Login Register
 °

Employers asked for views on proposed Exeter Business Improvement District ahead of February ballot

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: August 13, 2014

BID

BID

Comments (3)

Employers large and small are being asked for their views on the proposed creation of a Business Improvement District in Exeter city centre ahead of a likely ballot in February next year.

If approved by a majority of businesses within the designated area, the scheme could raise around £2.5 million over five years through a compulsory levy on firms. It would be up to companies involved to decide how this money should be spent to make Exeter a more attractive place for shoppers, visitors and workers. Here five prominent business owners and managers give their opinions on the BID and what it could mean for the city centre.

We want to hear your views too – whether you’re for or against the idea. Email business editor Gordon Richardson on grichardson@expressandecho.co.uk or tweet @gordorichardson

Martin McGahey

Related content

Owner of McGahey the Tobacconist in Exeter High Street

How do you feel about the Exeter BID?

I think that the BID is essential if Exeter is going to keep up its marketing strategy.

Exeter is doing well but we do need further investment to put out the right signals. I feel we need the BID to get the funds together.

What do you hope for if the BID is successful?

I hope that we can use the BID for further promotion of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Exeter must take advantage of the Rugby world Cup coming to the city next year as it is something special that we can really highlight.

What do you hope will be included in the BID business plan?

I would like to see some funding put to controlled busking and advertising on High Street. It would be great to be rid of all unauthorised advertising, including A-frames.

I would also like to see adequate transport and parking for the city making the city centre more accessible for visitors as well as locals.

How would your business benefit directly from a BID?

Being in the centre of Exeter I would like to see more footfalls passing thought the centre and perhaps more space for retailers. We want to encourage people to visit and stay.

What do you feel are the current and future challenges for businesses in Exeter?

A main challenge for retailers is out-of-town shopping, for example the planned Junction 27 site. I also feel that Exeter must sort out the parking and transport obstacles that can prevent people from visiting the city centre.

Kate Connock

Store manager at John Lewis, Exeter

How do you feel about the Exeter BID?

The Exeter BID is the most exciting opportunity that, sits on the horizon for this city. This would give us a group of business leads whose focus will be on generating the best outcomes for the businesses in this city.

Whether it is generating more customers, improving the environment or cost efficiency benefits, everyone would benefit. There are some excellent examples around the country where the BID team have managed to deliver real benefit to the area, that otherwise would not have happened.

What do you hope for if the BID is successful?

I hope the BID will focus on three key areas: First, raising the profile of this amazing city and thinking more broadly about who our customers are; second, environmental improvements above and beyond what the council achieve to create a destination that would rival any other; and third, efficiency gains and cost savings through economies of scale.

What do you hope will be included in the BID business plan?

As above plus and importantly a range of car parking charges that are competitive with other regional locations, at present we are the most expensive over three or four hours.

How would your business benefit directly from a BID?

Increased awareness of Exeter and the benefits of visiting, staying, shopping and generally spending your leisure time with us.

What do you feel are the current and future challenges for businesses in Exeter?

We must remain a destination of choice for both business and customer. We operate in a very competitive environment and customers have huge choice, certainly in my sector, retail, the pace of change is huge and we must remain fleet of foot to respond to these change or risk becoming irrelevant.

David Mezzetti

Director of the Real Food Store

How do you feel about the Exeter BID?

An essential tool for additional investment in the city centre.

What do you hope for if the BID is successful?

A strong emphasis on enhancement of streetscape, quality signage and better inclusion of businesses in guides, tourist information and hotel leaflet drops, social media coverage of stories and developments.

What do you hope will be included in the BID business plan?

Strong representation of Independents on the BID Board.

How would your business benefit directly from a BID?

In our case, Paris Street has no certainty of tenure beyond March 2016 so any direct benefits are likely to recede if we have to move outside the BID area.

What do you feel are the current and future challenges for businesses in Exeter?

For retail, the ever-shortening tenure of middle sized businesses as they struggle with business rates and rent levels. Thus a constant question of ‘how long will a new business last – as ‘bricks and mortar’. There is a limit to how many ‘chain’ restaurants and food outlets can be sustained. The new independent entrants in the field have on the whole assessed their offer and financial viability well.

Mattie Richardson

Proprietor of Bunyip Beads & Buttons in Fore Street

How do you feel about the Exeter BID?

I feel positive about the prospect of Exeter BID. All our needs and ideas, as a business community, could now have the possibility of becoming a reality, which is exciting. It’s great that Exeter’s business community is talking, and hopefully, working together, both big and small businesses are involved in BID meaning we can share each others resources, strengths and ideas.

What do you hope for if the BID is successful?

I hope that if the BID is successful next year, that things will start to happen quickly so that we can see a tangible difference to the city. We need this to happen so that people will feel positive about the BID.

What do you hope will be included in the BID business plan?

I would like to see better promotion and branding for the independent businesses in Exeter. It would be great if Exeter turned into THE place for independent shops. We would love to have more events on Fore Street, which close the road and showcase the vibrancy of the area.

I would also like to see more practical things included in the plan such as better pavements, bike racks and street art. It would be great to also see more promotion for the ‘Exeter Trails’ and really push out all the exciting things happening in the city.

Would your business benefit directly from a BID?

My business would benefit from better promotion of the independent community. I believe that through this promotion we would see better trade and footfall in the area. This will also benefit the community in the areas that we trade by making the city centre a more vibrant place to live.

What do you feel are the current and future challenges for businesses in Exeter?

One of the main challenges is online shopping. We need to be able to keep shops fresh and vibrant so that customers will come and visit us. The more independent shops we can encourage into Exeter, the better, as then we’ll be a more exciting shopping destination.

I also believe that out of town shopping centres are a threat, for example the planned Junction 27 site and Moor Exchange.

We also need to make parking easier so that people can come into the city without the worry of where to park, for how long and at what cost.

Patrick Cunningham, Exeter Phoenix

How do you feel about the Exeter BID?

It’s a great chance to really push on and improve the attractiveness of the city centre. Some of the success stories of BID’s from around the country, such as Bath and Lincoln, are truly inspirational. Increasingly cities are becoming all about their centres and we have a chance to make this one a beacon for the south west.

What do you hope for if the BID is successful?

It’s a unique chance for city centre businesses to work together and shape the future of our city for the common good.

What do you hope will be included in the BID business plan?

Lots of new initiatives, particularly around access and transport; increased and targeted marketing campaigns; extra events such as a range of regular markets; more cultural activity.

How would your business benefit directly from a BID?

Greater footfall, raised profile of the area, lasting improvements to the infrastructure.

What do you feel are the current and future challenges for businesses in Exeter?

Not keeping up with the efforts of other cities let alone keeping ahead of the game; losing out as a destination as a result; losing our attractiveness as a place to live and a place to relocate to.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters

3 comments

  • therioman  |  August 17 2014, 12:02PM

    Wow, what an amazingly balanced article from the Exeter Express & Echo. I think not. Clearly you're in the pocket of the usual suspects - otherwise you'd have also published the responses of the various and numerous businesses utterly against the BID - it's a total jobs for the boys situation with very pathetic benefits when compared to the costs. It's a disgrace that the local paper has posted such a totally one-sided article. Of course I'll be told it's just me because I was against the previous BID - but then with such dubious benefits as "Bird Boxes in Southernhay" (I'm sure that'll help), I'm bound to be against the money draining waste. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that BIDs provide no real economic benefit and have no measurable benefit against the considerable cost (especially once the high administrative costs are drained). It's an unaccountable levy thinly veiled as providing tangible benefits.

  • debpark  |  August 14 2014, 9:19PM

    You only have to look at how a Bid has destroyed Plymouth's City Centre to see how bad this idea is. Take a look at the views of over 1,400 traders in their against bid campaign in Facebook https://http://tinyurl.com/njs64me

    |   2
  • Tsarchasm  |  August 13 2014, 7:35AM

    This isn't an article, it's pure propaganda! The city council tried the same thing not long ago, and a majority of firms voted against having this extra tax levied on them. Where is there any mention of their voices and concerns? A lot of the money raised, if enough firms are bludgeoned into accepting the levy this time, will be spent on what, essentially, the council should be doing if they hadn't already squandered vast sums on vanity projects. There are comments here about making the city centre more accessible by making parking better, easier and cheaper, yet the policy of the city council on the one hand is to use motorists as a cash cow by making parking extortionately expensive, and by the county council on the other hand, whose policy is to make driving in Exeter as inconvenient, frustrating and as stressful as possible in order to intimidate people - residents and visitors alike - out of their cars. We're talking about the aerodynamics of pork here! And there is a very real sense here that the city council will continue to orchestrate these ballots on the BID scheme until such time as the business community come up with the 'right' answer, and accept the levy. It doesn't say much for the council's respect for the democratic principle!

    |   4

      YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

       
       
       

      MORE NEWS HEADLINES