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Barnstaple traders asked to consider second Bid for town

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 June 2014

Barnstaple High Street.

Barnstaple High Street.

Archant

Shop keepers asked to complete straw poll on new five-year Business Improvement District.

Barnstaple High Street. Barnstaple High Street.

BUSINESSES are being asked whether they would be willing to continue contributing to a fund to promote Barnstaple town centre.

Only a handful of the 430 town centre businesses have so far responded to a straw poll issued by BID Barnstaple asking if they would back a second five-year Bid when the current one ends in March next year.

Traders currently pay one per cent of their rateable value into a fund to pay for extra marketing and promotion to attract shoppers.

Speaking to the Gazette on Wednesday, BID Barnstaple co-ordinator Sue Rawle said only nine from a possible 430 town centre businesses had responded to the straw poll.

“I am concerned for the town that they fully understand and consider the pros and cons and make a balanced opinion,” she said.

“If there is no Bid, there will still be support for traders but there will be no budget.

“Please let us know what you think by filling in the poll online or by handing in a completed form to our office on the Square.

“It is not legally binding in any way; this is all about feedback – would you like another Bid or not?”

Mrs Rawle said the bulk of the money spent in the current Bid had gone on marketing and events, and that figures showed an increase in visitors to the town, and a decrease in empty shops.

“I think it’s been a success without a doubt,” she said.

“It’s about the delivery of a whole raft of things that drive footfall into the town centre – what they do when they get here is up to the shop holders themselves.

“One thing we were not able to achieve for the town was a big electronic board, which unfortunately fell at the last hurdle.

“But we’ve delivered over and above on everything else and the footfall figures prove it. Statistically we are delivering on footfall and that is the whole aim of Bid in a nutshell.

“Even at the very worst, when we had the effects of the credit crunch, only 8.71 per cent of town centre shops were vacant, compared with the national average of 15 per cent.

“Now, vacancy rates are down and the High Street has been filled all bar two units.

“I am not saying that we got it all right; there is lots of room for improvement. But you always have to have a plan of action and if we work together we can achieve a lot, such as television and bus advertising.”

Traders can visit www.bidbarnstaple.co.uk to register their views, or alternatively, drop in a completed form at the Bid Barnstaple office on the Square.

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