Waterfront businesses have voted a clear ‘YES’ in a ballot to decide on continuing the Waterfront Business Improvement District (BID), with a 41 per cent turnout in line with the national average turnout for BIDs nationwide.
Results announced today showed 67 per cent of voters backed the BID to continue to drive investment in the Waterfront and give local businesses a greater say in the way the Waterfront is marketed and managed.
The vote gives the go-ahead for Plymouth Waterfront Partnership (PWP) to set up the renewed Waterfront BID2 and to work with Plymouth City Council and other partners in taking forward the Waterfront Business Plan, which will target £10.4 million of investment in the Waterfront BID area over the next five years. The BID will come into operation on 1st April this year and run until 31st March 2022.
Chris Arscott, Chairman of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, said: “This is a strong vote of confidence in Plymouth’s Waterfront from the businesses who trade here and who clearly recognise the potential for a more successful and profitable future going forward under a renewed Business Improvement District.
“The turnout gives strong legitimacy to the vote. It gives businesses, through the PWP, a strong mandate to continue to drive improvements for the Waterfront, to lobby on behalf of the area and to help shape the future of the Waterfront over the long term in partnership with Plymouth City Council.
“On behalf of the PWP Board I would like to thank businesses for their support throughout this process and the Council for backing the business community and the BID by agreeing to ring-fence its services for a further five years and provide significant match funding in what is a difficult economic climate.
“Our focus now is very clearly on putting all the arrangements in place for the start of Waterfront BID2 and on delivering the next Waterfront Business Plan, which businesses have helped design.”
Ian Bowyer, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “Businesses have taken a very positive decision in voting for a second Waterfront BID. We welcome their commitment to vote yes for the BID and to continue to take a greater role in investing in and managing the future of the Waterfront, which is such an important asset for the City with the Mayflower 400 celebrations in 2020 fast approaching this was an important decision.
“The City Council is entirely committed to supporting the Waterfront and the visitor economy and through the Waterfront BID we have the opportunity to empower businesses. It is significant part of the Council’s wider strategy to support growth in the city economy and create jobs and wealth; the objectives of the BID’s second business plan align entirely with those of the Council.”
The confidential, postal BID Ballot was run throughout February by the independent Electoral Reform Service in London, with BID Ballot papers sent out to voters across four square miles of the Waterfront BID area.
The Yes vote represented 86 per cent majority of the total rateable value of businesses which voted in the ballot. (A majority in terms of votes cast and rateable value is required to meet the ‘dual-lock’ mechanism for a BID to be legally voted through.)
Sarah Gibson, Waterfront Manager and Chief Executive of Plymouth Waterfront Partnership said “We want to thank all those Waterfront businesses that voted yes to continue the Waterfront BID for a further five years and continue their investment toward the preparations for Mayflower 400 in 2020.
“And we want to reassure those that voted no to the BID, we want to work with them, to shape delivery of the Waterfront Business Plan to benefit the majority and not the few, to promote connectivity across the Waterfront and with the City Centre.
“Waterfront BID2 is extremely ambitious; it will take us all working together to deliver it to make the difference needed. We will ensure a seamless transition between BID1 and BID2 but step up the pace to get the Waterfront ready for 2020. We will also continue to ensure the Council’s services are ring-fenced and additional new funds are targeted for the Waterfront.
“Top of the agenda will be our work with partners to improve pedestrian and transport links with new boulevards and trails ahead of Mayflower 400, to help visitors make the most of the entire Waterfront’s attractions, shops, bars and restaurants.
Following the positive BID Ballot result, the PWP Board will now work with local businesses and stakeholders to agree the membership of the PWP Advisory Panel which will be fully representative of all geographical areas within the Business Improvement District and which will advise the PWP’s Board on future operational implementation of the Waterfront BID2 Business Plan.