Report calls for Council and businesses to work together to improve Worthing town centre
Business leaders and Council officers should work more closely together to help traders in Worthing town centre to flourish, a new report argues.
A Worthing Borough Council working group recommends that the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) should continue for a further five years to encourage more visitors to the area.
Worthing has had a BID - stretching from Heene Road in the west to past Splashpoint leisure centre in the east - since 2008 but traders have to agree every five years that they will continue to fund it and the Council has to be satisfied with the way it is operating.
Cllr Martin McCabe, Worthing’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We're committed to a people-centred approach to the economic development of our town, redirecting wealth back into the local economy and into the hands of local people. We're ambitious about moving away from the failed developer-led approach to regeneration and towards a community wealth-building strategy that harnesses the power of our local communities and businesses.
“I want to place on record my thanks to the TCI and our business community for all their hard work in making our town centre clean, safe and accessible. I'm excited about the possibilities for this Council, the TCI and other local groups to work together in new ways to build a long-lasting and resilient Worthing economy."
The BID is managed by Worthing Town Centre Initiative (TCI) - a not-for-profit business-led organisation which is funded by a levy on businesses in the town as well as income from the town centre markets, with traders deciding how the money should be spent.
Over the last five years an estimated £1.4m has been spent by the TCI in the town centre, including deep cleaning pavements, painting street furniture, hanging baskets, floral displays and Christmas lights. The TCI also employs two town centre rangers, who patrol the town centre helping shoppers and preventing crime.
A working group of councillors found that there is unanimous support for the BID amongst traders in the town centre, but that more could be achieved if the TCI worked more closely with the Council and its tourism and investment arm, Time for Worthing.
In turn, the TCI would focus on promoting the town and its businesses, improving the visual appeal of the town centre and making the centre safer and more welcoming for shoppers. It would also organise markets, events and activities to draw crowds to the town and would provide support and advice to businesses.
The Council pays a levy to the TCI as the ratepayer of a number of premises inside the town centre, such as its car parks, the town hall and the pier.
If the Council agrees to support the BID continuing, traders will be asked to agree to its business plan later this year.
For the BID to continue for a further five years, more than 50% of businesses that vote must vote in favour of it, and those in favour must also represent more than 50% of the total rateable value of the businesses that vote. If that happens, all eligible businesses would have to pay the levy, whether or not they voted in favour of it.
If businesses vote against continuing the BID, it will end on 31 March 2023.
For more information about the BID visit https://www.worthingtowncentre.co.uk/business-improvement-district/.