Traders set to be consulted ahead of vote on second-term BID for town
Retailers in Falmouth will be asked to decide later this year if they want a second term of the town's Business Improvement District – with project leaders saying they are confident of securing a 'yes' vote.
The BID's current term has supported initiatives including a free parking scheme, attracting more cruise ship passengers into the town, better signage and Falmouth's successful festivals programme.
It has also taken its Save the High Street campaign to the Houses of Parliament, where it lobbied Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help retail centres.
By the end of its current five-year term, the BID will have raised around £460,000 in investment from the private sector, with BID bosses saying that it has leveraged in a much greater contribution in terms of time, training and PR.
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Between 60 and 70%of retailers in Falmouth are independent traders and the town has one of the lowest vacancy rates at around 6% compared to a national average of 14.5%.
The BID has also had a focus on attracting tourists, including cruise ship passengers into the town centre.
"If you look back five or ten years you had South West Tourism, Carrick Tourism and Visit Cornwall. Some of those have since been swept away and if the BID had not been voted in when it was Falmouth would have really suffered because no one is there to fill the gap of galvanising destination marketing," said BID chairman Nigel Carpenter.
BIDs work by charging a levy to retailers within a designated area that sees each pay a proportion of their rateable value.
In return, the private sector can decide how to allocate this extra resource in order to maximise footfall and visitor spend.
BIDs have failed to get the go-ahead in Exeter and Newton Abbot in the last two years, while retailers in Camborne and Newquay have backed BID schemes and Truro has secured a 'yes' vote to its second BID.
A proposal for a BID in St Ives has also been made with the town's Chamber of Trade seeking funding to formally consult with businesses on the idea.
With the economic outlook now vastly different than when marketing was done for the first BID, its chairman and manager said they were optimistic that the second term would get the go-ahead.
"I feel very confident because of the track record and success we have had. There is still a lot of work to do in terms of shaping the programme and plan that businesses will vote on for the second term but I would be very surprised if it didn't continue," said Mr Carpenter.
A business plan will be put together during this year after consultation with the BID's 400 retailers. They will then be asked to vote on this in a ballot in November.
"A lot of good work has happened to support the town and we're going to be putting a lot of work in over the next six months," said BID manager Richard Wilcox.