Local businesses have started voting on setting up the Go! Southampton Business Improvement District in Southampton City Centre.
Businesses are proposing a Business Improvement District (BID), called Go! Southampton. If successful, the BID could transform the city centre and follow the lead set by more than 200 BIDs currently operating in the UK.
Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: “The Cabinet was impressed by the thorough piece of work that has been undertaken by the BID steering group in the preparation of their proposals. A successful BID will bring significant benefits to the city, and will support the council’s vision to make Southampton an even better place to do business, live and visit”.
Ballot papers were posted on Tuesday 4th October, with the postal polling running until 5pm on Thursday November 3rd. The result of this ballot will be announced the following day: Friday, November 4 and the BID will become operational from 1st April 2017.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a defined area within which businesses elect to pay a levy in order to fund projects within the district's boundaries. The BID is often funded primarily through the levy but can also attract extra funding from other public and private funding streams. For a BID to go ahead the ballot must be won on two counts: a straight majority and majority of rateable value. This ensures that the interests of large and small businesses are protected.
In Southampton’s case the area will involve over 600 business premises that are eligible to vote and cover an area stretching from Bedford Place in the north to the waterfront in the South, and the station in the west to Southampton Solent University in the East. It’s anticipated the BID will raise over £1m per annum and run for a five-year term before a chance for renewal. Further details of what projects are being proposed for the BID can be found on the website, www.gosouthampton.co.uk
Local independent coffee house, Mettricks, has opened its third Southampton location in the new Arts Complex in the city’s Cultural Quarter; Mettricks Guildhall adds to its Old Town and Bargate sites. Founder Spencer Bowman sits on the Steering Group and said: “As an independent entrepreneur I have invested heavily in the proposed BID area and in my view it will play a crucial role in taking the city forward. New businesses are crucial to the city centre’s vibrancy and the BID will help create a start-up friendly, entrepreneurial city. These are really exciting times for Southampton and the BID will help us all maximise the opportunities.”