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Chippenham BID to be scrapped after business vote against renewal

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BID supporters at the launch of the town centre worker discount card in JulyBID supporters at the launch of the town centre worker discount card in JulyChippenham's Business Improvement District is to be scrapped after businesses in the town voted not to renew its contract.

After four weeks of polling, 199 of the 387 eligible businesses cast a vote, with 105 voting against renewal and 94 voting in favour.

The result means that the BID will cease to operate from March 31, 2020.

A statement issued by the BID said: "Following an extensive consultation process and a four-week postal vote, Chippenham’s business community has voted against continuing the town’s Business Improvement District into a second term.

"For the vote to have been successful, it would have needed a majority of those voting to be in favour both by number and by rateable value. However, of the 199 votes registered, only 94 were in favour."

A second statement, which appeared on the BID's social media streams, read: "This is a sad day for Chippenham, but we hope that the business community fee they have made the right choice. In the meantime, it's full steam ahead for our last major event: Chippenham's Enchanted Christmas.

The BID was established with great fanfare in November 2014 to "better manage and promote the area."

It was one of 300 Business Improvement Districts established across the UK – both Swindon and Salisbury have BIDs, while a move to establish a BID in Trowbridge was abandoned in the face of a vociferous 'Vote No' campaign – and is funded by a ring-fenced levy on business rates.

In Chippenham's case, around £300,000 a year was raised from a two percent levy on 387 town centre firms whose rateable values exceeded £5,000 per year.

Since 2015 the BID had delivered events to increase footfall in the town – including Christmas lights switch-ons and seasonal festivals, and organised initiatives to support businesses, including the Chippenham Business Awards.

It also negotiated cost-saving initiatives through bulk-buying, which included a deal on commercial waste collection.

The BID also co-ordinated the town's Purple Flag scheme, which signals a town's safe and vibrant night-time economy. News that the Purple Flag had been retained for another year was announced today (Monday).

Business Biscuit has asked for clarification around the future of the 2020 Chippenham Business Awards, which are due to be held on February 13, and is awaiting a response.