SOUTHEND Council may soon ask traders to pay extra for better street cleaning or lighting, and to support events such as the airshow.

The council is talking to businesses about setting a Business Improvement District scheme.

The scheme would help companies and Civic Centre officials to work more closely on special projects and improving services.

Businesses in a chosen area would be asked more in business rates to fund a five-year programme, aimed at boosting trade.

The scheme’s board might also contribute to new projects and events such as the airshow.

Roger Fisher, a member of the Southend Seafront Illuminations and Business Association, is backing the move. He said: “Generally, it would be a good thing. It would give businesses a bit more freedom and make it easier to obtain things.

“The district would be run by a board with a certain amount of independence over spending and a degree of autonomy. The council would collect the levy alongside non-domestic rates.

“It might pay for improved cleaning, additional security or even to hire street advisors to help shoppers and visitors.

Mr Fisher stressed the scheme’s money would not go into the council’s general coffers, or help pay for major attractions. He added: “It wouldn’t have a major budget. It couldn’t be used as substitute funding. It would have to enhance existing or new projects.

“It wouldn’t provide funding for something like the airshow as such, but it might provide things on the periphery to improve the airshow.”

The project will be discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting on November 2.

Ian Robertson, councillor responsible for enterprise, said: “It is in the very early stages, but it is very exciting for the town. We need feedback from businesses before we can say much about it.”