Kingston push for BID status to lure visitors

Public-private partnership Kingston First (KF) has launched a PR campaign to win support for a scheme under which businesses would pay additional tax to fund initiatives to woo visitors.

The campaign, which is being handled by retained agency Upward Curve, is to promote a proposed Business Improvement District (BID) – an area in which all business rate-payers would pay an additional one per cent tax to fund more frequent street cleaning, better marketing and schemes to counter traffic congestion.

The BID has been proposed to counter the problem of falling visitor numbers in Kingston-upon-Thames.

More than one million daytime visitors have been lost since 1998 and surveys of residents, town-centre users and businesses have shown that issues such as graffiti, litter, a fear of crime, problems with transport and access – and a lack of promotion – are deterring visitors, according to KF.

The PR campaign features media relations, door-to-door visits to the 630 businesses in the proposed area, merchandising and sending a copy of the business plan to firms.

The BID could generate £4m over five years, according to Upward Curve MD Helen Ashley.

A ballot on the scheme opened to businesses last week and runs until 15 November. It will convert to BID status in January if the vote is won. The results will be unveiled on 16 November with the BID launching in January – if it gets the thumbs-up. A vote to launch a separate BID in London’s West End takes place in February.

KF is backed by the council and Kingston Town Centre Management.

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