Newport traders push on with city centre business scheme
4:30pm Friday 1st February 2013 in News
TRADERS are set to press ahead with consultation over a potential Business Improvement District (BID) in Newport, after the idea received overwhelming support at a packed meeting.
Between 50 and 60 people from a range of businesses across the city centre said they saw it as their way of fighting back in the battle to arrest the decline of the city centre.
A steering group of 12 volunteers has now been set up to try and define a BID area and what issues the BID hopes to tackle.
Business people from across the city attended the meeting at the Newport Centre on Thursday night, where they listened to a presentation from Swansea BID, Argus Editor Kevin Ward, who helped in the creation of a BID in Worcester while editor of the paper there, and Newport City Council city centre manager Louise Powell.
Dave Kenny, a retailer in Swansea who is also part of their BID committee told the meeting: "BID is an investment, but I have already got more back from it than I’ve put in."
A BID encompasses all the businesses in a defined geographical area who ostensibly form a limited company.
They then raise funds through a levy on their business rates between 1-5%, though typically at the bottom end of this scale.
In Swansea for example the level is 1% while in Worcester it is 1.5% collected at the same time as business rates.
That money has then been used by the BID in those cities to tackle things like anti-social behaviour by funding street rangers and taxi marshals or funding "gum blasters" to clean the streets.
Mr Ward said the average cost to businesses in Worcester had been about a £1 a week.
Traders throughout the meeting voiced the need for everybody to try and be positive and that they felt this was an option which had to be taken because Newport was on its knees.
Mrs Powell said the council was "very keen" to support traders in the setting up of the BID and said they had already arranged a meeting with the Welsh Government next week to discuss potential funding help.
To create a successful BID 51% of businesses in the chosen geographical area must vote in favour of its creation.
Alan Edwards, President of Newport Chamber of Trade, who worked with the council to set up the meeting said.
"It’s been really positive to see everyone’s passion but now the hard work starts."