Robert Flint of Arnolds Keys: Back the BID – it’s the election which could reap big benefits for every Norwich business
Backing Norwich Business Improvement District’s new term is an investment every business in the city could benefit from, writes Robert Flint of Arnolds Keys.
I’m sensing that we are all feeling a little bit of election fatigue, but there is one very important vote taking place in Norwich this month which every city centre business needs to take notice of.
In a ballot which opened last Friday and runs until July 27, this vote is about renewing the city’s hugely successful Business Improvement District (BID) for another five years – at the same time expanding the area it covers to take in the whole of the city centre within the ring road (more or less).
A Yes vote will see £5m spent over five years making a positive impact on the vitality of the city centre and the success of the businesses within it. And given the importance of Norwich in the county as a whole, a vibrant city goes a long way to creating a prosperous county.
In its first five years, the BID has shown itself to be a proactive force in promoting the city, increasing footfall and creating a buzz which supports hard-pressed retailers in particular. If the high street is to fight back against online retailers, particularly when they are operating on an uneven playing field, working together is the only way it will do so.
The BID now oversees the hugely important VisitNorwich initiative, which brings in vital visitors to the city; its promotional activity takes in everything from the Christmas lights to schemes to reduce crime in the city centre; and it provides a strong, united voice for all city-centre businesses when it comes to lobbying for positive change.
The new, bigger BID also hopes to promote the city as a conference centre venue, help to tackle the growing accommodation issues in Norwich, and expand the city’s free wi-fi area.
The BID is funded by a one per cent levy on the rateable value of all city centre businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of more than £30,000. That means that it works well for the smaller businesses which are such a central part of what makes Norwich unique.
No one wants extra unnecessary costs on their business, but this levy seems to me to be a good investment.
Paying the levy should not be seen as an altruistic measure or a simple cost burden – it is an investment which will reap big benefits for every city centre business.
Robert Flint is head of commercial agency at Arnolds Keys.