Town centre set for £1m investment as firms back the BID

Hastings BID Steering Group: 
left to right: Colin Dormer, Alan Matthews, Rob Woods, Pat Horwill, Ian Noble, Andre Brincat SUS-161116-073346001
Hastings BID Steering Group: left to right: Colin Dormer, Alan Matthews, Rob Woods, Pat Horwill, Ian Noble, Andre Brincat SUS-161116-073346001
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Of the 206 firms that voted in the ballot, 72 per cent were in favour of the BID proposal, with a turnout of 45 per cent - above the national average for a first-time BID.

Hastings BID Steering Group: SUS-161116-073358001

Hastings BID Steering Group: SUS-161116-073358001

The money will come primarily from a 1.5 per cent levy on 456 businesses in Hastings town centre with a rateable value threshold above £5,000.

Rob Woods, town centre manager, said: “This has been an excellent result for the Hastings BID. Although it is tough on the High Street at the moment, Hastings’ businesses have voted in big numbers to invest £1m on initiatives that will have a positive impact on the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre”

The result of the ballot was summed up by local businessman Dr Remzi Tanriverdi, who said: “Congratulations to every person who thought about the future of our town. Personally, I am so proud of the result.”

The Hastings BID aims to deliver, among other things:

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• Marketing initiatives to help promote Hastings to new visitors and investors.

• More town centre events, Christmas lights and greening.

• An enriching, enjoyable and safe experience for visitors to the town.

• Collaborative buying power to save money.

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• A stronger voice for local businesses.

GOOD TIMES BECKON

Voting took place between October 13 and November 10 and a total of 456 businesses and organisations in Hastings town centre were eligible to place their vote for or against the BID - a total of 206 votes were cast.

In order for the vote to be a ‘yes’ and for the BID to proceed, the ballot had to secure aggregate rateable value in favour and a majority vote in favour of the BID.

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A total of 206 votes were cast with an aggregate rateable value of £10,058.400. Of those 206 votes cast, 148 were in favour (72 per cent) and the aggregate rateable value in favour was £5,576,950 (55 per cent).

Rob Woods added: “This emphatic ‘yes’ vote will allow local businesses to take ownership and make a real difference to the success of their town centre.”

A board of business owners will now be established to oversee the investment over the next five years, but good times beckon for the town centre, according to those who backed the BID.

Colin Dormer, chairman of the Hastings BID Steering Group and manager of F. Hinds the Jewellers, said: “The support and yes votes have turned this exciting opportunity into a reality for Hastings.

“I’d like to convey my thanks to all the businesses that voted and to my colleagues on the Steering Group who gifted so much of their time to the BID project. Also to the staff and councillors at Hastings Borough Council, to Sussex Coast College, Pissarro’s and Hastings Works for the use of their premises during the campaign, to the Hastings and St Leonards Observer for its excellent coverage of the BID and finally, to Matt Powell and the Revive and Thrive team, our BID advisors.”

He added: “It has been a great team effort but I would pay special tribute to Jane Dodson, formerly of Hastings Borough Council, for her support and to Rob Woods, Ian Noble, Brett McLean, Alan Matthews and the Healthy High Streets team who all worked tirelessly in the final few weeks of the campaign.”

Cllr Dawn Poole, Hastings Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration, said: “This is excellent news for businesses and organisations in our town centre. The Hastings BID will start on April 1, 2017 and will fund 18 additional town centre projects within four themes; a better feel for the town centre, better connections and communications, a stronger business voice and a safer place.

“All funds generated by the BID will be held by the newly created BID Company to spend locally on its approved projects.

“Our thanks must go to all that have been involved in getting this project up and running.”

DYNAMIC AND VIBRANT

The ballot result has been welcomed by a number of business owners in Hastings town centre.

Andre Brincat, manager of Marks and Spencer, said: “M&S believes Hastings BID will play a critical role in accelerating Hastings’ commercial success, making it a more dynamic and vibrant place to be in business.”

Ian Noble, owner of thebestof Hastings, said: “The BID will raise the town’s profile, attracting new commercial sectors, inward investment and skilled workers into it. The BID will also help to improve the local infrastructure and services that are critical to attracting outside investment.

“More importantly, the Hastings BID will give local businesses greater control to ensure their future on-going success.”

Pat Horwill, owner of Gifts and Giggles, said: “As an independent business in Hastings we believe the Hastings BID can only be a winner for Hastings in these economic times, to benefit businesses, residents and shoppers in our wonderful town.”

The Hastings BID proposal was launched earlier this year with a vision to make Hastings town centre a better place during the five-year term of the BID. It will take the lead in delivering a thriving, safe, clean and vibrant town centre that is attractive to investors, residents and visitors, and which continues to provide the widest possible range of shops, services and facilities for the local community.

The Hastings BID will be financed by a levy applied to 460 businesses within the area. This will generate around £1 million in its first five years. The levy will be collected by Hastings Borough Council and 100 per cent of it will be passed back to the BID, allowing the company to spend it on approved local projects.

The BID will be managed by a board of directors that have overall accountability and responsibility to ensure that the business plan is delivered effectively.

CHALLENGES

The BID looks to address challenges facing town centres nationally and locally. In Hastings, the town centre currently has a vacancy rate of 7.4 per cent - a figure which has stubbornly existed for the last 12 months. The upper part of Queens Road, Trinity Triangle and White Rock are the areas most affected by empty premises.

Since 2008, town centre footfall is best described as ‘predictably inconsistent’ and a recent survey indicated that a huge proportion of town centre businesses felt anti-social behaviour has increased. Ninety per cent of those taking part in the survey felt their business and the town centre is adversely affected by inappropriate behaviour.

Nationally, the biggest challenge facing town centres is the changes in consumer spending habits. Town centres are still a main destination for shoppers but the growth of Internet sales and huge retail parks are testing them.

It is estimated reductions in council and police funding will continue.

While town centres remain a high service priority, businesses see BIDs as a way of enhancing the current services to give them advantages over other areas.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

There are already more than 230 BIDs throughout the UK cumulatively investing more than £200 million in projects decided upon by their respective local business communities.

In its business plan, the Hastings BID already outlines a number of aims and objectives it hopes to achieve during the five-year term.

One of the four key aspects of the proposal is creating a better feel for the town centre. Within this area, the BID hopes to introduce the phased extension of Christmas lights to Queens Road, Havelock Road, South Terrace, Trinity Triangle and White Rock.

It also hopes to expand the events and street vitality programme, purchasing a Group Insurance cover, bunting and flags, offering advice on event management and establishing a grants fund for groups to hold events.

One of the primary aims of the BID is to achieve Purple Flag status for the town centre. Purple Flag is an accreditation process similar to the Blue Flag for beaches, but for town centres that meet or surpass the standards of excellence in managing the evening and night time economy. The BID sees this as an excellent marketing tool for the town’s evening economy and start of a longer process of encouraging a more diverse evening offer.

The BID is looking to also work with traders to link up parking, restaurants and entertainments such as the theatre, pier and cinema to encourage visitors to stay longer.

A second key aspect of the BID proposal is creating better connections and communications in the town. This will include launching a new, web-based initiative called ‘Love Hastings’. This will support the current Hastings Card, local businesses and business owners by promoting all of the best news stories, offers and events you can find in the town centre.

As part of Love Hastings, a visitor guide and heritage map will be produced, specifically promoting key historic and leisure destinations such as America Ground, Queens Arcade, Alexandra Park and Hastings Pier.

A third key aspect of the proposal is creating a stronger business voice. The BID will be business led, ensuring all businesses can have an input into decision that affect the town.

The BID will act as a single, coordinated voice for the business community of Hastings town centre, influencing, lobbying and engaging with public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure the best deal for the town.

The BID will also offer businesses the opportunity to reduce costs through collective purchasing of services such as waste collection and energy. It will also partner a range of organisations to provide businesses with, for example, financial advice, business loans, visual merchandising and training in subjects such as health and safety, food hygiene and first aid. It will look at lobbying for reduced parking charges for workers in the town centre and explore other transport initiatives, such as car sharing and increased cycle provision.

Hastings currently has only 1,000 overnight stay beds, compared to 7,000 in Eastbourne. The BID will explore ways to promote investment in enhancing and promoting the town’s visitor accommodation offer.

The final key aspect of the proposal is creating a safer place. This includes an additional security presence funded by the BID, supporting the Neighbourhood Policing Team, Priory Meadow security, the CCTV team and the business crime reduction coordinator.

The BID will fully support the Business Crime Reduction Partnership and will incentivise businesses in the area to join by subsidising current fees. Members will receive all the current benefits including images of excluded individuals, an opportunity to link to the Watch scheme radio network and exclusion orders automatically applying to their premises.

The BID’s initial five-year term will end on March 31, 2022. Before this date, the BID Company may elect to seek a renewal of the BID for a further five-year term and will seek a new mandate via a BID renewal ballot.

The campaign’s website www.hastingsbid.co.uk will be retained until a new ‘Love Hastings’ site is developed.

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