East Cambs businesses look to innovative new scheme

BUSINESS owners across East Cambs are to explore the possibility of entering into an innovative new agreement that could give them power to make improvements in the areas in which they trade.

A Business Improvement District, or BID, allows trader members to pool resources and decide on, and implement, improvements they would like to see in their area, which could include new signage, promotions or services to boost trade.

The issue was discussed formally at a meeting of the recently established town centres working party last night (Wednesday) in Soham.

Doug Perkins, East Cambridgeshire District Council’s economic development officer, said in his report: “A BID is an arrangement whereby business get together, decide what additional improvements they would like to see in their area, how they are

going to manage and deliver those improvements and what it will cost them.

Once projects and services have been agreed by businesses, these are

costed up. The cost to each business is worked out on a pro rata basis.

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“BID money can only carry out projects and services that are additional to

those that public agencies have to provide.”

Business owners across the district could have a choice of setting up individual BIDs for Littleport, Soham and Ely or a BID for the entire district, though start up costs are could start at �15,000 and take 18months to put in place.

According to figures produced by the council, if a BID of all three market towns was put in place, with an annual levy of two per cent over five years, some �975,580 could be raised and invested in projects agreed by the businesses.