Bracknell’s Business Improvement District (BID) can be a voice for lobbying politicians, delegates heard at the Invest in Bracknell event.
The meeting, at the Waitrose Conference Centre on the Southern Industrial Area on November 10, heard from the head of workplace and facilities for the John Lewis Partnership Andy Smith who sits on the Bracknell BID and another in Victoria.
Waitrose is by far the biggest occupier on the estate and contributor to the Bracknell BID, which covers both Southern and Western industrial areas
Mr Smith (seated to the left in the image) told around the audience of around 70 that the partnership seeks a return on all such outgoings.
He said: “The power of BIDs is the collective voice of businesses that can come together to make the area a better place. For me, that is the essence of what we are charged with when we make that contribution.
“It is a significant contribution even for a business like Waitrose and John Lewis. The money we put into it has to show a return and, for me, it is really important that we get a really good return on that investment – and then everything else comes.
“To get done the things this BID has done – defibrillators, sorting out the paths, considering transport links – having a single voice to talk to Government and local authorities is really really important.
“This is a really young bid and we are still finding our way. The other bid in Victoria is much more established and I’ve seen what happens when you establish a bid over a number of BID terms. The local authority come to ask their opinion.
“The local authority seeks their support in implementing change, asking for help and we are still on that journey in Bracknell. I know we’ll get there through (BID chair) Maria Sabey’s leadership.”
He said the BID has made doing business more pleasurable because of the improved environment and a collective sense of place.
The success and potential of the BID was praised in a later debate on the success of industrial market in the town, due largely to its connections.
Bracknell Forest Borough Council chief executive Sue Halliwell said she had been impressed by the BID when she arrived in her role.
She added: “If we can have a joint narrative, that consistently goes back to Government and says ‘this is what we need, this is what Bracknell can do for you’, it unlocks more and more opportunity and more investment.”
And Jo Jackson, Thames Valley director for SEGRO, told the meeting: “It’s very easy when, like Frasers (Property) and like us at Slough Trading Estate, you’ve got that single ownership to have control over it, to develop the things around it as well as the types of buildings.
“That’s where the BID comes together to do the kind of things as if you are in single ownership.”
See also: Bracknell labelled ‘industrial capital of the Thames Valley’.
Image (l-r): Nick Hardy (Page Hardy Harris) chairing the debate, Andy Smith (John Lewis Partnership), David English (Panasonic), Clifton Vaughan (Natural Baby Shower) and Nigel Wild (Morgan Lovell).
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