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How businesses can help shape Norwich city centre's future

PUBLISHED: 11:00 16 December 2011

Stefan Gurney, manager of the City Centre Partnership in Norwich; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP/EN Christmas magazine 2009

Stefan Gurney, manager of the City Centre Partnership in Norwich; picture by Adrian Judd; for EDP/EN Christmas magazine 2009

copyright of Archant 2009; 01603 772434

How businesses can help shape the city centre's future

A business improvement district (BID) is a chance for city centre businesses to help shape the future of Norwich.

Norwich businesses can have a greater say over what improvements they want to see in the city that will help them trade and grow.

By contributing 1% of their rateable value they will have a fund of almost £700,000 a year that shops and businesses can use to improve the working and trading environment of the city.

Over the next five years the BID could invest an extra £3.5million in our city centre and continue to buck the trend of decline seen in so many towns and cities across the UK.

These problems received huge amounts of coverage in the press on Wednesday after Mary Portas made her recommendations to the Government on reviving declining high streets.

In Norwich we are lucky enough to have a thriving retail sector - ranked ninth in the country and predicted to climb even further.

Norwich punches well above its weight, with our shops taking in almost as much revenue as Newcastle, despite having a far smaller population.

A successful BID will work with businesses to continue to drive our fine city. The businesses will decide what the BID focuses on; initial conversations have suggested promotion, green issues, lobbying and safety.

The BID has had over 150 face-to-face meetings and over 300 responses to our survey asking businesses what they want and understanding where Norwich stands at the moment.

Suggestions so far include providing a strong voice for city centre business, national promotion, tackling anti-social behaviour, more events and seasonal campaigns and issues with park and ride have been raised.

But whichever projects are chosen to be supported, they will be picked by businesses for businesses. This will not be a substitute for local authority services.

2012 is the crucial year for our BID and we want to encourage all businesses to be involved.

In January there will be group meetings with a wide variety of businesses from all different sectors from the BID area, coming up with ideas and projects that the BID could spend its money on to benefit every business.

A BID needs to get a majority of votes in number and rateable value of votes cast – which protects the interests of both small and large organisations.

By April Norwich BID will have a draft business plan and the vote is scheduled for July 2012. There are over 150 BIDs across the country and now Norwich has its chance.

What do you think of the BID? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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