Westcliff BID plan

Westcliff’s “Bond Street” is set for a huge boost as businesses and residents join forces in a scheme to improve the area – but firms will have to stump up the cash.

The Westcliff Partnership is hoping to set up a Business Improvement District (BID) in and around Hamlet Court Road, known as the city’s second High Street.

BID schemes allow businesses to pay into a fund for improvement projects.

The partnership was set up by residents two years ago and has already worked on a number of projects, the latest being a campaign to bring back into use the old Blockbuster store on the corner with London Road.

Resident Gaynor Solly, who founded the partnership, said: “Currently Westcliff Partnership is run by volunteers using their own money.

“We are aiming to raise £2,000 plus to upgrade to a membership website and put into practice more ideas to help Westcliff thrive, such as a Westcliff BID.

“The most important thing is to get businesses talking to each other about how they want to improve not only their own businesses but the Westcliff environment. Businesses that aren’t making a lot of money don’t have to pay very much at all.”

Hamlet Court Road has about 140 businesses, and 20 have shown an interest so far.

A BID has run successfully in Southend since 2013, with a number of large events and initiatives introduced.

Ms Gaynor added: “If we don’t get enough businesses joining in then we can’t go ahead but I think just having the talks will be useful. If we do go ahead we will continue what we’ve been doing, asking businesses what they are and aren’t happy with. One suggestion has been to have a banking hub, which has been very successful in Rochford.

“The project would be for the whole community because if you just include businesses they don’t always have the time to get too involved in everything and as a community group we can attract funding.”

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for corporate services and performance delivery, said: “Hamlet Court Road is very special and has been called the Bond Street of Southend.

“A Westcliff BID would be a big advantage. It allows people to talk to people who might want to invest and brings the area to the attention of people.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter