Businesses could be hit in the pocket to improve Woodley town centreBy Jon Nurse
February 11, 2013
Businesses could be hit with extra fees to help improve Woodley town centre.
Work has begun on plans to create a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town, which would make all businesses pay an additional tax or fee to fund works in the area.
The idea has been suggested by town centre manager Jacques Lherbier, who complained at Woodley’s town centre management initiative (TCMI) meeting last Wednesday that traders were benefiting a lot from the initiative but contributing very little.
Mr Lherbier said: “The TCMI is financially doing well, but it has been through commercial means and bids for grants.
“In previous years we have coped within the [flexible] budget, but with a BID system there would be a revenue that is established so we can plan the year with funds we are definitely going to receive.”
The proposal raised concerns from Woodley Town and Wokingham Borough councillor Kate Haines.
She said: “We have to appreciate all our traders are struggling and are paying what they can towards the TCMI.
“Maybe we should look at what some of the expenditure is here – like spending less on Christmas lights.
“There must be other ways than penalising the current traders.”
Mr Lherbier replied: “It’s not penalising the traders – it’s taking an active view at managing the town centre and first and foremost getting everyone involved.”
Reading businesses have benefited from a BID system in the town since 2005.
Andrew Nicholls, Wokingham Borough Council economic development officer, said: “I think this is something the borough [council] would be keen to work with and support.
“I actually think it would be quite timely to explore the feasibility of this now with the knowledge it is a very long process, taking between 12 and 18 months.”
Town Cllr Coling Lawley added: “I’ve great sympathy with Jacques. It’s never been easy to get traders to contribute. It may be in the future the councils might not be able to offer us such support.
“It’s important for the traders to take part – the sums of money they donate comes back time and time again.”