Shirley businesses to vote on levy to boost town centre
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