Stratford companies vote for Business Improvement District boost

Stratford High Street

Stratford High Street - Credit: Archant

Company-owners and traders are hoping the improvement of night-time safety around Stratford High Street through the upcoming Business Improvement District (BID) will mean a boom in visitors to the area.

Businesses voted in favour of introducing the £1.2million scheme from April 2015 in a bid to better promote the town centre.

Centring around Broadway, Great Eastern Road and the High Street, the area runs from Rick Roberts Way to Maryland rail station, affecting more than 250 separate businesses.

Initial proposals were announced in September with 10 clear aims, including pledges to develop a safe and attractive night-time economy through the introduction of night wardens, creative lighting installations and improved local signage.

Julian Hudson, general manager of Holiday Inn Express, High Street, said the added safety benefits are a long time coming.

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“It’s great for the hotel trade because it looks set to concentrate on the visitor economy,” he said.

“I like the sound of the increased security because that’s something that’s needed here.

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“We get a number of complaints from guests about not feeling safe in the area so it’s good that more is finally being done.”

Although ballot packs were sent out to all affected enterprises, only 40pc, 101, voted in the Stratford Original BID ballot – which closed on Friday – while of those 71pc voted in favour.

Companies will now have the option to buy services together such as waste, recycling and electricity and introduce a new loyalty card scheme for locals and visitors alike.

Almost 250 businesses with a rateable value above £10,000 will pay an annual levy to finance the scheme – 1.5pc of the current value of respective properties, or 0.75pc for Stratford Centre companies – while not-for-profit Stratford Renaissance Partnership (SRP) will make a one-off contribution of £60,000.

Despite the obvious omission of Westfield shopping centre from the “Stratford Original” scheme, chairman of Newham Chamber of Commerce Lloyd Johnson, 39, insists it’s not a case of the “old town” trying to keep up with the post-Olympic boom area.

“What the older BID side can’t offer, Westfield can and that works vice versa,” he said.

“It’s great news for the area and I think every town centre should have a BID – some business definitely work better as a community.

“The natural progression of it all could also see the creation of more jobs.

“If the night-time economy grows then more people will visit, businesses will expand and more people are needed to work.”

Work on the proposal and campaign was funded from the GLA and SRP, alongside support from Newham Council and Stratford businesses.

Racheal Brasier, 38, head of marketing and events for Discover Children’s Story Centre, also in High Street, was one of the 72 that voted in favour.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea and great for the town centre,” she said.

“It should help to make Stratford a place for young people and families, and an attractive area to visit.”

The district also promises to deliver improvements to streets, pavements and public spaces, alongside Transport for London (TfL) and develop and an annual “Love Stratford” campaign to foster greater pride in the town centre.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “It is great that local businesses have voted in support of The Stratford Original BID, it will be a catalyst for further investment and strengthening the area’s ability to compete with other London high streets.

Stratford Original will now register as a company and appoint a series of board members from among the local businesses, in advance of April.

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