Hands up! Who wants
to improve Hastings town centre?

Hastings town centre
Hastings town centre

I must confess that the number surprised me.

From White Rock theatre along the sea front to the Italian Way roundabout, back along Queens Road and out to Cambridge Road and everything, including Sussex Coast College, in between.

Of course, there are multi-nationals, like M&S and Boots plus many, many independent, owner-managed businesses.

I hope you’ll agree with me that we have here a wealth of talent and businesses that the 90,000 population of Hastings rely upon. Not totally of course – there are other parts of Hastings and other options further afield but the success and feel good factor of a town centre plays a big part in the community feel of a town.

Stay with me… If we can improve upon what we have already, then that’s got to be a good thing. Right? Which is why a combination of business owners and managers of some of our household named stores have joined together to promote the opportunity that a Business Improvement District (BID) will deliver to Hastings. BIDs have been around for well over a decade and exist in more than 200 town or city locations within the UK. So, it’s not before time that Hastings took advantage of such a scheme. Some would argue that we should have done so earlier.

So, how will a BID work? Assuming the BID vote is a ‘yes’ – more about this later – a separate not-for-profit company will be formed, owned by the town’s businesses. The BID board, made up of business owners and managers, will have responsibility for spending wisely the total BID levy funds expected to be £1M, over the five year term of the BID.

But why do we need to spend more funds on Hastings? The BID money will be used to build on existing strengths and use new projects to grow and improve, enhancing the town for residents, visitors and the business community. The draft BID Business Plan includes four main focus areas:

Marketing, promotion and events.

Direct support for town centre businesses.

Cleaner, safer & more secure streets.

Getting here & getting around town.

All businesses within the town centre boundary, with a rateable property value of £5,000 per annum or higher, will be asked to vote on whether the Hastings BID goes ahead. There are two aspects to the voting – one a straight numerical majority vote and the second must see more than 50% of the rateable value voting in favour. Voting will commence in mid-October, giving eligible businesses 28 days to vote. The result is expected to be announced on Friday, November 11.

Of course, there is much to discuss, not least the business plan and the impact of the BID on Hastings, before voting commences. It’s important that town centre businesses are aware of the detail so that they can make an informed decision, when voting. The BID steering group have set up a series of monthly meetings on the second Monday of each month at 6.00pm and held at Sussex Coast College. The next meeting is Monday 13 June – please try and prioritise being there. We will welcome the BID manager of Lowestoft, a coastal community, with many similar issues to Hastings.

For more information, please visit the website www.hastingsbid.co.uk - detail of the open meetings can be found within the events section on thebestofhastings Or you can call consultants, Revive & Thrive, on 03330 124285 if you’ve any questions. Ian Noble is a member of the Hastings BID steering group.