BUSINESSES in central Wakefield could miss the chance to take control of how their money is spent on additional services unless they back the Wakefield Business Improvement District (BID).
The stark warning came from Dave Owens the Chair of Wakefield Business Improvement District (BID) as he made a presentation to Bondholders at their February First Friday.
Outlining the plans for the five year programme that will see the city marketed beyond the district to attract new visitors, create cleaner and safer streets, make it more welcoming and accessible and a great place to do business, he said that without the BID city businesses could lose out.
“We have a very clear plan about what we want to achieve and how we will deliver that,” he told almost 100 Bondholders at Nostell Priory Estate. “In addition to the £1.5 million that the BID will raise it will be able to leverage external match funding to invest in art, culture, infrastructure development, skills and training. But this is dependent on Wakefield businesses voting ‘YES’ by the 27th of February.”
Mr Owens said that payments into the BID were levied according to the size of business, meaning that the city’s large multi-nationals such as Fujitsu and Sainsbury’s would invest up to £25K per year, while small eligible businesses would invest only a few pounds a week.
Last week the distinctive yellow ballot papers were sent to every business in the BID zone that has a rateable value in excess of £12,000 asking for their support.
“We have illustrated the cost to business by way of the number of cups of coffee it will cost each week,” he said. “The vast majority of independent business whether they are retail, office or entertainment will pay the equivalent of a cup of coffee weekly, which isn’t a great deal to invest in your future.”
“It could help to pay for regular city centre events aimed at making Wakefield a national attraction, such as the Rhubarb Festival which brings in visitors from as far away as Portsmouth and Bristol, or pay for improved public spaces or hanging baskets in the city centre that make the shopping experience more enjoyable and encourage people to stay longer.”
“If we don’t give the BID the thumbs up there is a real risk that Wakefield will fall way behind its nearby rivals. That could lead to an ever decreasing spiral of business closures and visitor numbers dropping.
“The BID ballot has been delivered and we need every eligible voter to seriously consider the future of Wakefield City Centre and how we can become a major influence in making it more successful for our businesses,” he added.