SHREWSBURY traders will be asked if they want to pay higher business rates so the extra cash can be spent on enhancing the town centre, it has been revealed.
The request forms the basis of a fresh bid to turn the town centre into a Business Improvement District.
The BID scheme would ask business owners in the town centre to agree to a small rise in their business rates, with the extra money generated used exclusively to improve the town centre.
The move could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds which could be used to fund advertising campaigns, improvements to the town centre and promotions.
The scheme would be initiated, financed and led by the commercial sector, with administrative support from Shropshire Council.
Three years ago a vote to create a Shrewsbury BID was narrowly lost, but the scheme has now been revived by traders group Shop in the Loop alongside Kevin Lockwood, the recently appointed as manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside Shopping Centres.
Mr Lockwood has re-located from Lincoln, a town with parallel attractions to Shrewsbury, which introduced the scheme in 2005.
“Without a doubt the BID worked for Lincoln – it brought all organisations and parties together for the good of the city and after its initial five-year operating period businesses voted again to implement it,” he said.
“I have only been in Shrewsbury for a short time but already I can see this is an ideal location for this type of scheme. It would help to improve infrastructure, parking issues and really raise the profile of the town through marketing campaigns and events.
“I really hope people get behind it, especially the council as it needs backing from them to administer the funding.”
Phil Freeman from Shop in the Loop added: “A BID would make a huge difference to Shrewsbury, in terms of its marketing, tourism and retail offer – it would really boost the town.”
Leader of Shrewsbury Town Council Peter Nutting said the scheme could help refurbish Pride Hill.
“Traders would have control of how the money would be spent. It could be used for flowers in the town centre, ad campaigns or the refurbishment of Pride Hill which has been talked about for several years.” Mr Nutting added: “Both the town council and Shropshire Council are looking at what can be done to boost the town centre.
“The BID is one option and we are also looking into funding some of the recommendations from the Mary Portas review. It is still in very early stages and I think a full discussion needs to be had.”
A public meeting will be held at Ashley’s Wine Bar on Tuesday, March 6, at 5.45pm to discuss the BID plans.