llanblogger special report on the major scheme which could change the face of the local business scene
Llangollen businesses go the polls this week to vote on whether they want to take part in a Business Improvement District (BID).
A BID is a partnership in which businesses from a defined area elect to make a collective contribution to the development and improvement of their commercial district.
If the majority of those entitled to join a Llangollen BID vote in favour of the scheme when they take part in a postal ballot starting tomorrow (Thursday) more than £400,000 would be available to spend on a range of projects to boost the town over the next five years.
The working group promoting it have used consultants Mosaic to put the BID offer together and they have sent out a business plan to those due to take part in the vote.
Voting closes on March 19 with the result due to be officially announced the next day.
The ballot will be carried out by Electoral Reform Services (ERS).
For it to go ahead more than 50% of businesses who vote must vote in favour of the BID by number and, of the businesses that do vote, those in favour must represent more than 50% of the total rateable value of all votes cast.
The 22-page business plan, several of whose pages are emblazoned with the message “Vote Yes”, goes into detail about what the scheme means to Llangollen.
The plan document says that for the past year the BID team has consulted with businesses “in many ways” to get their views on the scheme. Consultation, it adds, has included:
· * Gathering feedback on a feasibility study
· * Task Group meetings to represent businesses across the town
· * Newsletters distributed to all businesses via post and in person
· * A website providing key BID information and contact details.
· * Drop-in sessions providing businesses with the opportunity to meet Mosaic and ask questions
The plan says: “Throughout this consultation we have continued to hold face-to-face meetings, conduct telephone calls and written correspondence, provide presentations and facilitate group discussions with town businesses, public agencies and stakeholders as well as national headquarters, in order to gather input on the development of the Llangollen BID.”
* BID priorities chart.
It goes on: “You have told us you would like the BID to focus on the following three key priorities:
+ Marketing and Promotion: £180,000. Increasing footfall by delivering comprehensive and professionally managed marketing and promotional campaigns, an improved online presence and quality events and entertainment.
+ Access and Car Parking: £100,000. Creating a pleasant, efficient and accessible town centre environment by improving signage making it easier for people to navigate around town and improve the key entry points. Working with existing providers to look at ways of improving car-parking.
+ Business Support: £45,000 Providing the support and initiatives businesses need to thrive, increasing local loyalty, reducing business costs and providing businesses with data and information they need to make trading in Llangollen Town Centre easier.
The business plan makes the point that these projects are “over and above” those that have to be provided by public sector agencies such as Denbighshire County Council and Llangollen Town Council and through business rates.
And it says: “This is your chance to invest more than £400,000 over five years on projects and priorities that matter to your business through a BID in Llangollen.”
If approved, the BID will be run as an independent, not-for-profit, company known as Llangollen Business Improvement District Ltd.
It will be controlled and run by businesses that pay the levy, through a board of directors that represent the various sectors and stakeholders in the town. The company may also choose to employ staff as they see fit.
The BID will be funded by a levy on each eligible business in the defined area with a rateable value exceeding £2,500. Businesses below this threshold are exempt but can join voluntarily.
Collectively the total fund will exceed more than £88,000 each year to be spent exclusively in the town.
* BID indicative income and expenditure 2020-2025.
The BID will also generate additional funding through voluntary contributions, grants and sponsorships.
The business plan says the BID will create an “instantly recognisable Llangollen Town Centre brand, to be used in all BID projects and services.”
This branding will include the culture, heritage, leisure, independent, and office and commercial offer.
“This will then enable us to plan strategic marketing campaigns that can be delivered consistently over five years,” says the plan.
“The BID will build momentum and presence by making the best use of TV, radio, print and online resources so that we can get our message to customers both within and outside of the BID area. This will help to boost trade and activity during the day and night, and all year round.”
The BID says it will deliver a comprehensive website containing information on events, offers and news with business directories that can be edited and updated by each business as they wish.
There is also a promise that the BID will maximise on social media presence by using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and providing regular e-bulletins to both businesses and existing and potential customers on specific town promotions and offers.
The plan adds: “In addition to the consumer marketing that will help to bring in customers the BID will also promote Llangollen to potential investors as a business location.
“This includes work with both retail and commercial uses that complement our existing offer, through the provision of resources that help to make the case for why Llangollen is a good place to do business.
“We will also encourage creative entrepreneurship and investment, supporting a strong economic future for the next generation.
“The BID will pump more funding into current events and markets so that they become bigger and better. The BID will also sponsor and become part of current successful events to offer something really special to people coming into the Town Centre.
The board will set the key performance indicators (KPIs) and criteria upon which to measure the BID’s performance.
David Davies, past chairman of the Llangollen Chamber of Trade & Tourism, said: "I am very disappointed with the BID group for issuing such a bias-in-favour brochure with inaccuracies and an irregular, redefined area not previously presented or discussed openly with the town businesses.
"The first some recipients knew they were included in the area was when their brochure arrived.
"Attempts to obtain a full listing of all businesses included in the BID area from Mosaic and Denbighshire County Council have met with refusal.
"A listing that could be published by Llanblogger would show openness of process.
· * Further details of the BID are available by contacting project manager Kevin Brownell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07496 718580.
· * The business plan can be viewed and downloaded from https://llangollenbid.co.uk/en/?fbclid=IwAR15NOMUbB_szVIwjyX02UObnFovizNExytlhOcAEXm4trghKH8CJhHAIy8
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