Bridgend AM Carwyn Jones has urged businesses in Bridgend town centre to vote in favour of establishing a Business Improvement District for Bridgend when the ballot papers are issued within the next few months. Following Bridgend Council’s cabinet approval to progress to the ballot stage it will be the decision of business owners based within 20 of the town centre’s streets to cast their votes on whether they want the BID for the town.
A number of BIDs have already been set up across Wales including in Newport, Neath, Llanelli, Caernarfon and Bangor, Aberystwyth, Pontypridd and Swansea. Swansea was the first BID in Wales and the 29th in the UK to be set up in May 2006. The Welsh Government has supported the setting up of BIDs in a number of towns across Wales. Bridgend is the last of the Welsh Government supported towns to go to ballot.
Given that a BID is business led and funded by business through a BID levy, if the BID is to go ahead, it must carry a broad base of support with a majority of businesses supporting it; more than 50% of votes cast must be in favour of the BID. Also, a ‘yes’ vote must represent more than 50% of the aggregate rateable value of votes cast.
Carwyn Jones AM said “Having a Business Improvement District for Bridgend will bring a number of benefits. Already discussed by the BID steering group have been a number of key priorities for improvement such as better marketing for the town, improving access and parking, creating a safer and more welcoming town and seeing what measures can be taken to best support businesses in the town. A successful outcome will see these and many other priorities taken forward.
“It is important to note that the BID levy will not go to central government but instead be managed by the BID company and used in the BID area. The BID levy will be collected separately. The BID levy will deliver projects in addition to those statutory activities and services provided by Bridgend Council.
“Through the BID company, there will be an opportunity to create a brighter Bridgend with the clear aim of attracting more visitors and investment into the town- a chance to carve out a distinctive USP for the town. Also, I believe that supporting a BID scheme will be another tool to counteract the increasing challenges that town centres such as Bridgend currently face. Under the BID banner, the traders and local businesses will be in a good position to be able to innovate and be creative due to its independence. Also, a number of BID schemes have proven successful in attracting funding in addition to the BID levy”.
Mr Jones added “I would urge all those who are eligible to vote to take part. I also hope that traders will see the potential of contributing to a BID scheme. I know there are concerns from some traders who question why they should pay an additional tax on top of business rates. It is important to bear in mind that many businesses will be paying less or no business rates in the future as a result of the new Welsh Government commitment to reduce business rates for most small businesses in Wales. This is an opportunity to make Bridgend a better area for doing business and I for one would not want to see this opportunity lost.”