Lively Debate For Winchester BID


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Winchester BID AGM

David Cradduck attends the Winchester BID AGM for Winchester Today to see if businesses feel they’re getting value for money from their city representatives.

Winchester BID (Business Improvement District) held its Annual General Meeting last evening in the Walton Suite at The Guildhall – and hats off to Executive Director Cat Turness for remaining unflustered when the IT system misbehaved – and a couple of difficult questions from the floor might have got a lesser character into a bit of a fix.

Interesting stats were presented to the assembled guests, most of whom have businesses in the centre of Winchester, including the fact that a recent survey turned up the response that 45% of those questioned didn’t actually know if the BID provided value for money and a good service. There were more Yes answers than No so at least that was satisfactory.

The BID receives an income of just under £500,000 per annum in the form of a mandatory levy on businesses inside its area to carry out its mission statement to make Winchester ‘cleaner, greener and safer’. This includes part funding PCSOs, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, cleaning up streets, removing graffiti, providing and maintaining hanging flower baskets, promoting Winchester as a place to do business, running at least one festival (Fashion Week – and there are 20-odd others they help) and working with its members, the City Council and other organisations to increase footfall in Winchester’s streets.

Lively Debate For Winchester BID – Thorny Issues

Speaking of which, figures show High Street footfall as being a bit down on last year – along with the national trend – but increasing slightly in ‘speciality’ areas such as Parchment Street and Kingsgate.

The biggest complaint by far at the meeting was to do with limited and reducing parking provision in the City and BID has promised to ‘work with’ the Council on this and other rather thorny issues.

For instance – the matter of street market traders having an unfair location advantage and paying less, which has some businesses, especially High Street retailers, very hot under the collar. In both instances, the BID has limited influence and acts as a punchbag and conduit between businesses and the City Council who control the real power but seem rather impervious to complaints.

The BID appeared in 2008, is nearing the end of its second term in office and will be seeking a third in October of this year so is obviously keen to win and retain confidence, especially of the people who legally have no choice but to fund it.

It sports a small but dedicated team who do a sterling job and are often the unsung heroes making things work for the City.

Despite the odd complaint at open meetings, there is no doubt that Winchester business is better off for having this organisation behind them.