Wellingborough's Business Improvement District will end after council withdraws support

Wellingborough's BID has been running since 2009.
Wellingborough's BID has been running since 2009.

Wellingborough’s Business Improvement District is set to come to an end after the borough council and other town centre businesses voted against it continuing.

The regeneration body, which has been helping bring improvements to the town centre since 2009, will cease to exist from May after a ballot returned a narrow defeat with 68 votes for and 74 against.

The BID works by collecting rates from businesses which are then spent on town centre improvements, initiatives and events such as the medieval festival.

Chairman of Wellingborough BID Chris Bailey is angry about the decision and said after helping to put a nail in the coffin of the bid the council will now need to step up to the plate.

He said: “The BID would have brought in £1m of private investment over the next five years, money which would have been used to improve the prosperity of the town centre by attracting more visitors. We now challenge the council to put their money where their mouth is and guarantee a similar level of investment.

“The BID has another two months to run to the end of its term, we will continue to support our businesses through this period. We are actively exploring future options for the BID in light of the surprising council decision not to support the re-election.”

Wellingborough Council had made public its decision to vote against the BID continuing before the ballot had ended on March 29. Mr Bailey says the council’s ‘intervention’ worked against the BID. As a landlord the council had 18 votes altogether.

The authority says it will be employing a new town centre co-ordinator and has big ambitions which include spending money from 106 payments on improvements. Its town centre strategy is yet to be finalised.

Chairman of the council’s development committee Cllr Jon-Paul Carr said: “The council recognises the support that the BID has shown for the development of the town centre and local businesses over the last five years, however the proposal for the next term did not demonstrate any new ideas and did not provide any sense of direction to address the national concerns facing high streets.

“We will work with key partners to deliver a vision and strategy for the town centre. This will include investing capital into redeveloping the town centre, and the Swansgate car park to encourage people to continue to visit the town centre and contribute towards the borough’s thriving economy.”

The council, along with others in Northamptonshire, is applying for up to £25m in funding from the government to regenerate its high street.

President of Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce Simon Toseland is also unhappy with the council’s decision and said the council should leave the regeneration and development of the town to experts. He said the town needs a BID to regenerate.