful it would have generated £550,000 of funds over five years to invest in a programme of visitor events and street markets, employ a warden to react quickly to problem issues such as litter or graffiti and work with partners to deliver improved visitor WiFi.

“The BID would have campaigned for improvements to existing car park facilities and the introduction of parking meters where required.”

“Additional priorities in its five-year Business Plan were for investment to improve Christmas lights displays, new promotional campaigns to highlight independent businesses and to work with partner organisations to improve street paving maintenance.”

Victoria Hicks of Wadsworths Solicitors said: “Unfortunately our worst fears have been confirmed and we have lost the vote to create a BID on rateable value.

“Whilst we’re understandably saddened that the majority of businesses of Shirley who were wise enough to recognise the benefits of joining together for a brighter future have been overruled, we’re so proud of the whole BID team.

“The team was made up of volunteers from local businesses who gave up their time on a daily basis, working hard and striving towards a united Shirley.

“Thank you to the team and every business owner who voted ‘yes’.”