A group of local businesses are speaking to hundreds of shops and offices across the town in the hope of making Penarth the third Business Improvement District in Wales. Parking and marketing are just two issues the group, called Penarth BID, say a Business Improvement District (BID) could work on, and they are holding six meetings with local businesses in June to find out what else a BID might do.
The first meetings, at Foxy’s Deli on 12th June at 4 and 6pm, will see BID Manager Robert Callaghan and BID Advisor George Grace on hand to answer questions from local businesses about how a BID in the area might affect them. It will be followed up by four more meetings across town and a consultation brochure delivered to every affected business. Local businesses are also able to find out more at the newly launched Penarth BID website, penarthbid.co.uk.
If a BID goes ahead in Penarth it will be only the third in Wales, after Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea, but there are close to 200 across the UK in places such as Bath and Falmouth. A Business Improvement District is a business-led partnership that improves trading conditions in a high street or town centre – in a similar way that a shopping centre manager does in modern malls. BIDs vary in size but typically comprise a few hundred businesses within a designated area essentially “clubbing together” and backing a business plan that sets out a range of activities to support and promote the town.
The projects would be funded by a levy that is usually equivalent to 1.5-2% of business rates – in Penarth, this would amount to around £4-5 per week for most average sized businesses. Unlike business rates which are paid in to and redistributed by government, BID levy money is ring fenced for use only in the BID area – and in Penarth, this could include the Town Centre, the Esplanade and Marina, depending on further consultation.
Suggestions so far for what a BID might do include transport measures to ameliorate parking, a more attractive streetscape with benches, trees and public art, better signage, public transport connecting the barrage and Esplanade and a website and other marketing initiatives to create a strong Penarth “brand” which attract shoppers and tourist to the town.
Penarth BID Steering Group’s Marketing Lead, Lisa Evans, of Evans Entwistle Chartered Management Accountants said “The Steering Group are all very enthusiastic about the idea and what it might mean for improving Penarth. We’re looking forward to finding out what other businesses have to say. This is a great opportunity for local businesses to get together and get their voice heard. So I’d encourage anyone that runs a local business to come along to one of these open meetings and find out what a BID could do for them.”