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Crunch time nears for businesses to decide on St Austell BID plan

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

ENTHUSIASTIC: From left, St Austell BID chairman Chris Witt, chamber of commerce chairman Tom French, Andy Ward from St Austell TIC, Tim Atkins from Stephens Scown and Sean Sampson from May, Whetter and Grose.

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THE BUSINESS community is now reviewing a proposal that could see St Austell receive a £750,000 windfall.

The draft proposal of the town's business improvement district (BID) has now been published and is being sent to the businesses it would envelop.

With their feedback, the final proposal will be published in November along with a five-year business plan, which will be sent to the business community.

This draft details plans on how St Austell – if it becomes Cornwall's fifth BID – will spend the money raised to improve its prospects.

It outlines projects including an events and marketing campaign, improvements to make the town more attractive, accessible and safe, and initiatives to reduce business costs, improve competitiveness and provide a united voice.

Chris Witt, St Austell BID's chairman, said: "We want to increase footfall, drive down business costs and show the residents, and indeed visitors alike, what St Austell has to offer."

If approved, the BID would generate between £75,000 and £150,000 a year for five years, raised by charging eligible businesses 1 or 2 per cent on top of business rates. A board representing traders would decide how to spend the cash.

For it to come to fruition, businesses that meet the minimum rateable value will be balloted in February 2013. If 51 per cent vote in favour it will be adopted and the extra levy on business rates charged to firms in the BID area.

Tim Atkins, of Stephens Scown, on the St Austell BID steering group, said: "It seems everyone wants what we are trying to achieve but businesses are concerned that this is another flash in the pan and an additional tax. To those people I would say look at Truro who have successfully run a BID for the last five years."

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