Penge Town Centre – Last Chance to BID

The businesses in our town centre are currently voting on whether to set up a Business Improvement District (BID) for Penge. It’s a big decision but we hope it will be successful.

Mark Painter, Shadow BID Board Chair and Commercial Director Propertyworld, explains what a BID is and what it could mean for Penge:

“A BID is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a town centre. The benefits of BIDs, are wide-ranging and this is an exciting opportunity for the businesses of Penge.

The first BID in the UK was established in 2005 and over 280 are currently running including Bromley Town Centre and Orpington. Businesses will be empowered to take a more proactive role in deciding and directing what they want for the area. The steering group that are leading it is made up primarily of the local traders association who know Penge and its customer base very well.

BIDS are funded by a small levy on the business rates of qualifying businesses in the area it covers. If Successful, the BID will have an annual budget in excess of £120,000. This has been 2 years in the planning and more intensely over the last 9 months, when local businesses have been canvassed to see what their priorities are and what they would like to see the money spent on.

It is important to realise that this is not a tax on businesses or letting the council off the hook for the services they provide, which will be subject to a baseline agreement. It is an investment, an investment that can only be spent on services to bring more money and trade into our town centre. On top of that BIDs are great at attracting extra investment which can
generate more return on levy outlay.

The main challenges in the location that a BID could address were found to be cleanliness/waste removal, accessibility and parking, crime and anti-social behaviour and marketing/PR. The BID intends to employ Street Rangers, designed to be an extra uniformed presence and deterrence against crime and also designed to be a key link between the BID and the businesses. If a business has got a problem and want the BID’s help, let them know the next time they walk past your business that week, or call them and get them to come in and have a chat. If local traders want the Rangers can be further invested in and gain police accredited qualifications to give them more powers and better deter crime. This will be alongside enhanced CCTV and a shopsafe radio scheme.

The BID will also look to launch a group purchasing scheme for refuse and recycling which should save the participants more than their actual outlay in the BID. Right now we have a group of local business owners and managers volunteering to set up the BID, but if it goes through a BID company board will be elected. Any business that pays the levy can have someone stand for election to the board. This really is a great chance for all the businesses of Penge to contribute to success and really putting Penge on the map”.

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