Businesses warned to vote for continuation of Exeter BID or Christmas could be cancelled

Businesses in Exeter have been warned that voting against continuing the city’s business improvement district (BID) could lead to Christmas being cancelled.

InExeter, the city’s business improvement district, has launched its 2020-2025 business plan, which aims to drive footfall into Exeter and ensure a cleaner, better promoted and exciting city.

The business plan maps the strategy for the organisation over the next five years, including investment in an increased programme commissioned events, public art and exhibitions, further improvements to the city’s streetscapes, additional services to help businesses, and support for programmes such as Exeter Homeless Partnership.

New boundaries have also been set out that see the area expand to include part of New North Road, Longbrook Street, Sidwell Street, and Magdalen Road, which separate budgeting for Magdalen Road focused projects.

InExeter will be going to ballot in October 2019 seeking a further 5-year term, covering 2020-2025.

But if businesses vote against continuing the BID at the ballot then all current projects and services will cease at the end of March 2020.

Pressing businesses in the area to vote to be a part of the BID, a report went before Exeter City Council’s Place Scrutiny Committee last week outlining the business plan said: “There is no other organisation to deliver these projects, services and benefits on your behalf.”

The projects that would cease, the business plan states, include the Christmas campaign and lighting for the city, free food waste collections or waste electrical collections, city centre management on behalf of businesses, enhanced cleansing of the city, funding towards local area events, and city dressing such as bunting, decorations or hanging baskets.

Chairman of the BID, Patrick Cunningham, said: “The work done to date sets a strong foundation for the next five years. We’ve got much more still to do and that is why we now need support for the ballot in October 2019. The business plan sets out our key focus areas, but as ever we remain responsive and reactive to the business community’s needs, ensuring a stronger future for Exeter.”

InExeter plan for businesses

The InExeter Business Plan 2020-2025 says: “The InExeter area hosts a rich mix of shops, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, venues and commercial offices. Exeter’s diverse mix of businesses, tourists, students, residents and shoppers gives the area a rich character. Demands on the area are high, with services, the public realm and amenities under pressure. InExeter have a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the city, driving change and activating space.

“Our drive to ensure a cleaner, better promoted and exciting Exeter has not changed, and we will continue to invest in these initiatives, but these core services will be enhanced by collaborative working, greater engagement with businesses and stakeholders and new initiatives to support business.

“Our plans within this document respond to a call from businesses to activate the city more of the year with events, festivals and markets; promote businesses and activities; support work around helping the less advantaged; ensure those who use the city feel safe; offer ways to connect businesses and build networks; and enhance the look and feel of our streets. Together, we can ensure a stronger future for Exeter.”

The key priorities that businesses wish to be continued include the marketing and promotion of Exeter businesses and events, enhancing the cleaning and cleansing programme in the city, marketing and advertising of their business across social media and publications and enhancing the appearance of the city, through dressing, hanging baskets, bunting, or Christmas lights, with a visitor survey adding that 81 per cent of visitors felt that decorating the Exeter with Christmas lights was important or very important.

New BID initiatives

Among the new initiatives that the BID, if successful, would aim to deliver in Exeter are:

  • Activate the city centre more evenly across the calendar, delivering more events in the first half of the year, January to June to attract footfall and increase dwell time in the city
  • Invest in new Christmas experiences such as light projections
  • Run sector specific campaigns including independents and the and music economy.
  • Recruit a member of staff to deliver a programme of events for the city working in close partnership with community groups, businesses and stakeholders.
  • Build on enhancing the quality and experience around Christmas.
  • Invest in initiatives such as lighting schemes and directional street art to help brighten areas and attract footfall.
  • Further enhance the cleaning of the city with more regular jet washing and deep cleaning.
  • Add seasonal planting and landscaping to enhance vibrancy with a Greenery Action Plan for Exeter in partnership with stakeholders such as Exeter in Bloom.
  • Campaign for and deliver free parking evenings, Sunday car parking and at key campaign periods.
  • Continue to strengthen our partnership with local police team and have a place on the Community Safety.
  • Partnership Board, Evening and nighttime economy group and Best Bar None.
  • Explore options for investing in additional Police support and presence for the city centre.
  • Offer more channels of business recycling to supplement are current collections of food waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment.
  • Data and footfall to key to understanding trends and InExeter will continue to invest in footfall cameras and insight reports.
  • Magdalen Road will run a separate budget from InExeter to deliver extended projects that include as a priority: Greening and planting schemes; Cycle parking stands; Street decorations, light projections and dressing including Christmas decorations; Wayfinding and signage; Magdalen Road events, activities, festivals and markets; Food waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment with glass collections to be explored; Exploring options to enhance the public realm, access and travel through Magdalen Road.

BID manager, Ann Hunter said: “We were asked by and engaged with traders on Magdalen Road to include this key city gateway and thriving independent row in our next term, so that they can access the benefits already being offered to city centre businesses and deliver programmes relevant to the Magdalen Road.”

The BID term shall run from 1 April 2020 to the 31 March 2025, a 5-year term. The BID arrangements will commence on 1 April 2020

Ballot papers will be issued by post to the named voter at the nominated address on October 1 and businesses will have until 5pm on November 7 to return completed ballot papers

The result of the ballot will be declared by Exeter City Council’s Returning Officer on November 7 and if a majority of businesses vote in the ballot to support the BID Proposal, by number and rateable value, then the BID will formally start its fourth term on April 1 2020.

If InExeter is unsuccessful at ballot in October, all current projects and services will cease at the end of March 2020.

Exeter City Council have already voted to cast its votes in favour of continuing the BID and that contingency plans should be drawn up in case of a no vote.