More than 50 individuals with many representing businesses from Buxton came together today to publicly protest against Buxton’s proposed BID (Business Improvement District) scheme. The group gathered outside the Buxton Advertiser and the Town Hall on the Market Place. Local group Vision Buxton proposed the scheme and have contracted consultants Mosaic to conduct a £6,000 feasibility study to see ‘if their is an appetite for a BID scheme in Buxton’.
What is the plan?
The feasibility study funded by Vision Buxton is due to be completed by the end of 2017 and if the decision is taken by Vision Buxton to proceed further, consultants will then conduct ‘detailed Business & Stakeholder Consultation & Research and then Analysis and Presentation of Results & Research’ in 2018. A 5-year business plan will then be developed with ‘further engagement from businesses and stakeholders’. The final stages would ‘Publish Business Plan and commence ballot campaign to ensure all potential levy payers are informed’ and the BID ballot would then take place.
If the ballot of levy payers is favourable it is planned that a Buxton BID Company would commence operations before the end of 2018.
What is a Business Improvement District?
Business Improvement Districts are business led partnerships which are created through a ballot process to deliver additional services to local businesses.
They can be a powerful tool for directly involving local businesses in local activities and allow the business community and local authorities to work together to improve the local trading environment.
A Business Improvement District is a defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill. This levy is used to develop projects which will benefit businesses in the local area.
There is no limit on what projects or services can be provided through a Business Improvement District. The only requirement is that it should be something that is in addition to services provided by local authorities. Improvements may include, but are not limited to, extra safety/security, cleansing and environmental measures.
Many of the people who attended the protest today were concerned about paying the additional cost and one shop owner said ‘i have enough to pay, i simply cannot pay anymore out – insurance is so costly and there are alot of hidden costs people just don’t see. It hard enough running your own business and now they’re trying to do this to, i just can’t afford it’.
One business owner said ‘there are too many groups in the town – we need one group that will work with the businesses and connect with them, Buxton just has too many. And how do we know the money will be managed properly – how will we be able to see where our money has gone?’.
Other views expressed were ‘we need to market the town and yes we need better Christmas lights but the answer isn’t a BID. We need a Buxton town council or a local business chamber that will work with the businesses. Plus this levy will be compulsory and that’s not fair, not everyone can afford it’.
‘We all need to sit down and talk – about we how we can move forward in the interest of Buxton and how it can marketed, especially as the Crescent is due to open in 2 years’.
‘Leek and Castleton can do it – why can’t Buxton?’ said one protester.
Adrian Brown, Chairman of Vision Buxton said ‘Vision Buxton feels strongly that our retail businesses and hospitality providers should take control of the town’s future marketing and promotion. To date it has been our organisation made up of members of the community working on a voluntary basis which has provided the town’s main marketing tools. With the Crescent opening in 2019 and other important additions to Buxton’s economic performance waiting in the wings, a democratically elected BID Board with a significant budget is clearly the way forward for the future of our town’s businesses, residents and visitors’.