Welwyn Garden City BID renewed and funding secured following ballot
- Credit: Mariana Bitonte
Businesses across Welwyn Garden City have voted in favour of renewing their status as a Business Improvement District, while also securing £1.4 million worth of funding following a successful ballot.
After months of planning, 75 per cent of votes cast voted in favour of the BID renewal, meaning it will continue for another five years from April 1, 2022.
84 per cent of voters also went in favour of BID by rateable value, which means businesses with a rateable value of £5,000 or more will pay a levy based upon their rateable value, creating a collective fund of £1.4 million.
“This is fantastic news for Welwyn Garden City and a huge congratulations must go to all the businesses which rallied and joined forces to ensure we secured a yes vote in our renewal ballot,” said Jonathan Field, chair of the BID board.
“Thanks must go to all those businesses that engaged in the process by sharing their ideas and opinions on how we can work together to improve the area and who, ultimately, voted in favour of the plans to support each other in these challenging and uncertain times.
“We recognise how challenging and devastating the pandemic has been for many of our businesses, and we understand how recovery is likely to be a long road.
“The first year of the new BID term will be spent supporting the recovery of our town, getting us back on our feet, so that we can look forward to the following four years with some confidence and enjoy watching our town grow and flourish once again.
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“In order to support this recovery, we will be significantly discounting the first year’s levy.”
The BID has also outlined the following business plan:
- Celebrate a Wonderful Welwyn Garden City - To promote the strengths and develop the profile of Welwyn Garden City and all it has to offer to increase positive perceptions, loyalty and pride in the town centre.
- Enjoy a Vibrant and Sustainable Welwyn Garden City - To provide a vibrant, safe and positive experience for visitors and workers in Welwyn Garden City to enjoy, exploring new sustainable opportunities with businesses and key partners.
- Invest and grow in Welwyn Garden City - Encourage growth, development and investment of businesses which complement and build on the strengths of Welwyn Garden City.
The BID got the thumbs up from Ewart Price Solicitors, with Mounia Le Gaufey hoping they continue their good work.
"It is a yes vote from Ewart Price Solicitors to allow the BID to continue their amazing work in Welwyn Garden City town centre," she said.
"Pre-pandemic, they organised so many wonderful events such as the Cinema on the Green and the World Food Festival that brought thousands of extra people into the centre. They put this town on the map.
"During COVID, the BID team were our rock of support with advice and supplies. Post-COVID, there is a lot of work to be done to encourage people back to the town centre.
"We need the BID to continue with their initiatives to continue to make Welwyn Garden City centre wonderful."
Carley Beck, Howard Centre manager, also voted in favour of the BID, believing the collaborative work between businesses will only continue to help the town centre grow.
“I feel we have all benefitted substantially from working collaboratively, making us stronger as a town, particularly during the extremely difficult times which we have all had to face in the last year and a half," she said.
"I would advise all of you within the BID area to engage with the BID team, you’ll be amazed at the specialist team that is available to help you."
Support provided by the BID convinced many businesses to vote yes, including Snappy Snaps, with Raj Patel saying: "We voted yes for the BID because the support we have received from the BID team has been fantastic, particularly as a small businesses.
"During the last 18 months they have provided us invaluable information, resources and security. They are always ready to help and assist."
Another of those to cite the support received was Future Gifts, with Anthony Clements saying: "The BID has been incredible through the pandemic with their useful updates on government guidance, grants available and how to apply and provided practical advice on shop security in lockdown and cost saving tips.
"The Welcome Back campaign was amazing and we all felt very proud of our town centre."