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UPDATE: Ballot begins on Amazing CMK Business Improvement District plan

A ballot is taking place throughout February among city centre-based businesses on a proposal for a Business Improvement District partnership with the local authority. The postal ballot of all business ratepayers in the BID area began today (Wednesday) and if successful will bring forward projects identified by business during 18 months of consultation. 

The Amazing CMK BID will be funded through an agreed levy on businesses based in Central Milton Keynes which pay more than £50,000 a year in business rates.

The results of the ballot will be announced on March 1 and the BID will proceed if:

  • A majority of the votes are in favour;
  • Those voting in favour must represent a majority of rateable value of the rateable properties.

A BID is a business-led partnership that gives local business the power to decide what improvements they want to make in their city centre, how they will manage these and what it will cost them.

BIDs are funded through a levy calculated as a percentage of business rates, Most BIDs set a levy of between 1% and 2%. In Central Milton Keynes, it is proposed that each business would pay a levy of 1.25% of the rateable value of their premises.

The intention of a BID is to add projects and activities over and above those which are already taking place within the Central Milton Keynes area, defined as that bordered by the H6 Childs Way, H5 Portway, V8 Marlborough Street and the West Coast railway line.

City centre manager and BID chief executive Melanie Beck said: “The Amazing CMK BID Business Plan represents a set of key priorities to employees and businesses in Central Milton Keynes which emerged from a considerable number of forums, briefings and one to one meetings over the last 18 months.”

Those priorities focus on five key areas: safety; cleanliness; mobility; skills and events. The BID, if successful in the ballot, promises to deliver a series of projects including:

  • Improving the state of city centre underpasses and porte cocheres;
  • Investing in deep cleaning of the streets and landscape improvements;
  • Delivering a viable park and ride scheme and city centre shuttle service for city centre employees;
  • Enabling apprenticeships and work experience programmes relevant to the workforce;
  • Enhancing the image of Milton Keynes through the creation of annual events which create a legacy and engagement with business and community;
  • Investing in the day and night time economy to increase frequency of visit, dwell time and spend.

So far the BID has been warmly received by business and council leaders.

Paul Davis, senior partner at chartered accountants Keens Shay Keens, said: “The funds from the BID project over the next five years will significantly enable the improvement and maintenance of our surroundings, and allow for more enhancements to be made for the benefit of employees and visitors alike.”

Oliver Wren, manager of Debenhams at intu Milton Keynes, said: “The BID will add huge value in joining up the retail and leisure proposition across Central Milton Keynes. 

"I believe that the BID will help Central Milton Keynes remain a competitive choice as a regional shopping hub where consumers will be able to enjoy the vast choice that Milton Keynes has to offer.”

Votes must be received by 5pm on February 28. The result will be announced on March 1.

Melanie Beck said: “We hope businesses will take their chance to vote ‘Yes’ to this potential investment and secure the chance to make CMK Amazing for all on the city’s 50th birthday year.”

Milton Keynes Council leader Cllr Pete Marland said: “I support the BID because Central Milton Keynes is the heartbeat and showcase of our city. It is a great example of how partners can work together to make Central Milton Keynes an even more prosperous city.”

BIDs were first introduced in 2004 and there are now more than 200 successful ones across the UK, including in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

One of the first BIDs to be set up was in Bedford town centre.

For more information on the Amazing CMK BID visit www.amazingcmk.co.uk. The Business Plan can be downloaded at www.amazingcmk.co.uk/business-plan. You can also follow BID progress on Facebook (facebook.com/MKCityCentreManagement) and Twitter (twitter.com/MiltonKeynesCCM).