Shirley busi­nesses to vote on levy to boost town cen­tre

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

MA­JOR events and fes­ti­vals, wi-fi for shop­pers and pro­mo­tions for in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses are be­ing planned as part of a mas­sive £550,000 boost for Shirley town cen­tre.

The mea­sures are all out­lined in a five-year plan drawn up ahead of a vote among busi­nesses to es­tab­lish a new man­age­ment struc­ture for the Soli­hull sub­urb.

Firms will be vot­ing to set up a Shirley Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Busi­ness Dis­trict (BID) un­der which they will be charged a 1.5 per cent levy on their rates, av­er­ag­ing £1.35 per day, in re­turn for ex­tra ser­vices.

The BID, which is led by lo­cal firms, pro­poses a range of mea­sures:

Em­ploy a war­den to re­act quickly to prob­lems such as lit­ter or graf­fiti;

Work with part­ners to de­liver im­proved vis­i­tor wi-fi;

De­velop at least two ma­jor new town cen­tre events;

In­tro­duce an an­nual cal­en­dar of street mar­kets;

Make on­go­ing in­vest­ments to im­prove the Christ­mas light dis­plays;

Pro­mo­tional cam­paigns to high­light in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses;

In­tro­duce ac­tiv­i­ties to cre­ate popup shops;

Lobby for im­prove­ments to ex­ist- ing car park fa­cil­i­ties and the in­tro­duc­tion of park­ing me­ters where re­quired;

Work with part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions to im­prove street paving main­te­nance.

The shadow BID board, which drew up the plan, says the town cen­tre is not, eco­nom­i­cally, per­form­ing as well as it should and this would give the area a much needed boost.

In­dra Collins, man­ager of Nando’s Shirley, said: “Nearby towns are get­ting stronger so stand- ing still is not an op­tion and the BID will be solely fo­cused on work­ing to achieve the best re­sults for the town and its busi­nesses.” San­dra Grice, com­mu­nity life cham­pion at ASDA Shirley and chair of the Shirley BID Shadow Board, said: “Shirley town cen­tre has many strengths , which in­clude its var­ied re­tail mix, its leisure of­fer and the fact that it is a great lo­ca­tion, al­though, as with many other towns, Shirley has suf­fered at the hands of the eco­nomic con­di­tions and the growth of on­line shop­ping.

“In re­cent years, we have seen the cre­ation of BIDs in lo­ca­tions such as Acocks Green, Har­borne, Kings Heath, Soli­hull and Sut­ton Cold­field and these have re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in those ar­eas.

“A BID for Shirley would see the town cen­tre mak­ing sim­i­lar gains and it is there­fore some­thing which the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity has ex­pressed a strong sup­port for.”

As well as se­cur­ing fund­ing through the levy, a BID can also ap­ply for fur­ther grants to en­hance the area.

Smaller firms, with a rate­able value of less than £7,500, are ex­empt from the levy.

The full busi­ness plan is avail­able at the web­site www.shirley­bid.co.uk

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