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Wycombe firms back plans for Business Improvement District
BUSINESSES have voted in favour of an innovative plan to boost economy in High Wycombe's town centre.
Wycombe will become a Business Improvement District after town centre companies and traders backed the proposal put forward by the High Wycombe Town Centre Partnership.
61 percent of businesses were in favour by number and 67 percent of firms based on rateable value supported the plan. The partnership needed to secure a minimum of 50 percent in both categories to succeed.
The partnership will now restructure to become a BID Company and commence the five year term from October 1. After the five year period is up, the BID must seek re-affirming through an election.
A delighted Oliver O’Dell, BID development manager, said: “The partnership has worked extremely hard over the last ten months to demonstrate what could be delivered with an active and well-resourced town centre management initiative.
“The support of the [partnership] board, and the involvement of a wide range of businesses in the town centre, has shown that this town can have an extremely bright future when people work together.
“We must now use the momentum of the ballot result to deliver the support and the benefits that our business community, and their customers, deserve.”
Every firm in the BID - which stretches from Easton Street to Desborough - will now have to pay a levy, collected through business rates, based on the size of their company into a collective pot.
The total package - after grants and voluntary contributions - could reach £1.6m of investment into the town centre over the next five years.
The partnership has already applied for funding through the second round of the Mary Portas scheme, with a result expected in the summer.
Nominations are now being sought from town centre business leaders for prospective candidates to form a new board of directors.
The board will represent, and be accountable to every firm, and will also be tasked with managing the town and deciding how the pot is spent.
A detailed business plan for the first year, based on the BID proposal, and a service level agreement with the public sector will also need to be in place for October 1.
Daniel Tomkinson, Eden director and chair of the current partnership board, said: “This result gives us, as a town, a real fighting chance to be competitive.
“The partnership now has a guaranteed five-year term in which it can finally look to deliver the benefits to business that we have always aspired to, yet have been unable to do so due to a lack of resources.
“The BID brings a range of new opportunities for businesses to become involved in different projects. It also opens the door to new grant funding possibilities.”
Wycombe District Council's deputy leader Cllr Arif Hussain said the BID would help to put the town on the map. He said: "“We’re delighted with the news that the BID has been successful.
"Congratulations to Oliver and the team at the town centre partnership who have worked hard to get such a decisive and positive result from local businesses.
"This is great news for High Wycombe. Creating a business improvement district (BID) puts the town on the radar nationally.
"We’re leading the way with the first BID in Buckinghamshire and other towns are now looking up to High Wycombe as an example of best practice.
"The BID is not only great news for the town centre but it’s great for local people and businesses in surrounding areas – we’ll all benefit from a vibrant and flourishing town centre which the BID will work to develop in the next five years.
"It puts High Wycombe on the map both nationally, as we join 130 other business improvement districts, and locally as we lead the way in Buckinghamshire."