New St Ives festivals planned if BID gets go-ahead
THE team behind the plan for a St Ives Business Improvement District (BID) has unveiled ambitious proposals for at least two potential new festivals to boost business in the town if the BID gets the go-ahead.
A final proposal for a BID – which aims to raise £150,000 each year for five years – will be sent out to more than 400 businesses at the end of this week.
That will then be formally presented at St Ives Theatre on February 27.
A BID would involve businesses paying a small levy on their rates into a central pot that would be spent and managed by those businesses for the good of the town's economy.
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And while the aim is to start tidying the town immediately, BID would begin in June, with long-term plans involving working with existing festivals – like the September Festival – and introducing new ones.
Paul Ford from the BID steering group, who was behind drawing April's Celtic Media Festival to St Ives, said: "People see the potential to develop the food festival, St Ives in December and the September Festival.
"BID would use its resources to do that. But we are also currently talking about at least two new events during the year."
One of those is expected to be an international art festival to take advantage of St Ives' art heritage.
The other issue is identifying when to hold them – possibly in March or April when there is little else going on.
The BID team also plans to attract additional funding to St Ives, and has already begun investigating the possibility of drawing down European funding for things like training programmes.
Mr Ford said: "Most funding has to be matched. We can attract that because we will have the BID money in the account."
A postal vote by businesses to decide whether to enter the BID will take place between March 3 and April 3 with the result announced on April 4.
The steering group says it wants tangible improvements visible on June 1 if they get a yes.
Paul Ford said: "One of the normal problems for a BID is, once it's voted in, it can take six to eight months to get moving by the time it has recruited a board and a manager. We don't want that to happen. We've already started costing actions we can take to improve the town centre.
"We have to accept BID is a five-year programme but we want to see tangible results straightaway.
"We want people who come for their holidays in June, July and August to see the difference to our town."
The only hurdle now is persuading businesses they need to pay for BID.
Mr Ford said: "Once businesses realised that they control the budget, barriers came down very quickly.
"This BID will not be run by the multiples [the chain stores] and it's not going to be run by the council.
"And 70 per cent of the businesses in town will pay less than a cup of coffee per week for BID."