Backing the BID & Bollards

                                                    (Pic: Wales Online)

It’s time for another round up of some of the key issues to be discussed by Bridgend Council’s (BCBC) cabinet and full council this week.

BCBC to back Bridgend Business Improvement District (pdf)

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (Bridgend run by hot air & more), BCBC are in the process of establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) to cover most of Bridgend town centre.

All businesses in the proposed area with a ratable value of over £6,000 will get a vote on whether the BID goes ahead or not. As BCBC own five ratable properties in the proposed area, they have five votes. If the BID goes ahead, businesses within the area will pay a levy on their business rates bill to go into a central pot to fund certain improvements.

Some new bits of information have been revealed in an appendix to the report (pdf):

  • The project would have a budget of just under £472,000 over three years.
  • Around half of that will be spent on marketing (including free town centre Wi-Fi and a new website to promote the town) and improving access (including relaxation of pedestrianisation and parking-related incentives).
  • Businesses with ratable values of £6,000 will contribute £75 a year. Businesses with ratable values of £10,000+ would contribute £125 a year. This levy would be mandatory to all businesses in the BID area if there’s a yes vote, though businesses under the ratable value threshold can make voluntary payments. The levy would be collected annually.
  • The BID company – named CF31 – will be run as a private not-for-profit and would have a board of directors representing town centre businesses.
  • The ballot papers will be distributed to eligible businesses on July 7th. Votes will need to be submitted by August 4th. The results will be announced on Friday August 5th.
  • If there’s a yes vote, CF31 will begin work from 1st October 2016. If there’s a no vote, the BID will be cancelled.

As mentioned, BCBC has five votes. In the event of a yes vote, BCBC would have to contribute a levy of just under £12,900.

Officers argue that as the BID is “an important tool in stimulating economic development of the town centre” they’ve recommended cabinet members agree to BCBC voting yes in the ballot. It would be pretty embarrassing if they didn’t.

Bridgend De-pedestrianisation : BCBC favours bollards (pdf)

This is another update to another recent post (Bridgend Pedestrianisation Report Released). As said then, BCBC’s cabinet are to discuss this tomorrow (June 7th).

As you might remember, Capita put forward four possible options :

  • Option 1 : Signing & Road Marking Changes – Signing and road markings would be changed to mark de-pedestrianisation. It’s estimated to cost £247,000 and would take 3 months to complete.
  • Option 2 : Tactile paving between the kerb and road – This would include the crossing options and markings as Option 1, but would also include tactile paving (like those at the edge of a railway platform) to mark the edge of the kerb. It would cost £350,000 and take 4 months to complete.
  • Option 3 : Bollards and street furniture to separate kerb from road– Again this would include puffin crossings and the road markings from Option 1. Instead of tactile paving, bollards or street furniture (i.e. railings) would be provided along the length of the kerb. It would cost £552,000 and take 3 months to complete.
  • Option 4 : Raising the kerb to normal road standards (60mm) – The kerb would be raised (or the roadway lowered) to provide a clear distinction between the road and the pavement. It would be the most disruptive option, costing £855,000 and taking 12 months to complete.

Officers acknowledge the report’s concerns and statistics relating to accidents pre and post-pedestrianisation and accept that de-pedestrianisation is a risk to road safety. However, they add that as shopping habits have changed and footfall reduced, the situation is unlikely to be as bad as it was before 2004.

One thing officers disagreed with Capita on is the option of reducing pedestrianised hours to 11am-3pm as that would create uncertainty in pedestrians’ and drivers’ minds and could lead to more accidents.

Officers favour Option 3 as it’s, “the most balanced scheme in terms of road safety, implementation cost and impact on highway infrastructure”.

Cabinet members are warned – in black and white – that there’s no money to do this and it have to be found from other sources. Part of the BID levy could be used, but as it’s only going to be £472,000 over three years, it wouldn’t cover the whole costs of de-pedestrianisation. It’s recommended BCBC make a bid for money in the next round of Welsh Government regeneration funding.

If the cabinet agrees, the proposals will be put out to public consultation soon.