Businesses in Halifax town centre are being asked to consider voting for a small increase in business rates in order to set up a Business Improvement District (BID).
The BID sets aside a pot of money to pay for improvements to the the look and feel of the town centre from introducing hanging baskets and improved cleaning to outdoor events and street festivals.
Marketing Halifax and Calderdale Council will be consulting with town centre businesses to find what kinds of improvements they’d like to see and how much they’d be prepared to pay for them as a levy on business rates.
Tracy Harvey, managing director at Harveys of Halifax and member of Marketing Halifax, said: “This is great news and provides a unique opportunity for businesses to take a real role in shaping the future of the town and build upon the unique strengths of Halifax to make it an even better place to work, visit and have a business.
“The development of a BID in Halifax is a really exciting project. We have a wonderful town here with some great assets but we are not very good at shouting about them,” she said.
Angela Whiley, retail and market towns support officer at Calderdale Council, said: “This isn’t about providing services that the council do as a statutory necessity, it’s about providing extra things that would not happen if that extra pot of money wasn’t available. It’s about a long-term vision for the town.”
If backed by local firms, the BID will be administered by a non-profit organisation which gives all businesses in the area an equal say on where the money is spent.
Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden), deputy council leader, said: “It’s time to look at enhancing and strengthening the retail and leisure offer in the town centre itself, and what better way to do that than in partnership with local businesses?
“The best way to do that is for the council to support the creation of a local Business Improvement District. It will enable us to work with businesses over a number of years in shaping the town centre, to enable them to shape their own priorities. Experience suggests this may be the way forward and we want to explore it,” he said.
Ms Whiley said: “We can put forward suggestions during the consultation, but the decision is with the businesses.
“There’s a higher percentage of votes to renew the BID than the original ballot - so businesses can clearly see the difference that has been made over that term.
“We want it to be business-driven: it’s their money, their voice. If you invest in this, it will invest in you.”
Marketing Halifax has employed the services of consultancy firm PFBB UK that specialises in developing BIDs.
IThe go-ahead for the consultation was given cross-party backing at a meeting of the council’s Economy and Investment panel this week and have agreed to put aside £50,000 to cover the costs of the consultation and feasibility studies.