By Daniel Hunter

With the approval of proposals to create two Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in the town, Bournemouth has claimed its place in the history book on the development of BIDs in Britain, on two counts.

Bournemouth is the first town to develop two BIDs simultaneously, and to get both voted through at the same time. For the last 18 months local business leaders have been pursuing the development of a Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and Coastal Districts BID. Both of these were approved at a formal declaration held recently in the Bournemouth International Centre.

The Coastal Districts BID has the largest continuous geographical area of any BID in the UK, running for seven miles from Westbourne through the West Cliff, East Cliff and Boscombe to Southbourne and Hengistbury Head.

"We're delighted that after all the input we've had during the development phase from hundreds of local businesses, the BIDs have been voted through by the very firms that will be core-funding them over the next five years," Des Simmons, Chairman of the Coastal Districts BID Steering Group and MD of locally based Bournecoast said.

"The Coastal Districts BID has brought together a wide cross-section of businesses within the trading districts along Bournemouth's fabulous seven mile coastline"

Over the next five years, the two BIDs will be investing £7million in the local economy. Core funding comes from the 585 eligible businesses in the Town Centre BID and 780 eligible businesses in the Coastal District BID. On top of these levy contributions, the Steering Groups anticipate they will be able to lever an additional 30% through voluntary contributions, sponsorship and matched funding for specific projects. Six local firms had already agreed to make voluntary contributions to the new BIDs, even before this formal approval was announced.

The BIDs will be run by not-for-profit, companies limited by guarantee. The current private sector led Steering Groups — all volunteers who receive no payment - will provide continuity and a quick start up by forming the new Board. At the first AGM these Board members will stand down, opening the way for the creation of fully-elected members from amongst the BID businesses.

The Town Centre BID will concentrate on attracting more day visitors, with new promotional campaigns and events, a team of rangers to make the town more welcoming, as well as introducing better signage and wayfinding.

The Coastal Districts BID places the emphasis on bringing people to stay in the town for longer and encouraging them to visit more of the coastal strip, particularly outside the main summer season. Marketing, events and promoting the three trading districts are the key aspects of its business plan.

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