Will Southend businesses pay extra tax to improve the town?

First published in Features by

TOWN centre businesses in Southend will go to the polls to decide whether they want to bump up their taxes to pay for improvements.

Council bosses cleared the way for the creation of a business improvement district in the High Street, seafront and nearby roads.

If more than half the businesses included in the proposed district vote for the move, a levy worth £500,000 a year will be brought in to bankroll a series of projects.

Among the project ideas are more marketing, more trees and flowerbeds, and a cohort of “town centre ambassadors” with limited police powers.

More Christmas lights displays in roads off the High Street, a loyalty card scheme and a part-time night manager to work with nightclub and pub owners are also being mooted.

The idea is the brainchild of Southend Town Centre Partner-ship, an action group funded by traders.

Chairman Dawn Jeakings said: “I cannot stress enough how important it is all the businesses involved take the time to find out more about the district and cast their vote.

“This is an exciting opportunity to have direct input into the future of our town and do something to really make a difference.

“Despite the ongoing financial recovery, Southend becoming a business improvement district could mean the difference between success and failure for many businesses.”

Ms Jeakings stressed all decisions would be in the hands of the businesses, if they voted to set up the district.

The idea was rubber-stamped by Southend Council’s Tory leadership at its cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

If the plan is approved by the businesses, an extra 1.5 per cent levy would be placed on each firm’s annual business rates until 2016.

The tax would be applied regardless of how each business voted, although only those included in the area covered by the district would have to pay.

A not-for-profit company would be set up to spend the money, estimated to total about £2.5million over the five years, alongside the council.

The idea already has the backing of several prominent figures, including entrepreneur Philip Miller, whose businesses include Adventure Island and SeaLife Adventure.

Leigh Norris, Essex Police’s Southend central inspector, said: “Business improvement districts in other areas have successfully assisted the police to reduce criminal damage and antisocial behaviour, with the introduction of street wardens and crime initiative schemes.

“This can only improve the negative perceptions and promote the town centre as a safe place to visit.”

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:07am Fri 16 Sep 11

DCLEIGH says...

so, the choice is ...
No policing/ security or else
your shop closes through bankruptcy.
Unless your Debenhams, M&S, BHS, etc.

Either you go to Hell in a wheelbarrow or your wheelbarrow shop gets boarded up.
so, the choice is ... No policing/ security or else your shop closes through bankruptcy. Unless your Debenhams, M&S, BHS, etc. Either you go to Hell in a wheelbarrow or your wheelbarrow shop gets boarded up. DCLEIGH
  • Score: 0

9:18am Fri 16 Sep 11

perini says...

Among the project ideas are more marketing, more trees and flowerbeds, and a cohort of “town centre ambassadors” with limited police powers.
This won't make any difference at all - try reducing parking charges, make more parking space available and get rid of the ridiculous patio from hell etc so people can easily access the town and it doesn't cost them an arm and a leg to do so. As has been said many times on here by a lot of people - they would rather drive to Basildon/Chelmsford/
Lakeside than pay the exorbitant parking rates in Southend.
Among the project ideas are more marketing, more trees and flowerbeds, and a cohort of “town centre ambassadors” with limited police powers. This won't make any difference at all - try reducing parking charges, make more parking space available and get rid of the ridiculous patio from hell etc so people can easily access the town and it doesn't cost them an arm and a leg to do so. As has been said many times on here by a lot of people - they would rather drive to Basildon/Chelmsford/ Lakeside than pay the exorbitant parking rates in Southend. perini
  • Score: 0

10:18am Fri 16 Sep 11

maddriver says...

Well said perini - although it is a great asset to have a pleasant environment the public won't pay through the nose for it.
I personally tend to avoid Southend shopping simply because of the difficulty parking and many of my friends have the same attitude.
Southend Council needs to wake up to the fact that those of us who drive will go where we are more welcome and I fear that those traders who accept this levy will be paying for nothing.
Well said perini - although it is a great asset to have a pleasant environment the public won't pay through the nose for it. I personally tend to avoid Southend shopping simply because of the difficulty parking and many of my friends have the same attitude. Southend Council needs to wake up to the fact that those of us who drive will go where we are more welcome and I fear that those traders who accept this levy will be paying for nothing. maddriver
  • Score: 0

12:30pm Fri 16 Sep 11

perini says...

Wasn't it the council that removed all traces of green in the High Street anyway - why should the traders pay to reinstate it?
Wasn't it the council that removed all traces of green in the High Street anyway - why should the traders pay to reinstate it? perini
  • Score: 0

1:53pm Fri 16 Sep 11

sandybeach says...

Car parking in Chelmsford car parks is MORE expensive than in Southend. Those that go to other towns or Bluewater etc should consider cost of petrol/diesel etc.
So long as the levy is used for extra things and not instead of what the council should do I think it might work.
Car parking in Chelmsford car parks is MORE expensive than in Southend. Those that go to other towns or Bluewater etc should consider cost of petrol/diesel etc. So long as the levy is used for extra things and not instead of what the council should do I think it might work. sandybeach
  • Score: 0

4:19pm Fri 16 Sep 11

termite1944 says...

the shops in Southend are all chain stores with no originality so why shop in Southend and pay the high parking fees when places like Basildon and Thurrock have so much more to offer?

Parking at Lakeside if free, they have a beautiful lake, a vast vairety of shops, pleanty of places to eat / drink and is nice just for a day out.

Southend has chain stores that serve dried up food at high prices, no real choice, no originality, parking attendants who stand withpen ready foo anyone a few seconds late back, and roads that are forever clogged up with road works and the land slipping into the sea.

If petrol was £10 a gallon, I would still shop out of town, besides most shops in Southend are closed down anyway ... but for the endless supp;y of chain stores!

We need smaller privately owned shops that can bring choice to Southend, and fro that reason, special low rates should be introuduced to encourage the small investor.

I remember southend when it had arcades with a fantastic variety of little shops ... sadly everyone knows what M&S / debennhams sell so why go in them ...w we need variety that is only available in Southend to make folk want to come here.
the shops in Southend are all chain stores with no originality so why shop in Southend and pay the high parking fees when places like Basildon and Thurrock have so much more to offer? Parking at Lakeside if free, they have a beautiful lake, a vast vairety of shops, pleanty of places to eat / drink and is nice just for a day out. Southend has chain stores that serve dried up food at high prices, no real choice, no originality, parking attendants who stand withpen ready foo anyone a few seconds late back, and roads that are forever clogged up with road works and the land slipping into the sea. If petrol was £10 a gallon, I would still shop out of town, besides most shops in Southend are closed down anyway ... but for the endless supp;y of chain stores! We need smaller privately owned shops that can bring choice to Southend, and fro that reason, special low rates should be introuduced to encourage the small investor. I remember southend when it had arcades with a fantastic variety of little shops ... sadly everyone knows what M&S / debennhams sell so why go in them ...w we need variety that is only available in Southend to make folk want to come here. termite1944
  • Score: 0

9:40am Sun 18 Sep 11

live in westcliff says...

The parking fees in Southend are ridiculous. I recently went to Upper Street, Islington and just near Kensington Church Street and I could park for free on a Sunday afternoon. Yet Southend with rubbish shopping facilities it costs an arm and a leg to park just for a few hours.

Regarding trees and flowerbeds - yes that would be nice at the moment it is the ugliest most boring concrete High Street a few trees would break up the monotiny of getting from one end to the other and might even make it more attractive!!

I remember on the original town plan when redesigning the High Street ten years ago was to create a tree lined Boulevard effect like Las Ramblas in Barcelona - what happened to that then? as far as I know there isn't one tree.

If the shops were willing to put in extra money via tax that would be great but do feel it is a little unfair to the shops to have to do this - as Perini said it did have trees and flowerbeds but they were all removed.
The parking fees in Southend are ridiculous. I recently went to Upper Street, Islington and just near Kensington Church Street and I could park for free on a Sunday afternoon. Yet Southend with rubbish shopping facilities it costs an arm and a leg to park just for a few hours. Regarding trees and flowerbeds - yes that would be nice at the moment it is the ugliest most boring concrete High Street a few trees would break up the monotiny of getting from one end to the other and might even make it more attractive!! I remember on the original town plan when redesigning the High Street ten years ago was to create a tree lined Boulevard effect like Las Ramblas in Barcelona - what happened to that then? as far as I know there isn't one tree. If the shops were willing to put in extra money via tax that would be great but do feel it is a little unfair to the shops to have to do this - as Perini said it did have trees and flowerbeds but they were all removed. live in westcliff
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree