A free child’s train ride is operating along the Broadway in Bexleyheath to entice shoppers over Christmas.
With High Streets facing stiff opposition from online shopping even before current issues, this idea is to help make shopping more of an “event” and pull in extra footfall.
The scheme is funded by the Bexleyheath Business Improvement District. That’s a scheme where private business vote to pay a small levy to improve town centres and put on events to entice shoppers.
Over the borough in Greenwich, the authority have never shown much interest in similar creation of a BID which could lighten the load on taxpayers.
Last week Woolwich had a lighting event – which was great – but while taxpayers money in the cash-strapped borough is paying for that, BIDs can allow private business to help fund events.
Bexleyheath business voted for a five year extension in July 2021, which will see £1.23 million spent on:
- Additional street cleaning
- An annual deep cleaning programme
- A dedicated town centre police officer
- A town centre business radio scheme
- Christmas lights and Christmas Trees
- Christmas Switch-On event
Meanwhile in Greenwich, the authority has never discussed helping business to create such a scheme at any meeting I’ve been following for years.
One possible reason is that having a BID often places pressure on an authority to maintain certain standards.
Greenwich are not exactly great at doing so. Witness poorly maintained buildings and public realm in many areas – often shortly after millions have been spent.
A BID would not only help foot the costs for events but also improve an area and improve attractiveness. Would they be happy, for example, with area like this in the middle of town centres?
It’s just one of a few vacant DLR plots still empty after 12 years:
Murals and artwork could adorn these areas which are currently blights on the town centre. As it is there’re eyesores and neither the authority nor TfL are much interested in doing anything about them – which typifies the town’s management for so long.