As the recession starts to bite and shoppers start to keep a much closer eye on their purses, it’s a sad fact that King’s Lynn town centre, in common with other towns, has slowly but surely started to head into decline.
Businesses have shut down, leaving empty premises, as shoppers increasingly switch their buying habits to the internet. The town is in danger of becoming less vibrant, and a less attractive place to visit.
But now there’s a fantastic opportunity where local businesses can help the town centre get back on its feet again.
A group of local business men and women have got together to try to set up a Business Improvement District (BID). A BID is a an area in which local businesses agree to pay an additional charge on top of the business rates in order to make agreed improvements for the benefit of the area.
Visitors would benefit by having a more attractive town centre, and businesses would benefit from the resulting extra footfall.
If the plan goes ahead the town could benefit by receiving a £1 million investment over a 5 year period. The funds would all go into a special pot to be exclusively spent on improving the town.
“I hold a particular passion for King’s Lynn and wish to find a way to revitalise the town centre and believe that the best and most effective way to do this is to work collectively rather than as individuals; this is why I consider the Business Improvement District to be so vital,” said Ben Colson, Managing Director of Norfolk Green, and chairman of the BID Steering Group.
Darren Taylor, Managing Director of KLFM, told us: “I moved to King’s Lynn about a year ago after working for over 20 years in Cambridge. I’ve fallen in love with the town and with Norfolk in general.
“I passionately believe that the future prosperity of King’s Lynn lies in a busy and vibrant town centre. King’s Lynn is a great town with warm and friendly people, some great businesses and an amazing heritage that we need to celebrate and share with the wider world.
“A BID will give real power and financial muscle to local business owners and gives us all the chance to take control of our own destiny.
Over 200 BIDs have already swung into action across the UK, including locally, Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Bury St Edmunds, Boston and Cambridge.
“There is considerable political support locally for us adopting a BID. We are moving forward to a formal vote of businesses, which will hopefully take place in the summer. Once we have a positive vote, the BID company can be formed and we can immediately start work on behalf of the town, ” said Ben Colson.
Among the things that BID could deliver over the next five years include:
- An effective marketing campaign to promote King’s Lynn outside of the region
- New map boards around the town to encourage visitors to visit other retail areas and heritage sites
- Production of a King’s Lynn Guide to encourage first time visitors
- Provide more seasonal events
- A town centre wide discount card
- Free Wi-fi in the BID area
- Additional CCTV
- Subsidised parking
- Encouraging entreupreneurs to try out market stalls
- Street marshalls to act as a friendly host for the town and point visitors in the right direction, as well as reporting crime and rubbish.
How to have YOUR say
King’s Lynn BID is undertaking a Survey to better understand the business community’s view of the town centre, and suggest improvements and initiatives that could be undertaken to improve trading.
The feedback from the survey will also help to shape the BID’s Business Plan.