BUSINESS leaders in Wellingborough have called the Borough Council's decision to pull its support from an organisation which exists to fight for the survival and prosperity of the town centre a "travesty."
The President of Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce is calling on business owners in the town centre to back the BID when a re-election is held this autumn.
In March, Wellingborough Council confirmed they would not back the Wellingborough Business Improvement District (BID) for a further five years because the regeneration body 'did not demonstrate any new ideas for businesses' or 'provide any sense of direction'.
Simon Toseland, Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce president, is calling on businesses to support the organisation, which brings an extra 50,000 visitors a year to the town through promotional events.
He said: "The Council's decision not to support the Wellingborough BID is very disappointing. When one considers the challenges facing Wellingborough town centre, which include the evolution of retail towards online shopping, competition from Rushden Lakes, Brexit and the future unification of Northamptonshire's councils it seems crazy to oppose the BID's renewal. With the challenges referred to above, in circumstances where a town centre did not have a BID, most towns would jump at the initiative.
"Prior to the BID, promotion and support of the town centre rested with the occupiers and any support that the Borough Council of Wellingborough could offer. It was the Borough Council that approached me (as Chairman of the Town Centre Partnership) in 2010 asking if the TCP would deliver a BID for the town. For it to now play a role in dissolving the BID is baffling. The BID will commit £1m over the next five years - I'm not sure the Borough Council can match this commitment given its impending absorption into a unitary authority."
Wellingborough BID was launched in 2011. It raises funds by charging members a percentage of their rateable value. A dedicated team, led by Executive Director John Cable, use the funds to organise events to attract visitors to the town.
There are 315 BIDs in England, most are supported by their local authority. Wellingborough BID has the most visited website in Wellingborough. Recent projects include the launch of a loyalty app which rewards people for shopping at certain businesses in the town centre.
Members also benefit from an average of £400 a year saving through the BID's recycling scheme.