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The chairman of Love Newmarket Business Improvement District has written an open letter to readers.

BID WILL WORK HARD TO DELIVER ON MANIFESTO

As the Journal reported last week, the Love Newmarket Business Improvement District (BID) was successfully re-elected for another five year term commencing April 1.

Notwithstanding the lockdown, there was a higher turnout than in 2016 with 41.2 per cent of the 330 eligible voters voting , and the BID secured 63.9 per cent of the popular vote and 72.5 per cent of the rateable value (RV), which gives the BID board a strong mandate on which to go forward.

In particular, I would like to thank businesses for showing their confidence in Love Newmarket and our manifesto, which is designed to make our town, ‘a great place to live, work and visit’.

Love Newmarket BID
Love Newmarket BID

The BID election campaign was managed in a thorough and professional fashion, and the manager, town ranger and directors ensured that they maintained visibility and engagement throughout. In this respect, it was therefore disappointing that a ‘smear’ campaign was launched against the BID, with malicious and personal attacks via social media platforms made against several of the directors. This was totally unwarranted and orchestrated by individuals predominantly from outside of the town, who were making false statements and claims in an effort to create a reaction.

I would like to clarify the following:

- The ballot was a postal ballot, as are all BID elections nationwide. The postal votes were issued from February 22 and those eligible businesses had until 5pm on March 23 to return their postal vote. Notices regarding the election appeared on our website, in the weekly member email, on social media platforms and in the Journal.

- We have been asked why the election went ahead during lockdown? Every five years a BID has to have a ballot to determine whether the businesses want it to continue for another five year term. This is a legal requirement set out by Parliament. The first term ended on March 31, 2021, and by law, Love Newmarket had to have an election before this date. The directors were aware that after the announcement of the third lockdown, the up -coming election would likely occur under lockdown. As a result the BID manager Paul Brown, Councillor Andy Drummond and also our BID advisor made representations to various bodies for a delay but were unsuccessful in securing a delay.

- Myself (as chair) and the directors are not paid, and volunteer our time to the organisation.

- The BID board structure for the second term is outlined in the business plan. If you work in or own a business which is a member within the BID area and are interested in joining the board then contact me or the BID manager. Alternatively, members can join many of the respective committees, including the ‘events’ and the ‘office’ committees.

- In terms of the levy payable by members, Love Newmarket adopts a banded system based on the properties rateable value (RV). To start paying, a business must have a RV over £5,000 and will pay only £90 per year, which works out at just 25p per day. In fact, over 75 per cent of independent businesses in the BID area pay less than £1 per day. I consider that exceptional value for money in respect of the benefits that can be derived through the BID, including free and subsidised advertising and marketing, enhanced signposting and information boards, promotional events, the provision of essential training courses e.g. Health and Safety, enhancements to the appearance of the town centre, plus the visibility and support of our two town wardens.

- We are encouraged by how many of our members do engage with us. One such example is The Jockey Club Rooms, who invited us to use their facilities free of charge for our board meeting on December 9, and allowed the board to meet in a safe and secure way.

In conclusion, the aim of the BID board through our manifesto is to make Newmarket ‘a great place to live, work and visit’ and working with the businesses across the town, the local council and other key stakeholders, and I confirm the BID board is committed to deliver on this manifesto.

John Morrey, Chairman, Love Newmarket BID

LACK OF FUNDING FOR OUR TOWN

I’m not one to be a regular contributor to the Journal letters section, but surely something needs to be said about the state of our town.

I recently read from a prominent councillor that a McDonald’s planned for a site on the edge of Newmarket was ‘not in keeping with the attractiveness of our town’ . . . really?

Has he looked at our high street lately?

Maybe someone can explain why Bury St Edmunds has all it has to offer for visitors and enjoys regular funding for development, along with places like Ely, and Newmarket doesn’t?

Tony Marshall, via email

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