Walton-on-Thames Business Improvement District has officially launched this Spring, bringing up to £1million in investment to the town centre over the next five years.
Following over 18 months of planning and consultation, businesses voted in favour of establishing a BID in March 2020, just days before the first national lockdown. Given the circumstances around the Coronavirus pandemic and its effect on many businesses, the BID Task Group agreed to postpone the launch until 1 March 2021 – the maximum 12 months allowed for a BID to launch by the national legislation.
Walton BID Chairman, Peter Beggan, Assistant Director for New Business at Paragon Asra (PA) Housing said: “With the BID company now operational and the national roadmap in place to reopen all businesses safely, this represents an exciting time for the town of Walton-on-Thames.
Our Task Group rightly took the decision to delay the BID launch as our high streets went into lockdown so as not to add more financial strain on what was an already difficult time for businesses. We are now looking forward to delivering the ambitions set out in the proposals with the aim of making Walton-on-Thames a great place to shop, live, work and do business.”
The BID’s Business Plan has been designed to begin addressing the issues which came up during the lengthy consultations with many of the businesses in the BID area and include:
- Delivery of marketing, events and promotional activity to help raise the profile of the town and all it has to offer.
- Improving people’s experience and perceptions of Walton by helping deliver a safe and welcoming town centre.
- Ensuring the town is easy to navigate, addressing issues of accessibility, parking and sustainability.
- Uniting businesses to work collectively for mutual success, reduce costs, and act as a representative voice of the Walton business community.
Plans have already been set in motion as the town looks to get a colourful makeover in the coming weeks with the addition of some flags and bunting, helping to brighten the town centre and improve its welcoming appeal.
Kelly Bliss, Walton BID Manager said: “I’m really excited to be working in Walton, it’s a beautiful town with a fantastic community feel. The installation of the flags has been co-funded by the Walton-on-Thames Trading Alliance who were the driving force behind the set-up of the BID itself. This is a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration and co-investment. I’m looking forward to working with them and building on the great foundations they’ve set. We’ve got lots in store for the next few months including a brand new website for the town plus a host of family-led activities for the summer.”
Joanna Gordon, Managing Director of the Walton-on-Thames Trading Alliance said: “Soon after setting up the Walton-on-Thames Trading Alliance in 2016 we realised that the way forward for a sustainable, active town centre was to establish a BID. Despite the lengthy process to get to this point, we’re delighted to welcome Kelly as the BID town centre manager. Building on her experience working with Kingston BID we’re confident she will deliver a professional and dynamic way forward out of the pandemic and into a bright future for Walton.”
Robert Moran, Chief Executive, Elmbridge Borough Council said: “We’re delighted to have supported the launch of Walton BID which is the first Business Improvement District for Elmbridge. BIDs have made a positive impact across the country and as part of the Council’s commitment to supporting our high streets, we were happy to fund the development of the BID for Walton. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Walton BID and working together to deliver a more vibrant town centre.”