Traders should agree way forward before Spalding tries to establish a Business Improvement District

Spalding Town Retailers Association chairman Darren Sutton.
Spalding Town Retailers Association chairman Darren Sutton.

Money could be wasted unless all town traders agree a way forward before any fresh move is made to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) in Spalding.

That’s the view of Darren Sutton, who chairs two business groups, Spalding Town Retailers’ Association and The Crescent Traders.

Spalding Town Centre Management Board, which oversaw the work of former town centre manager Dennis Hannant, is about to be dissolved and hand back £30,000 in section 106 money to South Holland District Council.

Along with the cash there will be a final report from independent consultants, Central Management Solutions, suggesting a BID could be set up.

TCM chairman Matt Clark said the document reports on 101 town centre businesses, nearly half of the businesses “that would likely be involved in a BID ballot and structure”.

He says: “The recommendation of the study, underpinned by the vast majority of its consultees, was that a BID, in principle, is a good idea. Due to this clear appetite, our intention is to pass the report to South Holland District Council economic development department, along with a list of key people and organisations in the town – including Spalding Business Club, Spalding Chamber of Commerce and Spalding Town Retailers’ Association – that we believe could be interested and capable in taking the research to the next stage, and ultimately to a potential ballot.”

Mr Clark says key objectives that a BID could deliver “were very much in line with those which the TCM board looked to tackle, with footfall at the top, followed by events, parking, cleanliness and crime reduction.

Mr Hannant left his section 106 funded post in August, a year earlier than planned, by “mutual agreement”.

In 2009, a massive 75 per cent of Spalding businesses rejected a BID, which would have seen a limited company set up to deliver a blueprint for the town centre’s future and businesses contributing cash to the project through a levy.

Mr Sutton said Spalding Town Retailers’ Association and The Crescent Traders are not against a BID but traders want to know in advance how much money would be available for the project from section 106 money and a levy on businesses.

He said if a BID manager was likely to be paid £30,000 a year, and only £70,000 was raised, that would leave too little cash in the pot for worthwhile projects and end up being a waste of money.

Other questions to consider would include the area covered and if it would extend to Springfields Retail Outlet.

He said: “We are not against a BID but there’s a lot of questions that have got to be answered before we start paying all this money out.”

Mr Sutton wants all traders to meet to discuss the BID but says that won’t happen until next year.

Disappointment as Spalding traders reject BID