Future of Wellingborough's Business Improvement District goes to the vote

Chillifest ran last month in Wellingborough.
Chillifest ran last month in Wellingborough.

The future of popular events in Wellingborough town centre such as Wellifest and Chillifest will be decided in the coming weeks.

Shops and businesses are being asked whether they want the Wellingborough Business Improvement District, which runs the events, to continue as its mandate runs out in May.

All of the 300-plus shops involved are being balloted about whether they want the BID to run for a further five years and the result will be known at the end of the month.

The Wellingborough BID brings in £180,000 each year from a levy that is charged to the shops in the centre. They pay two per cent of the rateable value of their premises.

The proposed business plan for 2019-24 says: “A ‘No’ vote will mean Wellingborough town centre will lose from April 30 a great many benefits that the BID brings.”

It says the no vote will mean £1m of lost income and investment; the town centre losing momentum and falling behind other BID towns such as Bedford and Northampton and the loss of its online presence and social media campaigns.

Events the BID is involved in include the Christmas lights switch on, Pubwatch, a recycling scheme for shops and also putting hanging baskets around the town centre.

Wellingborough Council, which collects the levy for the bid, has 19 shops involved in the centre and will be deciding whether it wants to vote yes to the bid at a meeting on March 18.

Officers have appraised the BID and put together a list of pros and cons. Pros include the continued marketing of the town centre and the support it provides to the shops and cons include the BID not achieving its goals and that the council may also be able to deliver some of the BID’s services.

The council is also currently developing its own new vision for the town centre.

A report to councillors says: “In respect to the possibility of a no vote and the covering projects, the council has recently employed a town centre project co-ordinator who provides capacity to work on town centre projects including the market, public realm and other initiatives as well as looking at initiatives to support businesses.”

The Wellingborough BID was set up in 2011 and if approved this will be its third five-year run.