BUSINESSES in Bognor Regis are to be asked to pay more to fund improvements to the town centre.
The companies could have £500,000 to spend on projects of their choice.
The firms will be polled to see if they want a business improvement district to be set around the central area.
Town-centre manager Toyubur Rahman is promoting the idea as one of the major parts of his four-pronged programme of improvements.
He said he hoped the improvement district would be in place by the end of next summer.
“Businesses will be asked if they want to pay an extra one per cent of their business rates to set up the improvement district,” he said.
“It’s an important thing because it will give businesses a greater voice in what goes on in the future development of their town centre.
“It would be their money being spent in the district and their business plan it would be spent on.”
Toyubur said BIDs were commonplace. They existed in Chichester, Worthing, Brighton and Eastleigh among the 150 areas they covered in England and Wales.
The Bognor town centre district would stretch from Butlin’s to the pier and up to the station.
Within that zone, the commercial premises have an estimated annual rateable value of £10m. The levy on top of that would provide £100,000 a year for five years.
“I’ve spoken to ten of the businesses in the district and they would be happy to put in the extra one per cent,” he said.
“As well as improving the town centre, it is also an equitable scheme in that everyone pays the same percentage.
“It’s not like some of the events where it’s the same people who contribute all the time.”
To be set up, a BID must be approved by 50 per cent of the businesses it will cover. That ‘Yes’ vote must also be given by premises with at least 50 per cent of the total rateable value.
The commitment towards a BID is one of the programmes which Toyubur, 37, has drawn up in his first 100 days in his role.
He arrived at the Core business hub in Belmont Street in mid-May, backed with four years of support by a board which includes the University of Chichester, the town and district councils and Butlin’s.
That unique partnership ensures he is not subject to annual budgetary pressures.
Toyubur is putting into effect the techniques he has passed on to about 100 other towns in ten years as an adviser with the national association of town centres after gaining experience in various locations.
That background tells him his role will see him attract criticism as well as praise.
“I know I will not please all the people,” he said.
“If I can please 70-80 per cent of businesses, I will be happy with that.
“I want to get most of the people on my side. That will be the best I can aim for.”