AS CHICHESTER heads into its third year as a business improvement district, the city centre partnership has come under scrutiny.
Speaking last week, partnership chairman Andrew Finnamore reiterated his desire to look after the side streets of Chichester and boost their potential for independent businesses.
“It does appear on the outside that things are getting better in the economy. Don’t be deluded by that. The businesses in the city that speak to us all the time know how difficult it is,” he told assembled councillors at a meeting of Chichester District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee last week.
He said the partnership had plans to further boost side streets in Chichester, work which he said was ‘desperately needed’.
“They survived, only just, in the last five years and we now need to do more than just talk about it,” he said.
“As a community we’ve given nothing more than lip service to that over the last ten or 20 years.”
Since 2012, Chichester’s city centre has been a business improvement district, with businesses in the centre paying an extra one per cent levy on their rates.
According to the partnership, there are around 720 businesses paying into the BID, giving it a net budget of £270,000 per year to spend.
The partnership has subdivided its spending into four categories: promotion and marketing, organisation, environment and safety and security.
When BID was elected in April, 2012, it was given a five-year tenure for the city centre and will canvas for re-election for 2017.
During the five years, it has budgeted £370,000 to be spent on promotion, including the Christmas lights, £370,000 on organisation, including a full-time city centre manager, footfall cameras and business communication. There is also £285,000 allocated for environmental issues, such as street clean ups, trees, signs.
Finally, £175,000 is set for crime reduction initiatives, such as ChiBac (Chichester businesses against crime).
ChiBac has been trumpeted as a great success for the city centre, along with another initiative to cut down on crime at night.
Head cameras worn by security guards at bars in the centre have led to a great reduction in anti-social behaviour, according to Kim Long the city centre manager.
“Head cameras have been absolutely amazing,” she said, quoting the manager of the Dolphin and Anchor pub, which she said saw several incidents diffused because people knew their actions were being filmed.
Mr Finnamore also told the meeting maps of the city were ready to be printed imminently, which would help signpost the way for visitors.
He said it had been a goal from when they started but had been held up by funding problems.
“What we chose to do was to prepare a new map of the city that would be placed as a leaflet by every pay-and-display machine in the city,” he said, adding it was now ‘ready to go’.
One side of the map would feature ‘cultural attractions’, with the other containing details of hotels, restaurants and much more.
Around 200,000 were due to be distributed around the city.
At the meeting, Mr Finnamore said now was the time for action to boost Chichester, saying plans were afoot to improve side streets, with £20,000-30,000 earmarked in BID’s business plan.
It has provisional plans for road improvements and also has planning permission for hanging signs and an art sculpture in Crane Street.
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