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Plans to form a dedicated business group for Romford town centre to go before Havering Council

PUBLISHED: 08:17 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:37 09 April 2018

Romford town centre.

Romford town centre.

Archant

Businesses in Romford could benefit from a government scheme to revitalise the town centre’s economy, if councillors and traders back plans to form a new business enterprise group.

A proposal by Romford Town Management Partnership (RTMP) to form a Business Improvement District (BID) has been recommended for review and approval at this week’s Havering Council cabinet meeting, with business leaders hoping the idea will bring in £2.75m to spend on projects and developments aimed at boosting trade in the town centre over the next five years.

Should the proposal be approved, Romford business owners will be balloted in June.

If successful, businesses in the proposed area would then pay an additional levy, 1.3 per cent of their rateable value, in to a pot of money that would fund projects to help increase footfall and drive more trade into the town.

The proposed area for the BID includes more than 440 premises and covers Central Library, Como Street car park, properties opposite North Street and within the boundaries of the ring road.

Romford’s BID proposal has four pledges, to promote and inspire, to create a safe, diverse and vibrant evening and night-time experience, to ensure a warm welcome by creating a positive place and to champion the needs of the Romford business community.

Jonathan Poole, chair of RTMP, a collective of 23 Romford business owners, said on the group’s website: “I believe that a Business Improvement District is a great opportunity to showcase our town.

“Romford has so much to offer, from its shopping to its vibrant night time social and entertainment scene, as well as a great place to live and work.

“As a business community it would be valuable for us to come together to drive even more success within Romford, creating a positive impact on the town’s economy, residents and potential new visitors.”

Romford’s BID is also being backed by Tom Stoppard, centre manager of the Brewery, and Havering councillor Jason Frost, (Mawneys ward).

The scheme has already proved an overwhelming success in Havering, with the London Riverside BID being renewed three times, while a thriving BID also operates in Ilford.

Created in 2009, Ilford’s BID was renewed in 2014 with 97 per cent of businesses in favour of keeping it.

Ben Collins, manager of Ilford’s BID, said: “It’s a way of businesses pooling their resources together to deliver projects that enhance the trading area.

“But the BID needs to deliver what the businesses paying in to it want it to deliver.

“In Ilford there’s a real appetite that the BID captures the excitement and opportunity of everything that’s happening at the moment.

“Last weekend we had some dancers, workshops and activities in the town centre to help drive footfall during Vaisakhi, it was loud and colourful.”

Ben explained that other Ilford projects funded by the levy include Street Ambassadors, who help the public with anything from finding the right bus to suggesting where they can buy a new pair of shoes, a joint security scheme and the annual Christmas lights and parade event.

“We also do a huge amount of consumer promotion on our social media channels which is a great way of communicating what’s happening in Ilford”, said Ben.

Traders in the levy area would only have to pay if their business’s rateable value was above £10,000, meaning smaller businesses would still benefit from the BID.

“There’s very close to 300 BIDs in the UK now and as a concept they’ve really caught on”, said Ben.

“The vast majority get renewed after their five year terms are up so when it’s done properly it can be a real mechanic for change.

“I would urge Romford businesses to have a really good look at the proposal and if they feel it’s going to deliver a return on investment for them then they must support it.

“There was massive support in our last renewal so the proof is in the pudding.

“We’re out everyday talking to businesses and they are behind us.”

RTMP’s proposal is set to be approved at Wednesday’s full cabinet meeting ahead of a vote in June.

For more information and to find out how the BID might affect you, go to romfordbid.co.uk

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