Shirley businesses begin voting on proposals to introduce BID for Stratford Road

Shirley businesses have begun voting on whether to introduce a Business Improvement District for the Stratford Road corridor, which will bring an additional £550,000 investment in the area over five years.

The Business Improvement District (BID) ballot process started on Wednesday 25th April, when papers were posted to businesses along with a copy of the Business Plan and a reply-paid envelope to use when casting their vote.

A BID is a business-led and business-funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area. BIDs are governed by the businesses who represent the BID area – which would mean that local business people have a genuine voice to decide and direct what they want for Shirley.

An independent survey was carried out last year, which asked town centre businesses about creating a BID in central Shirley. Responses were received from over 100 businesses, almost 70% of which supported a project of this type being taken forward.

Shirley BID’s proposals to improve the Stratford Road corridor include employing a warden to react quickly to problem issues such as litter or graffiti, working with partners to deliver improved visitor WiFi and to develop at least two major new town centre events with an annual calendar of street markets.

The BID said it will lobby for improvements to existing car park facilities and the introduction of parking meters where required.

Shirley BID also states it will make ongoing investments to improve the Christmas light displays, introduce promotional campaigns to highlight independent businesses and work with partner organisations to improve street paving maintenance.

Voters have until 5pm on 23rd May to vote.

If the ballot is successful, with a majority of businesses voting in favour by both number and aggregate of Rateable Value, the 1.5% levy will be mandatory on all businesses in the BID area with a Rateable Value of £7,500 and above.

It has been calculated that for the average business, the cost of the BID levy would be less than £1.35 per day.

Writing in the Shirley BID five-year Business Plan, Jon Wilson of Boots Shirley, said: “I am convinced that a successful BID will markedly improve the outlook for the entire community of Shirley in terms of improved security measures, local marketing and most importantly a real chance to have a unified voice and purpose for all businesses.

“This is a one-off special opportunity to have a real impact on our own turf.”

The effectiveness of the Shirley BID Business Plan would be measured by regular surveys, analysis of footfall and sales performance data, plus tracking of vacant unit levels.

Andy Powers, director, Martin & Co Solicitors, added: “I believe as a business you are part of the community, and therefore you should involve yourself in those activities that will improve the community.

“I firmly believe Shirley BID will improve the area for all whether you are a business or a resident.”

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