Andrew Holford (Letters, January 26) is a little harsh to accuse the BID Steering Group of attempting to “force” businesses in the town centre into a BID.
As he points out, there will be a second vote (probably in the autumn of this year) and its result will be legally binding. He then suggests that the proposed initiatives should already be funded by the local authority. On this point he might be correct, but in the real world, we all know that many years of budget pressures on local authorities make this increasingly difficult. The levy raised by a successful BID will also be controlled by the very people who pay it, and who will be able to use it for exactly what they want without any outside interference. (It is ironic that his letter appeared next to one calling for a tidy up of shabby parts of the town – exactly the sort of thing a BID could potentially help with).
There was an overall majority in favour of the BID last time. This is a fact. Therefore we feel beholden to try again.
The turnout was in fact pretty respectable at 38% (compare this to a UK-wide turnout of 36% for the 2014 European elections which happened just a few weeks afterwards). Mr Holford can no more claim abstentions as being anti-BID than the Steering Group can claim them as being pro-BID.
The Steering Group has already agreed that this second attempt will be our last, and I would ask all businesses to think long and hard about the consequences of rejecting the chance to work together to achieve the sort of positive boost for our town centre that a BID can bring.
There is one thing that both Mr Holford and I can agree on and that is to encourage more businesses to vote next time. The next six months will see a concerted effort by the BID Group to engage with as many businesses as possible, and I hope we can push the turnout higher because I believe this will see a stronger and clearer ‘yes’ vote.
Darren Taylor, BID steering group vice-chairman