Andover could become a Business Improvement District (BID) after Test Valley Borough Council has invested £50,000 on expert guidance to start the scheme.
As previously reported on Love Andover, Ipswich-based company Central Management Solutions (CMS) has been appointed the valuable tender to try and encourage town centre businesses to further invest their own money in activities and services to improve a yet-to-be defined area around the High Street.
An Andover BID Steering Group which includes members from Mail Boxes Etc, the Chantry Centre and Marks and Spencer has asked the council and Secretary of State to arrange a bid ballot. The cost to Test Valley Borough Council for securing the guidance is £50,000.
The appointment of CMS was publicly announced at a town council meeting last month before BID Steering Group members were officially informed. CMS, which has experience in establishing BIDs in other parts of the UK, will carry out the ballot process and work with town centre businesses to progress the initiative.
A statement from Test Valley Borough Council says, “A BID is led and funded by businesses that would oversee town centre management within a defined area. The revenue generated by the initiative will be invested in activities and services which are decided by participating organisations to promote the town centre and its businesses”.
If a vote by local businesses is successful, the BID will be funded by a ‘levy’ on Andover Town Centre businesses based upon their property’s current rateable value.
It is currently expected that businesses will pay up to 1.5% of their rateable value to the BID, potentially raising £200,000 a year for the initial five year term.
Decisions on how to spend this money will be made by a board made up of local business owners, but the controversial move already has its detractors. As reported in the Andover Advertiser, local businessman Tony Hooke says he would “rather go to prison than pay Test Valley Borough Council any more money”.
Newly appointed chair of the Andover BID Steering Group Lisa Armstrong from local recruitment specialists Active Staff says, “The benefits from Andover having a Business Improvement District will enhance the already buoyant and successful business community, supporting national and independent businesses to see growth in a town which is a desirable place to do business. The residents and visitors will see an attractive and safe destination to both shop and reside.”
Further information and questions about the BID initiative can be found at www.andoverbid.co.uk, where local businesses are also asked to ‘contribute to the discussion’.