Has the Mansfield BID delivered?

White Hart Street Shop owners Hewa Abdulla and June Stendall pictured on the street
White Hart Street Shop owners Hewa Abdulla and June Stendall pictured on the street

CALLS have been made for the Mansfield BID to demonstrate it is giving town centre traders value for money.

The BID (Business Improvement District) was established in 2009 and an estimated £1m has been paid by firms and traders through a levy on their business rates.

The scheme, which is up for renewal in 2014, pledged to improve the trading environment, in particular the Market Place, improve parking and access, beef up security, promote the town and pull in new investment.

But some businesses are unsure what all their money has been spent on.

Steve Yemm, chairman of Mansfield Constituency Labour Party, who raised the concerns, has called for the group to give evidence of what has been delivered so far.

He said: “It is of utmost importance that the Mansfield BID delivers not only on their 2009 prospectus, but is also seen to deliver real concrete return for town centre businesses and an improved town centre environment for citizens.

“Personally, I am struggling to recognise where they have spent almost £1m of Mansfield businesses’ money and what improvements they have made.”

June Stendall, of Finesse Bridal Studio on White Hart Street, thinks the BID has failed to improve the town centre.

She said: “I don’t think anything from their business plan can be ticked. It has brought me no additional business whatsoever.”

Wendy Demir, of China Basket on Church Street, says some independent businesses feel short changed.

“It has been a total waste of everyone’s time and money,” she said. “It was built on false pretences and I haven’t seen any improvement.”

Melivn Flint, of Stamp King Jewellers said: “It seems more shops have closed rather than opened. Nobody seems to know what has happened to the money.”

But Rachel French, of 10 Green Bottles Coffee Lounge in Market Place, thinks the BID needs to be given more time.

She said: “I think it is working and has improved the town centre. We’ve got more security now and people to market the town. It is still relatively new and should be given more time.”

Louise Ashley, of The Shabby Hut in Regent Street, is impressed with the BID. She said: “Our experience has been really positive. The radio system helps keep on top of undesirables outside the shop. The ‘I Love Mansfield’ Facebook page is great. I’ve been on one of their retail training courses. We can’t fault them at all.”

A spokesman said BID manager Sarah Nelson can provide Chad with details of the scheme’s success when she returns from annual leave.

She added how Mr Yemm and any town centre business can contact them for information in the meantime.