Words & pics by Ed King
The future of the Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) hangs in the balance as local businesses vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for another five year term.
Erdington BID represents businesses from Six Ways to Edwards Road, including all shops fronts on Erdington High Street and Sutton New Road.
Charging members 1.75% of the rateable value of their business, if re-elected the Erdington BID expects to generate £116,000 per year from 2022 to 2027 to help promote and support commerce in the area.
In Erdington BID’s five year forecast, if re-elected the organisation would allocate an annual sum of £26000 towards security, £20000 towards marketing, events and promotion, and £8000 to keeping the streets clean.
£42700 per annum would be spent on Erdington BID itself, paying for a ‘town centre manager, admin, finance, and business support’. A further £3000 each year would be used to pay back Birmingham City Council for loans to cover ‘renewal expenses’.
Terry Guest, Erdington BID and Town Centre Manager, told Erdington Local: “Priorities over the next five years will be to continue to make the town centre a safe and secure place to visit and shop.
“If successful, the BID will increase our warden presence in the area to six days from five, increase shops radio coverage for greater security, and to work with the local police and council to renew the Public Space Protection Order for the area, which empowers police to remove potentially threatening groups and troublemakers.
“We will also continue to press for town centre improvements to modernise the High Street and to work with the council, property owners and developers to that end – and to ensure that funding for such projects will be sought.
“We are also looking at increasing green areas in the town centre – a look at the garden next to the library – projected by the BID – which shows what can be done in small spaces.
“Above all, we will continue to work with ou business owners to ensure that Erdington town centre gets the best deal in creating a quality local High Street fit for the future.”
But opinion on the High Street is split, with business owners divided over whether Erdington BID warrants the annual six figure sum.
In a recent survey conducted by Erdington Local, nine out of 18 business confirmed they would vote ‘yes’ to grant Erdington BID another five year term – with the remaining nine unsure or voting ‘no’.
When the same businesses were asked if the Erdington BID ‘adds value to the High Street’ five answered ‘yes’. Six answered ‘yes’ when asked if Erdington BID was ‘helpful to business during the COVID lockdowns?’
Terry Guest added: “I think we maintained a good working relationship with businesses during the lockdown periods, not forgetting that a large number of our retailers were qualified to remain open and trading.
“The job of the BID during the lockdowns was to ensure that the town centre was a healthy place to visit, and with the help of the council, we were able to do that.
“We also worked with businesses in ensuring that all funding help was available to them – and we had a near 100% success rate with that.”
Further concerns were raised from local business about applications made for multi-million pound investment into Erdington, such as the failed Future High Street Fund and the pending Levelling Up Fund bids.
The Future High Street Fund would have seen up to £13m coming from Government and invested directly into Erdington High Steet.
But due to the final submission being deemed “not eligible” by the then Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall, Erdington lost out on what many believed was a strong application.
More recently, an application has been made to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund which would see £12.7million coming into Erdington.
But some local businesses are wary, with one shop owner stating: “I’ve been here for years and heard countless promises about investment into the High Street… but I’m still looking at the same cracked windows and flaking paint.”
When asked about the pending application, Terry Guest said: “I have to be confident of us getting the Levelling Up award, because the original application contained factors which have been scrutinised and amended – so I am looking forward to a positive result.”
For more on the Erdington Business Improvement District visit www.erdingtonhighstreet.co.uk