Posted: 05.06.21 at 19:51 by By Graham Hill
Ashby could become a Business Improvement District this summer - in a move which would see £1million invested in the town over a five-year period and a number of fresh initiatives introduced.
A ballot will be held among Ashby’s businesses next month - with the result announced on July 30.
It is hoped enough of them will agree to the town being given BID status - 51 per cent must be in favour by number and rateable value
The scheme already has strong support from a number of key businesses in the Ashby area - and, if successful, will be more than 300 companies strong.
But the plan will not simply be contained to the town centre, as it also includes retail and office businesses in areas such as the Ivanhoe Business and Office Park to the north of the town.
Organisers say the BID is a form of co-operative that will benefit all of the town’s businesses.
It is an arrangement whereby businesses get together, decide what improvements they want to make in their town, how they will manage these and what it will cost them.
This all goes into a business plan which is voted on by all those who would have to pay.
The BID lasts for a maximum of five years and must be able to demonstrate how it benefits the businesses that have funded it.
BIDs deliver additional projects and services over and above those already provided by public bodies.
This BID plans to re-invest in the loyalty and pride of local people while attracting new visitors and investment.
The business plan has been crafted to capture the essence of Ashby and address issues that businesses have said need attention.
Coming out of lockdown, the town’s businesses are acutely aware of the need to drive footfall into shops, restaurants, bars and attractions – both in the centre and further afield.
In fact, he plans were suggested by Ashby Town Traders last Autumn Traders chair calls for Ashby town centre cash boost.
The Ashby BID has been developed by businesses with the help of a local company, The Mosaic Partnership, who are specialists in this field.
Local man Mo Aswat, the company’s founder and director is part of a number of business people who have given their time voluntarily over the last year or so. Mosaic carry out this work across the UK and developed BIDs in nearby Loughborough, Melton and Hinckley.
A report to be presented to North West Leicestershire District Council - which would also form part of the BID - sets out the plans.
It says: “Business groups such as Ashby Traders have had a great deal of success with committed individuals from businesses and partners such as the District and Town Councils, but both its organisational ability and finances will always be limited because of the voluntary nature.
“A BID is a means by which to professionalise the management of our town, make sure everybody contributes and benefits and develop and deliver projects properly.
“You have told us what you want to achieve with a BID in Ashby:
• Help recover from the challenges wrought by the pandemic
• Increase the footfall
• Promote our offer to encourage people to visit and spend
• Reinvigorate the events calendar so that it would be more beneficial to businesses.
• Develop initiatives to support easy and attractive access in and around the town.
• Ensure the reputation of the town as a welcoming and safe place for shoppers, visitors all those who do business there
• Reduce duplication, decrease business costs, and help support and promote towns businesses.
• Ashby BID will help to develop our strengths and our being able to:
• Invest over £1million
• Raise our profile further
• Carry out exciting projects and events to drive loyalty, footfall and spend
• Make sure we are a welcoming, friendly and safe place
• Make it easier for people to move into and around the town
• Give businesses the support they need to flourish by driving down business costs whilst being a powerful voice.
"Once projects and services have been agreed by businesses along with how they are going to be delivered and managed, they are costed and set out in a business plan.
"The cost to each business is worked out on a pro rata basis - which is called the BID Levy.
"An independent and formal vote then takes place on the agreed projects and services and if the majority vote is ‘yes’ then all eligible businesses within the BID area have to pay. The BID levy is normally paid by the occupiers of a property.
"In addition, BIDs can draw in other voluntary funding, grants and ‘in kind’ contributions to supplement the BID levy."
Here is what has happened so far, and what is next.
The BID Task Group have been talking with businesses to understand how the town can be developed in order to address business concerns, interests and priorities.
• October 2019 - BID Feasibility Study presentation to businesses
• January 2020 – Survey & Factsheet to businesses
• March to November 2020 – UK hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic and subsequently the country goes into lockdown
• January 2021 – Recommence BID Work with Ashby Traders Group
• February 2021 – Draft Business Plan produced
• March- April 2021 - BID Business Engagement
• June 2021 – Final Business Plan & Ballot Campaign
• July 2021 – BID Ballot
• Businesses within the BID area will receive a ballot paper by post.
• The vote to establish a BID for Ashby is then formally open.
• From this date businesses can complete and return their ballot papers to Civica Election Services, the independent agents acting on behalf of North West Leicestershire District Council’s Returning Officer.
• The following outlines the Ballot timetable
• Ballot Notice - To be sent by 17 June 2021
• Despatch of Ballot Papers – 01 July 2021
• Close of Postal Ballot – 29 July 2021
• Formal Declaration of Ballot Result – 30 July 2021
If businesses say ‘yes’ to BID, then the advantages have been laid out and organisers say Ashby will:
• Continue to develop and expand our logo and brand encouraging use by businesses and stakeholders
• Develop seasonal/event led marketing and promotional campaigns that will include local and regional marketing to promote the Town and BID businesses. This will include both conventional and online platforms.
• Development of a ‘Reward Card’ Scheme as a customer care tool and to encourage loyalty
• Develop comprehensive website and social media platforms to showcase the complete Ashby experience, promote offers and be an effective way of communicating with customers and engaging with businesses
• Further support our existing events calendar through marketing & financial help where appropriate.
Beyond this key new events will be developed. These will include:
• Ashby Soapbox
• Ashby Open Air Cinema
• Pancake Day
• Medieval Ashby
Emma Clark, BID Lead, Ashby Town Centre Traders says: “Ashby is already host to a number of events that run throughout the year.
"Becoming a BID town will introduce more funding to help grow existing events and introduce new ones, bringing greater footfall, increased spend and stronger community ties to our lovely little market town.”
A ‘Yes’ vote will also:
• Make the Retail Radio FREE for businesses and improve take up and coverage
• Further develop the Purple Flag Initiative through events and marketing.
• Support the expansion of seasonal decorations and lighting
• Expand Floral Displays scheme
Also planned with a ‘Yes’ vote is:
• Developing seasonal/event based free/discounted car parking initiatives
• Investigatiing seasonal Park & Ride service
• Investigating viability of ‘Hopper Bus’ scheme to encourage Industrial Estate/Business Park trade and for events Business Support
• Developed centralised procurement for services such as trade waste, recycling, insurance and the like to ensure reduced costs for businesses. Independent businesses in Salisbury, for instance, saved between £200-£1600 pa on centralise trade waste management initiative
• Being an influential lobbying and advocacy group, working on behalf of the businesses to ensure that their views are fully represented. This will include elements such influencing policy with Councils, representation on local and regional economic partnerships and industry bodies as well as national place management bodies such as The BID Foundation and The High Streets Taskforce which have been instrumental in developing post Covid support and will be leading on recovery support and funds
• Working to ensure that, post-COVID, Ashby is in a position with a plan and a partnership to secure stimulus funding to help businesses and the town recover.
• Providing regular intelligence and information about the business environment by publishing updates so that you are kept aware of the information and opportunities that may impact your business.
• Develop the profile and quality of independent businesses in Ashby from dedicated promotional activities for existing businesses to providing financial incentives and location support to expand or locate to Ashby.
For the BID to go ahead, two conditions must be met:
• More than 50 per cent of businesses that vote must vote in favour
• The businesses that vote ‘YES’ must represent more than 50 per cent of the total rateable value of all votes cast.