Safer streets, a more vibrant nightlife and increased visitor numbers are being touted as reasons to vote “yes” to a £630,000 business plan for Morecambe.
Business owners are being asked to cast their vote on a Business Improvement District (BID) for the town, which will see around 350 companies paying an annual levy based on their rateable value.
The money – a total of £630,000 over five years – will be used to promote Morecambe on a regional and national level, tackle grot spots, help reduce crime rates and enhance and promote the night-time economy.
CCTV provision and an extra PCSO for the town are also being considered.
John O’Neill, manager of Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce who is on the BID’s steering group, said the general feeling in Morecambe was a positive one.
Sue Byers, manager at the Arndale Centre, said: “It’s no secret that businesses in Morecambe, along with many other places, have found the last few years challenging.
“Having studied the impact that successful BIDs have made in numerous locations nationally I’m convinced that the creation of a BID, focusing on Morecambe town centre, presents a unique, not-to-be missed opportunity for Morecambe businesses to invest in their own and Morecambe’s vibrant future.
“A successful vote by May 26 is so important, the chance for Morecambe businesses to decide for themselves how over £630,000 is spent over the five-year BID term, making Morecambe town centre a more pleasant, fun place to visit and generating higher footfall, has got to make sense.”
But not all businesses are in favour of the idea.
Tony DK, owner of DK Warehouse in Marine Road Central, said: “It may work for smaller businesses, but for those of us who are paying a higher rateable value, what are we going to get? I’m not going to put 1.5 per cent to something that’s not going to benefit me or any other businesses along the promenade.”
All businesses in the BID zone will be sent a postal ballot form on April 28, which needs to be returned by May 26. Results will be announced on May 27. A public meeting will be held on April 21 between 5.30pm and 8pm at the Midland Hotel with BID representatives available to answer any last-minute questions.
HOW MUCH WILL THE BID COST MY BUSINESS?
The exact amount you will pay is based on the rateable value of your business premises.
Morecambe BID’s levy would be 1.5 per cent of a business’ rateable value over five years.
Businesses with a rateable value of £5,000 will pay £75 a year (20p a day), those with a rateble value of £10,000 will pay £150 (41p a day), those with a rateable value of £25,000 will pay £375 (£1.03 a day), £50,000 will pay £750 (£2.05 a day) and £75,000 will pay £1,125 (£3.08 a day).
John O’Neill, manager of Lancaster and District Chamber of Trade said: “From April next year any business with a rateable value of £12,000 and below won’t be paying any business rates at all, and this will affect the majority of businesses in Morecambe, with many being removed from paying business rates.
“It will mean more money in their back pockets, and in comparison the BID levy is a small amount.”