Peterborough businesses ‘very enthusiastic’ at proposed tax to boost the city centre

Cathedral Square in Peterborough
Cathedral Square in Peterborough
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City council cabinet members have heard of a “very enthusiastic response” from businesses in Peterborough to the proposal for a Business Improvement District (BID).

Dave Anderson, interim development director, who presented a report at Monday’s meeting, said: “Next year we will put the project to a ballot of the 485 businesses in the BID area which, in addition, will involve a supplementary levy of 1.5 per cent on top of existing business rates.

“A majority in favour of both elements is needed to take the project further, and I’m happy to report to members that to date 382 businesses have overwhelmingly supported the project. In fact, I would go as far as to say they are desperate for the BID to be delivered.

“At the most recent meeting of the steering group that we attended we could see the enthusiasm for the BID led by Mark Broadhead, centre director for Queensgate.

“So I think we’re heading towards securing a positive outcome at the ballot in Q1 of 2020.”

The next steps will involve the steering group undertaking detailed consultation and engagement through meetings with a wide variety of businesses, from professional services through to retail and night-time economy.

The basis of those consultations will inform the detail of the BID prospectus and business plan, and how the money for that will be spent over the next five-year period.

“It’s really important that we listen to the businesses in the city,” Mr Anderson added. “Only from them will we be able to get what they see as the priorities for a BID, and build the business plan to suit their needs.”

A Business Improvement District is a defined area in which businesses are required to pay an additional tax to fund projects within the district’s boundaries.

The make-up of the high street is changing fast, and one major change has been the growth of new sorts of food and beverage shops, with the coffee culture mirrored by design breweries, cocktail bars and pop up eateries.

BIDs are putting time and money into arts, sport and cultural events, wine festivals, fashion and cocktail weeks as part of their support mechanisms of the businesses in the BID area.

Robert Alexander, Local Democracy Reporting Service