Mixed reaction from business owners

Banbury Business Improvement District project. Town centre. NNL-160628-154859009
Banbury Business Improvement District project. Town centre. NNL-160628-154859009

Efforts to designate Banbury town centre as a Business Improvement District (BID) took another step closer as a public consultation was held outlining what the scheme could bring to the town.

The town hall meeting was presented by Banbury Chamber of Commerce, Cherwell District Council (CDC) and Heartflood, who ran a feasibility study into the BID.

Leaders of two neighbouring BIDs were on hand to outline the very different additional services that the scheme brings to their respective business owners, who pay a small levy to fund it.

Stephanie Kerr, manager of Leamington Spa’s BID, was first to provide a detailed analysis of its benefits.

Set up in 2008, the Leamington BID has focused its resources on events, marketing and promotion and has a similar size and revenue stream as the proposed Banbury BID.

Ms Kerr said: “We’re a BID that’s focused on three main areas. One is marketing, promotions and events so we run the highly popular Food and Drink Festival, and a whole line-up of events and festivals throughout the year.

“We also deliver what we call enhancements so we contribute to the Christmas lights as well all of the floral displays in the town.

“Then we also have another arm of activity, which we call influencing the agenda, which is really about supporting businesses. I’m a town planner originally so we support them on planning issues, licensing things like that, but also get involved with working with the district council, county council and local business enterprise partnership in order to leverage more support for the town centre economy.”

The other BID representative was Aftab Gaffar, managing director of Rugby’s BID named Rugby First which has been in existence for 11 years but provides the businesses of the town with an entirely different set of services in comparison to Leamington.

Referred to as a ‘crime and grime’ BID, the services centre around cleaning, CCTV monitoring and antisocial behaviour but as these issues have been successfully managed, Rugby First has started branching out into marketing and event organisation.

Mr Gaffar said: “I’ve only got 20 minutes to speak so I will struggle to say everything we do. You have to remember we have been going for 11 years with a lot of improvements within our BID and we’ve been adding things on to provide more to our businesses.”

The next phase of Banbury’s BID process, financed by CDC, will culminate with a ballot of town centre businesses in September.

To read the reactions to the BID presentation click here.