Reading’s top town centre police officer has urged businesses and stakeholders to support the town’s business improvement districts (BID), after the success achieved by their work with police.
Insp James Tribe (pictured centre), who leads the Reading town centre team for Thames Valley Police, told scores of stakeholders at the January 10 launch of the BIDs’ new five-year business plans, due to run from March 31, his team has expanded by three full-time officers, due to the successful joint working with Reading’s town centre and Abbey Quarter BIDs.
The event, held at The Blade, called for businesses and stakeholders to support the new BIDs which will operate from 2024 – 2029. Voting starts later this month and Insp Tribe urged those present to vote ‘yes’ and spelt out his reasons for supporting them.
Insp Tribe said work by the BIDs had discovered massive under reporting of shoplifting and, by working with the BID team, arranged for around 60 retailers to meet with police to air their concerns. Since then, both reporting and the amount of policing has increased.
Insp Tribe said: “Because the offences are being reported now, because of the work the BID has done, I’ve now gone through my chief constable’s management team and you’ve now got nine full time PCs on the town centre team instead of six in Oct 22 (when he began in the role).
“That is purely down to the work that the BID has done in helping me make sure that I can deliver what the town centre economy needs.”
He said businesses impacted by a fire in Union Street last year were able to make contact with his team quickly thanks to the work with the BID.
He added: “I honestly believe we would be so far behind where we are today if it wasn’t for the relationship between the BID, TVP and the Community Safety Partnership, so when that (voting) paper comes across your desk, please vote for the BID.”
He said he gets enquiries from other police areas asking how Reading has been so successful.
The BIDs are aiming to increase their own involvement in security by bringing in a third BID warden to work across the two areas if they are given a new five-year term.
Safe & Secure is one of five themes the BIDs are proposing alongside Social & Healthy, Enhancing & Promoting, Environment & Sustainable, Informed & Represented in an effort to improve and support the areas with activities and services.
The BIDs, which are part of the town’s economic development agency REDA, operate by businesses within the BID areas paying a levy on their rates. That levy will be 1.4 per cent in the proposed new BIDs.
Adam Jacobs, chair of REDA and owner of Jacobs Jewellers, said: “Reading’s BIDs are the heartbeat of our business community. They have punched above their weight for the last five years, becoming an invaluable asset to our community and ensuring Reading town centre continues to flourish as a thriving, progressive place in which to work, live, do business as well as to visit.
“As a group of Reading businesses, we face a pivotal moment – a yes vote for the 2024-29 BIDs is a vote for continued prosperity, innovation and an investment of £7.5 million in our town centre and our businesses.”
Alexa Volker, Reading BIDs manager, said: “Town centre businesses tell us the huge difference Reading BID makes to the town centre, from enhanced security to better trained staff. These services form the cornerstone of the exciting new proposition we are putting to businesses later this month which would allow the BID to continue this work for another five years.”
Mayor of Reading Cllr Tony Page was at the event and spoke of his support for the BIDs and praised the lobbying work done by REDA. He also spoke of his hopes and fears of what could become of Reading Prison amid fresh rumours of an announcement of its sale.
A postal ballot of business ratepayers in the two BID areas will take place between January 25 and February 22 and papers can also be dropped off at the Civic Centre.
A majority of those who vote is required in each area for that particular BID to go ahead. If approved, the new BIDs will launch on April 1.
Image (top) shows (l-r) Andy Briggs, Oracle general manager, Adam Jacobs from Jacobs Jewellers, Insp Andy Tribe from Thames Valley Police, Alexa Volker, BIDs manager, and Andrew Whiteaker, partner at Boyes Turner.
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