Exmouth business scheme ‘will benefit all’

The consultant planning a new scheme to boost business has responded to concerns from traders.

Lucy Ball is drawing up a Business Improvement District (BID) where businesses would pay an annual levy.

An estimated �160,000 a year would be generated from more than 600 businesses to be spent on boosting business.

But many have got cold feet – Albion Street traders have pulled out and Ms Ball is looking to address the concerns of the others.

There are 130 BIDs in the UK and she said they were popular because businesses took control of their own trading environment.

“It is all about being self- sufficient,” she said, “ensuring that it is not just the generous few who always put their hands in their pockets (like Christmas lights) for the benefit of others who free-load on their generosity.”

In many cases, she said, small businesses would pay less than �4 per month, where larger businesses, like Co-op, would pay up to 20 times that.

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She insisted that not one penny collected would be spent on the town manager’s wages or on set up costs. “The costs for the set up …including the salary of the town manager will be met from Tesco (Section 106 money) …and the town council.”

Tesco and Lidl could still contribute, despite being outside the BID zone: “Big companies outside the BID area are (often) invited to make a voluntary contribution.

“Negotiations with Tesco have already started and Devon Cliffs has already pledged…�10,000 each year.”

With the ballot set to be held next year, she said now was not the time ‘to close the door’ on an opportunity from which the whole town could benefit.

“BIDs in other towns have seen crime reduce, vacancy levels fall, spend per head increase and graffiti, littering and vandalism decrease.”

If parts of Exmouth wanted to opt out, she said it was ‘up to them’ but added: “(Exeter Road) were deliberately included…because it is usually the streets on the periphery of the towns that miss out in favour of the High Street; they will benefit most.”