Monday, 16 March 2015

BID Ballot Update

If you are a business within the proposed Penzance BID and have already voted in the BID ballot then thank you.

If you have not yet voted then a further 7 days remains assuming a last posting day of Tue 24 Mar (ballot closes on Thu 26th Mar at 5.00 pm).

A couple of issues have arisen during the ballot and are addressed below:

Importance of Votes from both Big and Small Businesses.

A representative of the media gave the impression to more than one business that the votes of small businesses were less important than those of large businesses. This could not be more WRONG. Every vote is equally important because the ballot has to pass two tests to be successful:

- Test 1. More than 50% of votes cast must be in favour of the BID. A large majority of voters have smaller premises and therefore a majority of these businesses must vote in favour for the BID to succeed.
- Test 2. The rateable value of those voting in favour must exceed the rateable value of those voting against. This test ensures that the majority of businesses (smaller businesses) do not impose the BID against the wishes of those businesses paying in the majority of the levy.
For the BID to succeed it must appeal to both the smaller and larger businesses. Smaller businesses can easily vote down the BID (but so can the larger businesses).

Cornwall Council Parking Charge Increases.

Everybody in the business community has been was shocked and infuriated by Cornwall Council’s announcement of a hike in parking charges. There was no consultation over the final charges imposed despite a preliminary meetings between Penzance representatives (business and political) and Bert Biscoe (Cabinet Member for Transport & Waste) before Christmas. The final parking order signed off on 24 Feb was only released to the business community by The Cornishman on 3 Mar.

The BID business plan is realistic in its parking proposals and does not presume any concessions or enlightened thinking from Cornwall Council. Under ‘Parking & Access Improvements’ we identified ‘Working with the Public Sector to create a pay on exist charging systems for the Harbour Car Park’ as our first priority. This proposal is still very much on the table because, in addition to helping the businesses community, it offers an increase in revenue with visitors expected to stay longer on average if not forced to return to the car park due to ticket expiry under the current ‘pay on entry’ scheme.

The recent announcement on charges will not be the last on the matter because Cornwall Council’s across the board increases are likely to fail to meet revenue goals for Penzance car parks and force a re-visiting of the issue. We can say this with some confidence because revenue from the Harbour Car Park (second largest ‘earner’ in Cornwall) has fallen every year since 2010/11 as the charges have risen (it is now over £100,000/yr less).

Successful BIDs in Cornwall are not receiving significant parking concessions from Cornwall Council and our business plan does not assume them. This does not make the recent increases in charges any more acceptable but we suggest it does not make the issue a material consideration in the decision whether or not to support the creation of a Penzance BID. The issue is whether a Penzance BID can deliver worthwhile improvements in Penzance’s trading environment.

The BID is about the businesses community making its own trading ‘weather ‘ and having more control and influence over its future. Nobody else is going to do it for us. This opportunity is unique and there will be no easy way to repeat if the result on 27 March is ‘no’. Many businesses acknowledge this situation and are supporting the BID but there is no room for complacency. Your vote is important.

Dick Cliffe

Penzance BID Steering Group Member

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