VOTE: Do you think the Business Improvement District (BID) will have a major effect on safeguarding the future for Chichester city centre?

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Amajor million-pound scheme has been approved which aims to safeguard Chichester city centre’s future vibrancy as a leading shopping, leisure and tourism destination.

Having been hit by the recession over the past three years, firms across the area were celebrating after voting through the Business Improvement District (BID) this week.

The Observer-supported YES campaign will result in a wide range of benefits including improving the city’s environment through street scene improvement of signage and floral planting, greater and more effective promotion of the city as well as new public arts initiatives over the next five years.

The £1.3m fund will be delivered by the city centre partnership towards targeted projects identified by central businesses.

It will be paid for with an additional 1 percent being added to the business rates as of next April for more than 600 firms within the BID zone inside the city walls.

The scheme’s priorities include:

* a fund for the next six years to solve the Christmas lights provision.

* An initial campaign in 2012 boosting trade for independent retailers including those in Little London, Baffins Lane and Crane Street- with the latter expected to have a distinctive new entrance to draw in more shoppers.

* Creating an “Independents’ Day” on July 4, focusing on small firms including developing a shopping guide for the city centre.

* Greater promotion of the city through dedicated radio/print campaigns and retaining the post city centre manager.

Elated at the BID’s acceptance by the business community, chairman of Chichester City Centre Partnership, Andrew Finnamore said: “The result has been a resounding yes in favour of the BID and we now have quite some job to do to start our work.

One of the most pressing things is to support our independent retailers by enhancing our streets to encourage people to visit these stores. We have a beautiful, historic city and now have the vision and inspiration to provide improvements which have previously been lacking.”

His enthusiasm was shared by Chichester’s city centre manager Kim Long, who is to be appointed as the BID manager.

She said: “This is brilliant news for the city to have gained such a high vote for it.There’s plenty we need to start doing straight away including planning for the Queen’s Jubilee and events for the Olympics next year. The BID will actually save businesses money, create more footfall and create more awareness of the city.”

Louise Fenwick, Vice Chairman of the Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the BID’s success.

She said: “The chamber is absolutely delighted with the ‘Yes’ vote for the BID.

“We look forward to seeing the results of having the BID starting to make themselves apparent during 2012 and playing our part to ensure it makes a valuable contribution to not only retail and tourism, but also to all other business sectors within Chichester to enhance it as a place to live and work.”

Retailer Helen Pattinson, MD of Montezumas, said: “I was really excited to hear that the BID result is a resounding Yes.

“The businesses in the City will now be able to combine their relatively small resources in order to make a powerful impact on smartening up, promoting and marketing our City.”