Bosses at Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID) are calling for local businesses to vote 'Yes' to five more years of a strong voice for the town.
John O'Neill and Tom Powney are rallying business owners in Morecambe town centre to green-light an extension of the BID (Business Improvement District) until 2026.
Ballot papers have gone out to 343 shops, offices, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the BID zone.
Businesses will decide if they want the BID to continue and the result of the vote will be known by the end of July. A majority vote from voting businesses would secure the BID for another five years.
Mr O'Neill and Mr Powney say the BID's work is vital to Morecambe because it "bridges the gap" between the general public and organisations including local councils and the Eden Project, who are planning to bring a major new attraction to the town.
"We have given Morecambe a voice," said Mr O'Neill, BID manager.
"If there was no Morecambe BID, so many projects would be lost to the town.
"We are a private body, bridging the gap between the general public and the councils, and the Eden Project, bringing everybody together for the benefit of Morecambe."
Mr Powney, BID chairman and owner of Briggs Shoes, said the BID has been instrumental in reducing crime in the town centre and improving the look of the area.
"We brought in a radio link system between town centre shops and the police as an early-warning system to deter shoplifters, and we've lobbied for CCTV and improved the lighting levels in Queen Street and Pedder Street, leading to a safer night-time economy," he said.
"We've given out more than 100 business improvement grants and helped to support local businesses throughout the Covid pandemic, providing free perspex screens, stickers and advice.
"If businesses were to vote 'No', there would be no single voice lobbying on behalf of Morecambe businesses on key issues such as the Eden Project, no Christmas lights display in the BID zone, no protection for free bank holiday and Christmas parking, no more BID-supported events and no active social media promotion offering free publicity for businesses."
Since Morecambe BID was formed in 2016, the group has been responsible for many different projects including:
- Events including the Morecambe Sparkle Christmas Lights Switch on in 2019 featuring TV and radio personality Craig Charles, and An Evening with Eden - an audience with the Eden Project team at the Platform
- Improved lighting on Morecambe town centre streets
- The More-Cam webcam offering views of Morecambe through the BID website
- The Ask Angela safety campaign to help people who feel vulnerable in pubs and clubs
- Lighting up historical buildings including the Winter Gardens, the Midland Hotel and St Laurence's Church
- 39 attractive planters down the Promenade and Victoria Street
- Sponsoring town festivals including Morecambe Music Festival, the Catch the Wind kite festival, Morecambe Carnival and Vintage-by-the-sea
- Donations to various local charities and organisations
- New signage
- New benches
Morecambe BID is a private body led and funded by local businesses.
Each business within a specific zone in Morecambe town centre pays a levy of 1.5% (for businesses with a rateable value of over £3500).
Businesses then decide how to spend this money (around £130,000 per year) on improving the town.