Shop owners in move to revive their fortunes
STRUGGLING storekeepers and shop owners in Clifton Village are planning to launch a new scheme in the hope of revitalising the area.
Clifton has been badly hit by the downturn and there have been a number of closures in the area over the last three years as trade has dropped off or moved to other parts of the city.
The Clifton Village Traders' Association is behind moves to designate Clifton as a Business Improvement District (BID) – which would raise around £300,000 over five years for improvements in the area.
Under the scheme around 300 traders would have to pay an extra levy of 1.5 per cent on their business rates each year.
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Tony Miles, the former Radio One DJ, is one of the driving forces behind the latest attempt to improve the situation in Clifton Village.
Mr Miles, who was known in his radio days as Smiley Miley, helped reform the Traders' Association just over a year ago after concerns were raised about falling trade in the area.
Mr Miles, who is also chairman of the Traders' Association, said: "This is not a new tax it is an investment. The money will remain in Clifton Village to be spent on things that matter to local people.
"Amongst other things we will be able to attract more people to the village, which will be good for tourism and for the traders, both independent and national."
He added: "If we go ahead with the scheme for a Business Improvement District it will give the village a voice to ensure that we get full representation at a local and national level, and we can raise the profile of key issues like those of parking, health and safety."
It is hoped that the money raised could pay for staging events and street theatre as well as the popular Christmas decorations in and around the Mall that appeared for the first time last year.
Details of the BID scheme were made public at a meeting held at the Clifton Club by members of Clifton Village Traders' Association which would manage the project.
"There will now be a 12-week consultation period followed by a postal vote. Then we have to produce a sustainable business plan," said Mr Miles.
If businesses vote for the scheme to go ahead the first levy will be charged in the autumn.
The levy will be collected by Bristol City Council and managed by the Traders' Association.
"This is a way of taking Clifton forward especially in these difficult economic times," said Mr Miles. "If the scheme is accepted in the vote there will be no freeloaders. All businesses, shops, offices, restaurants whether independent or national will benefit from the revenue raised as it will be used to benefit the village as a whole – not just individuals or streets."
The BID area stretches from Bristol Zoo in the north to Regent Street in the south. Similar schemes are already operating in more than 140 towns and cities in the UK.
The idea was one of the recommendations made by Mary "Queen of Shops" Portas in her report to the government on re-invigorating the High Street.
Richard Brooks, director of Savills estate agents in The Mall, said: "We are fully supportive of the scheme which will enhance the general experience of shopping, eating in Clifton and visiting. The cost implications are nominal in the greater scheme of things.
"The revenue that is generated, provided it is used wisely, will have a significant affect on improving the area."