Businesses in Bury St Edmunds have shown overwhelming support for the town’s Business Improvement District, with 83 per cent of participants voting to keep it for a second term.
As well as building on the success of the last five years and making Bury’s popular events ‘bigger and better’ still, Ourburystedmunds chief executive Mark Cordell has lots of ideas for the future.
He is keen to develop a ‘wolf trail’ attraction in the town next year, get tourism ambassadors trained ready for 2015 and to involve Bury’s rubbish guru Karen Cannard in helping businesses save money on waste.
New ideas – still in the very early stages of discussion – include the possibility of introducing a Fab Feb Food Festival to promote businesses during an otherwise quiet period, setting up an ice rink around the time of the town’s Christmas lights switch-on, perhaps even extending the event, and hosting a ‘festival of sport’ by involving high-profile sporting clubs from the area and using multiple venues in the town to stage sporting related activities, demonstrations, exhibitions, movies or shows.
“We’re doing well but we can’t afford to rest on our laurels and be complacent,” said Mr Cordell, who believes the BID’s biggest strength is its ‘lack of bureaucracy’, though he is quick to point out that it is accountable to a board of independent directors representing 13 different businesses in the town.
“We’re not red tape heavy. Take the Whitsun Fayre beach, for example, which wasn’t cheap – from the idea to delivery took us three months. In a more bureaucratic organisation we’d still be talking about it,” said Mr Cordell.
“Part of the BID’s role is to promote and stimulate and I think we’ve succeeded with that with things like ‘free from three’ [car parking from 3pm] on Tuesdays,” added BID chairman Andrew Speed, stressing that ‘imagination and delivery are at the forefront of what the BID does’.
Pay-on-exit car parking, a loyalty scheme for BID customers and the possibility of joining a large cooperative to allow businesses to cut costs also remain a focus for the BID team.