More than 100 business people gathered to hear about Reading’s Business Improvement Districts’ (BID) success over the last five years – and how they can help direct their future.

The current five-year term of the town’s two BIDs, Abbey Quarter and the Town Centre, end on March 31, 2024 and the Wednesday, November 1 launch at The Roost in Thames Tower has formally begun the consultation process to set out the five-year business plans for potential new BIDs, starting in Spring.

Since 2019, the BIDs have provided improvements and services to their areas including business wardens to help tackle shoplifting, Christmas lights and Summer floral displays, a town centre events programme, street cleaning, recycling collection schemes as well as staff wellbeing and training programmes.

In response to feedback so far, the two potential new BIDs from 2024 – 2029 include activity under six main headings:

  • Social & Healthy – from business networking to staff engagement initiatives and wellbeing activities
  • Enhancing & Exciting – Christmas lighting, multi-cultural celebrations, seasonal events and Summer floral installations
  • Safe & Secure – business wardens, CCTV, lighting and street furniture improvements
  • Environment & Sustainable – cardboard and recycling schemes, energy saving projects and trees for streets
  • Informed & Represented – business promotional space, job fairs, training courses, visitor economy and inward investment campaigns

Alexa Volker, Reading BID manager, said: “Over the last five years, Reading BID has invested around £5 million in making Reading town centre a better place in which to work, live, visit and do business.

“Feedback from our businesses show that we have been investing that money wisely and their priorities will shape the direction of travel for potential future BIDs starting in 2024. Town centre businesses tell us the huge difference Reading BID makes to the town centre, from enhanced security to better trained staff and we will be putting to them an exciting new proposition to continue this work early in 2024.”

Speaking at Wednesday’s event, Mayor of Reading, Cllr Tony Page, said: “Reading town centre today looks enormously different to when I first became a councillor. It’s gone from Sleepy Hollow, with last buses at 11pm, to a 24-hour diverse and vibrant city in all but name.

“For the past 16 years, the BID has reflected and represented the ever-changing make-up of our town centre businesses, from retail to hospitality, leisure and offices, ensuring that we support individual business success through a wide range of initiatives that make Reading a great place in which to work, do business, visit or live.

“The BID has been a vital part of the economic growth of our town centre and it is essential that it continues to be so, and Reading Borough Council looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the BID for many years to come.”

Business plans will be launched in the New Year and the two separate proposals will be voted on by the businesses in the relevant areas of the town centre, starting in late January.

Image shows (l-r): Andy Biggs, general manager of The Oracle, Cllr Tony Page, Mayor of Reading, Alexa Volker, Reading BID manager and Nigel Horton-Baker, chief executive of REDA.

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