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Watford Town Centre Businesses Vote Yes for Business Improvement District

Businesses in Watford town centre have voted overwhelming in favour of the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID). The BID is set to deliver around £3 million of investment in a range of exciting town centre projects over the next five years and provide a coordinating voice to unite its businesses and communities.

Over 500 businesses and organisations in the retail, leisure, cultural, voluntary, office and public sectors in the area covered by the BID were given the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted a BID and the results of the ballot sees 77% of those that voted and 73% by rateable value backing the BID.

The news has been warmly welcomed by Jonathan Field, chairman of the Town Centre Partnership, the organisation proposing the Watford BID and Head of Branch at John Lewis Watford:

”The Town Centre Partnership is delighted that businesses in the town have demonstrated their confidence and enthusiasm in our proposals. Over the next few months the Board will be busy putting in place staff and the new company structure to ensure we are able to hit the ground running on 1 April 2016 and start to deliver against our Business Plan. This is the beginning of a new and very exciting time for Watford town centre. We would like to thank the businesses and stakeholders across the town who have made this possible.”

A BID is a business-led partnership which enables coordinated investment in the management and marketing of a commercial area. It will be funded by a 1.25% levy charged to those businesses in the area covered by the BID that have a rateable value of over £10,000 and will deliver activities and initiatives that will enhance the look and feel of the town, secure the future of the town and maintain and improve the footfall, through increased marketing, promotion and events - especially while the Charter Place redevelopment works are underway.

The Watford BID will encourage town centre businesses to offer discounts or special promotions during Watford Weekenders, dedicated weekends at traditionally quieter periods of the year, aimed at showcasing Watford’s wide offer and encouraging return visits to the town centre. Service Excellence Awards will be held annually to celebrate the best customer service providers in the town centre across all sectors. The Wow Watford project will bring the High Street to life with attractive, colourful and eye-capturing displays all year round, while the Green Business initiative will explore opportunities for businesses to save money through a town wide scheme, such as cardboard recycling collections or energy saving schemes.

Jonathan continued: “The BID will only succeed if the businesses paying for it recognise a return on their investment. The BID company will be accountable to each and every levy payer and must operate in a transparent nature, that’s why we have pledged to conduct annual business surveys, meetings and to use independent assessors to review its performance.”

Kwame Tefe, vice chair of the Town Centre Partnership and Manager of The Moon Under Water added; “I am absolutely delighted that businesses in Watford have voted ‘yes’ to the BID. As manager of a business that transcends the daytime and night time economies, I can see the benefits of a BID and truly believe it will prove to be a very positive force within the town centre.”

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said; "Watford Borough Council has supported the BID process from the outset, so I am delighted that businesses have given it their backing. We have invested significantly in the town centre over the past few years and the BID will generate a further £600,000 a year of direct investment into the area. This sends out an important message to future investors that we, Watford’s businesses and organisations, are putting our money where our mouths are and are collectively doing all we can to ensure our town keeps on thriving.”

Whilst Howard Oldstein, general manager of the Intu Centre commented; “The Watford BID vision comes at an ideal time to further capitalise on the significant investments intu is making in the town centre. We will work closely with the BID team to drive the town centre forward, raise its profile throughout the UK.”

Over 200 BIDs are already operating successfully around the country, including one in every major city. Their success is ascribed to the fact they are focused, cost efficient and entrepreneurial. They do not replace local authority and police services, but provide additional, supplementary resources and activities

The business plan is available to download online here.

 

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