Business improvement project would give Saffron Walden ‘the best chance of thriving’, says Waitrose manager

Jim Brewin, manager of Waitrose and chair of Saffron Walden BID steering group. Picture: CINNAMON LE

Jim Brewin, manager of Waitrose and chair of Saffron Walden BID steering group. Picture: CINNAMON LETTERS - Credit: Archant

Fresh calls have been made to encourage Saffron Walden town centre business owners to join forces and improve the area.

Saffron Walden High Street. Picture: ARCHANT

Saffron Walden High Street. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The project would make the town a Business Improvement District (BID) - a defined area where a ring-fenced levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill.

The money is then spent on whatever projects or services businesses want to provide, with the only condition that they should be something in addition to services already provided by the local authority.

Jim Brewin, manager of Waitrose and chair of Saffron Walden BID steering group, said: “We believe that by creating a BID for Saffron Walden we’re giving the town the best chance of thriving in the future. Who wouldn’t want to invest in ensuring that Saffron Walden remains a great place to work, shop and trade?

“Cambridge, Newmarket and Bury all have BIDS now, so it’s important that we recognise our competition and work to create an advantage for Saffron Walden, through promoting our heritage and preserving our unique local shops.

“We don’t want to get left behind – especially when funding for the Town Team is likely to run out at the end of this year.”

The levy for small businesses would be about £3-4 a week, and improvements to the area could be anything from street cleanliness to introducing parking promotions and co-ordinated marketing campaigns.

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Currently, there are more than 270 in the UK.

Explaining why, Mr Brewin said: “In a nutshell: because the concept works.

“Many BIDs are now on their second and third terms, which means that local businesses had a positive experience during their BID’s first five years and opted to keep their BID going thereafter – when they had opportunity to say ‘no thanks’ instead.”

As well as recognising Waitrose’s contribution to the town, Mr Brewin also said having a BID would help boost smaller businesses.

“We want to support the local business community. As the largest retailer in the town we’re proud to provide an important service for local people, but we recognise that the town’s special character is boosted by having twice as many smaller, independent shops as the national average.

“Independent shops have been hard hit by national changes in people’s shopping habits, and we are determined to help Saffron Walden businesses succeed.”

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