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Watford town centre businesses vote 'YES' for Business Improvement District second term

Businesses in Watford town centre have voted overwhelming in favour of a second Business Improvement District (BID) term from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2026. Watford BID Ltd will continue operating for a further five years, delivering over £2.5 million of investment in a range of exciting town centre projects and provide a coordinating voice to unite its businesses and communities.

Over 400 businesses and organisations in the retail, leisure, cultural, voluntary, office and public sectors in the area covered by the BID were given the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted a second term of Watford BID, the results of the ballot sees 78% of those that voted in favour and 79% by rateable value backing the BID.

The news has been greatly received by Maria Manion, the Chief Executive of Watford BID since its inception in 2016:

”We would like to thank all our businesses for their confidence in the BID and the yes vote speaks volumes of the exceptional progress we have made as a town in the past five years. Our town centre and its businesses face some very challenging times ahead and we are grateful they see the BID as important in maintaining the value of our town over the next five years. We shall be working with our businesses and stakeholders to ensure we help secure the future of our town.”

A BID is a business-led partnership which enables coordinated investment in the management and marketing of a commercial area. The BID is funded by those businesses in the area that have a rateable value of over £10,000. The charge issued to those businesses will be a 1.25% levy of their rateable value for the first two years, followed by an increase to a 1.5% levy in the remaining three years. Watford BID will deliver activities and initiatives that will safeguard the future of Watford town centre, enhance the look and feel of the town, and improve footfall once restrictions have been lifted through increased marketing, promotion and events.

In the past five years, Watford BID has delivered everything that was outlined in the original business plan. The BID has delivered projects to enhance the look & feel of the town including Summer Floral Displays, spectacular Festive Lights, and colourful Lamppost Banners showcasing iconic local people and places. The BID has raised the profile of its businesses and encouraged footfall with promotional campaigns such as Watford Weekenders, Watford Food & Drink Week, and Winter in Watford. The business plan also underlined how the BID allows key stakeholders to work together to secure the future of the town, and that has certainly been achieved with the intu extension, Clarendon Road improvements, and business grants which have been awarded. The aforementioned projects and campaigns merely scratch the surface on the vast amount of projects and campaigns that have been delivered in the past five years.

Looking ahead, the Watford BID business plan 2021-2026 outlines how the BID aims to build on the successes of the first term. There will be a continuation of the services and activities which have proven to be popular with levy payers and key stakeholders in the past five years. In addition, the BID will support the town’s recovery from the adverse impact of COVID-19, and will introduce new ways of connecting businesses, increasing footfall & dwell time (when safe to do so), and enhancing the look & feel of the town.

Vicki Costello, Chairman of Watford BID and Centre Director of intu Watford shopping centre, commented: “I am absolutely delighted that our businesses have voted ‘yes’ for a further five years of Watford BID, it shows that they truly believe in the business plan and the BID team’s ability to deliver it successfully. There will be a benefit to all businesses no matter the size or sector and we are confident that with the BID in place, our town will be in a better position to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19”

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “Watford has an outstanding regional town centre, with lots to offer from retail and entertainment to great restaurants, café and bars. The BID has a vital part to play in supporting our High Street and all the businesses who work hard to make the town centre such a welcoming and successful place.

Most people will recognise the BID’s work from the fantastic summer flowers to the wonderful Christmas lights and putting extra COVID-19 measures in place so we can use the High Street safely. The BID has made such a positive difference to our town centre and their work will be more important than ever in the future.”

Over 300 BIDs are already operating successfully around the country, including at least one in every major city. The need for successful BIDs has increased as a result of the pandemic, it is now more important than ever that businesses work together for the betterment of the community. BIDs do not replace local authority and police services, but provide additional, supplementary resources and activities.

The business plan outlining our plans over the next five years is available to download online at www.watfordbid.co.uk/ballot.