Following announcements at the Cheshire East Cabinet meeting last Tuesday the Town Council has issued the following statement:
'The Town Council is disappointed that Cheshire East Council has announced that it will not support the local business community in its desire to investigate support for a Business Improvement District (BID) in Crewe Town Centre. A BID can only happen if a majority of businesses support the idea in a referendum. No one has suggested imposing extra rates on businesses against their will. If they vote for it, businesses will pay a small levy on their rates to be pooled and they will decide how it is spent. Before putting it to the vote we need to find out first of all if there is sufficient support amongst local businesses to justify preparing a detailed plan setting out what it would cost businesses and how the money might be spent. The Town Council agreed to contribute to the cost of this preparatory work in September 2014, and businesses have been waiting for a decision from Cheshire East on whether it will also contribute. Now we have the answer.
This is a business led scheme, and it is for businesses to decide whether they still want to proceed. The financial commitment from the Town Council remains on the table. The BID process is democratic, phase 1 would determine the general appetite for a BID and phase 2 would take that through the formal consultation processes for business to determine if it sees a BID as being in its local interest.
There are already over 150 BIDs elsewhere in the country, the nearest being in Northwich where it has made a real difference. The Town Council firmly believes local government is here to support business rather than make decisions for it.
The Town Council sees a successful BID as complimentary to any regeneration programme in the Town Centre, the lead times in establishing a BID may well be far quicker than any major capital projects that may come forward. As such a BID, if approved by referendum, offers the prospect of short term impact and above all will bring businesses together who can then express a collective voice on any more detailed regeneration proposals.
Finally, the Council expresses wider support for regeneration in the town centre. The Crewe Community Plan sets out fifteen principles for regeneration in the town centre and we are pleased that on the face of it the recent intervention by Cheshire East is in line with these principles. Obviously the devil is in the detail and we require more time to study the proposals, but would invite Cheshire East to engage with the Council, businesses and people of Crewe to talk about their plans.'
For more info about what a BID is and how they work click here.