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Traders in Felixstowe to vote on plans to form business improvement district

More than 300 businesses in Felixstowe have the opportunity to decide if they want to be part of a scheme to champion their interests.

Discussions have been ongoing for the last two years to set up a BID (business improvement district) in the town – a group which looks after the interests of traders and delivers projects to boost the economy.

It would see firms in the town pay a levy, and could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in economic benefits for the area.

Sufflok News Felixstowe High Street Picture by Mark Westley. (41845878)
Sufflok News Felixstowe High Street Picture by Mark Westley. (41845878)

At its meeting on Tuesday night, East Suffolk Council cabinet agreed to back a BID, with a ballot of firms set to be held between October 13 and November 11 to determine if the BID will be formed.

Conservative council leader Steve Gallant said: “I think it’s really important at this time we do everything we can to support local businesses and empower them to help themselves.

“BIDs generally are producing positive results elsewhere in the UK.”

BIDs already exist in Ipswich , Bury St Edmunds , Lowestoft and Newmarket , and it is hoped that ideas used there can help in Felixstowe if traders opt to go ahead with the scheme.

Council officers have been working with Felixstowe Forward and Mosaic Partnership – a company which has helped establish more than 90 BIDS across the UK, in developing proposals.

Paul Wood, head of economic development and regeneration at the council said the five-year BID period would raise around £740,000 investment for the area.

He added: “Overall it’s to enhance the trading environment, address some of the current high street challenges and now can be seen as a response to the Covid pressures, which have exacerbated many of the ongoing challenges that were on the high street.”

The BID will be formed if more than half of the eligible business vote in favour of it this autumn.

If approved, it will also be able to lobby for further funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership and other investment avenues.

Councillor Steve Wiles, assistant cabinet member for economic development added: “The re-opening of the high street has shown how much co-operation between business people is needed now to move their aims forward.

“By pulling in one direction they will be able to move forward and take control of their own destiny.”

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