Bedford ahead of rest of UK with BID

Published on 11 March 2014

Ken Shuttleworth, the architect behind the London’s Gherkin tower, says policymakers should shift the town centre emphasis to services other than just retail.

The report by the Future Spaces Foundation says on-line shopping, which expected to account for 25% of sales by 2016, challenges the traditional High Street shopping identity.

It says retail will benefit from a broader use of High Streets premises which will bring different people past their shop doors.

Chairman of the BedfordBID Rae Levene, who has a large office of lawyers and tenants just off the High Street in Bedford says: “Here in Bedford we recognised the value of non-retailers supporting the town centre when we set up the BID in 2005. Since then Bedford has fared better than many other town centres with a mix of occupancy and interest.

“We have offices and education in the High Street as well as major retailers close by. We have a positive website promoting the whole town centre,uk, an App, a Reward Card, a Voucher supported by 250+ businesses  - and we have a conference on March 18th of non-retail businesses from within the BID to talk about how we can support each other.

“We have Bedford College pouring young people into the town centre and its High Street outlets, we have art in cafes, creative businesses, street entertainment and more.

“Such a major change requires the support of the local authority and BedfordBID has supported the THI regeneration project. As a Town Team Portas player, it has supported sponsorship of town centre events and training for businesses  - using one the Bedford Learning Centre on the High Street.”

Bedford was one of 12 towns selected to trial BIDs in 2005, under a Labour Government, and the system is now being promoted across the UKI by the Coalition.

Rae who has been involved from the start said: “Bedford led the way with BIDs in the UK. It is an all for one approach which is the only way ahead.”

Things you need to know about BedfordBID

*It collects a legal levy from 575 businesses – with the biggest paying thousands and the smallest a few hundred pounds.

*Love Bedford Promotional activity supports ALL businesses within the  BID zone or footprint – including the smallest cafes and shops which do not have to pay they levy (eg they have a rateable value of under £8,100).

*BedfordBID has a board of volunteers who give up time from their own businesses to support the whole trading environment.

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