PENARTH businesses have teamed up to share ideas about how to attract more shoppers to the town after a series of meetings organised by the 'Penarth BID' project.

The group say £80-90,000 a year could be raised for profit-increasing projects if businesses in the town contribute to a special kind of partnership called a Business Improvement District or BID. Potential projects suggested have included: reviving the Penarth Jazz Festival, subsidising a bus service and beautifying the streets with flowers and benches.

The six meetings, held at various premises over Penarth through June, have seen business owners quiz BID adviser George Grace on how a Business Improvement might affect them. The response has been positive with more than 80 per cent of attendees indicating they liked the idea, and seven more businesses joining the Steering Group directing the project.

Car parking was by far the most common problem raised with businesses suggesting that a BID could lobby the Vale Council to use its planning powers to enable the redevelopment of a range of possible town centre sites. There were also suggestions that under used areas like school playgrounds could be made available at peak times, and a professional review of double yellow lines and other parking restrictions could be commissioned to uncover additional on street spaces.

A Business Improvement District is funded by a levy which acts like a service charge in a mall, with funds pooled for additional business-boosting initiatives. The size of the levy is likely to be set at 2 per cent of a unit’s rateable value, so big businesses pay more and small businesses less. It’s estimated the average Penarth business would pay around £5 a week.

Other suggestions for how to increase footfall in the town include a revival of the P1 bus service for shoppers and tourists and better pedestrian signs to direct people between the Marina, town centre, and Esplanade. Businesses also mentioned how few people knew about out-of-centre shopping areas such as Upper Glebe Street and Cornerswell Road.

Businesses are still able to put ideas forward, and find out more about what the BID might mean for them by visiting the website or getting in touch with BID Manager Robert Callaghan on 029 2071 3842.

The positive response means Penarth BID are likely to move to the next stage with the drafting of a business plan for how the levy income would be spent. This plan would then be the subject of a ballot, with the BID and the projects only going ahead more than 50 per cent of businesses vote in favour.