Bognor Regis businesses to have their say on BID as ballot approaches

Businesses in Bognor Regis are set to have their say on the Business Improvement District (BID) as the ballot date looms.
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The ballot is set for February 14, and all businesses in the BID levy area, which covers the town centre, will vote on whether or not to keep the service. If business owners vote ‘yes’, the BID will continue for a second term, before another vote in 2028.

Businesses pay an annual levy for the service based on the value of their individual commercial property and, in return, the BID offers, maintains and organises a range of business-centric initiatives throughout the town. These include the DISC reporting app, which businesses use to report crime in the town centre, promotion of businesses through a range of social media channels, the town’s £2 parking discs, designed to incentivise trade, and the town centre warden service.

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BID co-ordinator Heather Allen said ‘there is no plan B’ if businesses vote against the BID on February 14 and many of these services could consequently fall by the wayside. "If they say ‘no’, there’s nothing set up to replace us,” she said. “The town council and district council have no statutory responsibility to specifically employ someone to manage their town centres. The budgets for 2023 and 2024 have all been set, so the very latest anything could come in is a whole year away.

Bognor Regis Town CentreBognor Regis Town Centre
Bognor Regis Town Centre

If businesses agree to a new term, BID staff have promised to work towards a range of goals designed to improve Bognor’s image. The BID’s business plan lays out four objectives for their second term in office: ‘Well Known Town’, ‘Welcoming Town’, Transforming Town’ and ‘Empowering Businesses.’

Each objective details the way in which BID officers plan to maintain existing services and work towards the town’s long-term goals. Among the BID’s broader strategies are increased engagement with levy-payers, a professional, fully-funded graffiti removal service, and, eventually, the delivery of a ‘big’ destination event for Bognor Regis.

"Because of all our collaborative approach we’ve been able to prioritise the town centre and push for a lot of funding to come in. If the BID isn't returned, that funding is still secure, but the question is ‘who’s going to deliver on it?’ because the town council already has its workload, the regen board isn't really a delivery agency, they’re a strategic agency and the district council don’t have the manpower,” Miss Allen said.

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"I really hope the businesses do vote yes. I hope they can see that what we’ve done is worthwhile. It might not have been a ‘Business Perfection District’, but it’s definitely an improvement on what was here five years ago.”

The BID business planThe BID business plan
The BID business plan

Jessica Smith, the owner of Little Piggies Cafe on Bedford Street said The BID have already made a huge difference to her business, which started in 2021.

"When we opened, they were the only people that helped me out,” she said. “I had several meetings with them and they were always really positive about everything I’m doing. They pointed me towards the new shopfront scheme, and I got nearly £2,000 for an upgrade. But without the BID, I’d have been completely unaware of it. I just think that, if we don’t have them, there’s no one to turn to help local businesses.”

Opinion is divided in other parts of town, however, and many businesses have made clear they intend to vote ‘no’ come Valentines Day.

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“In the east end of town, where we’re based, most of the businesses don’t want them,” said Grandads Front Room director Dany Dawes. “And I think, if we don’t get that message out there, it’s hard cheese. We just have to put up with them for the next five years and pay the BID levy every year, even though we don’t actually want them in.”

That’s a contentious issue with many of those who say they want an end to the BID. Sarah St-Julien, from the Clockhouse Tower Cafe, also questioned why businesses who don’t want the service should have to pay into it – adding that many on the east end of High Street, where the cafe is based, don't feel they are getting their money’s worth.

"I don’t feel like any of us in this part of town have benefitted,” she said. “There’s been no promotion, or benefits or anything like that. When the BID were first voted in they promised to promote and support businesses, but we haven’t had any of that to be honest. We just feel like we’re just giving money away for nothing. We want a bit more engagement, I don’t feel like they communicate with us or come down and see us, and I think I speak for everyone down this end of town when I say we feel quite neglected. We’re a little ways out from the centre, so I understand some other businesses in other parts of Bognor might feel a little bit differently, but that’s the feeling here.

"I feel like we’re a bit forced into it. It's a bit naughty, really, because I think, if you’ve decided after five years or whatever, that the BID isn’t for you and you don’t want to pay for it, you shouldn't have to. You should be able to opt out. But because other businesses have decided they do want to, we're being roped back in.”

The results of the ballot will be released on February 15. To find out more about the Bognor Regis BID, visit

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