28 October 2021
The city’s Business Improvement District (BID) GO! Southampton has revealed its plans for the future as it goes to ballot. And, say supporters, it is vital the city centre’s businesses retain a voice at the table as Southampton looks to a strong future.
During the pandemic, GO! Southampton provided vital support to businesses as they endured long closures, including the Southampton Inside Out initiative – introduced to help hospitality businesses secure access to outdoor licenses to deal with restrictions and pedestrianising Carlton Place and Bedford Place. GO! Southampton has also supported businesses by introducing projects such as the SO card to encourage residents back into the city post-lockdown and marketing campaigns like #SotonFromYourSOfa which supported the cultural sector by giving them a platform to promote online events, workshops and more whilst the venues were temporarily closed.
The BID has also saved its members £36,500 through a new recycling scheme, helped to secure with partners £72.4m for Southampton through various funding applications, seen 100 businesses benefit from mental health training during the pandemic, and played a critical role in securing the airport runway extension.
Now GO! Southampton is seeking to continue that important work with a raft of initiatives already on the table, which include:
- Support for the major development of the Mayflower Quarter
- Ensuring businesses continue to be represented at all levels at local council meetings
- Connect businesses and local agencies to help boost employment opportunities for young people
- Commission a retail and leisure gap analysis
- More work to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
- Further development of the Visit Southampton platforms.
- Increased cleaning during the day and night.
- Increased inclusion and diversity throughout the city.
- Continued action on business representation and action on key issues.
Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said: “We have achieved a lot during our first term and both businesses and visitors to Southampton have reported considerable improvements. In fact, our reports show 90% of businesses said GO! Southampton had made a positive or very positive contribution to the city. Plus, 89% said they felt they had a voice in key city decisions through the BID and 99% said they felt the BID would support them – which for us is a great result.
“But we cannot continue to do all this great work without the new mandate from our businesses. We’re a rolling stone gathering moss and to stop now would mean putting the brakes on a number of important projects right now, which would be detrimental to the city.”
Many local businesses have already voiced their support for the renewal of GO! Southampton.
Sij Islam, owner of Buddha Lounge, Tokyo, Fever and Vibe and Funky Flamingo said: “The BID has been a champion of the night-time economy and has secured significant savings through the removal of the Late-Night Levy.”
Kevin West, Managing Director of Colour Company commented: “Thanks to GO! Southampton, services like the Hearing Loop scheme and the Waste Recycling Scheme have helped to improve our customer experience and our bottom line. GO! Southampton cares about my business and there is always a friendly face to speak to when we need support.”
Julie Bentley, Front of House Manager at Haringtons Hairdressing Southampton said; “As a small business we have started to see real results with the BID, particularly through the cost savings services. We are excited to explore opportunities with GO! Southampton to repurpose our underutilised space.”
During its first term, GO! Southampton has introduced new measures to help combat crime in the city centre and as a result has seen a reduction of theft by more than 60%. Plus, they have worked hard to tackle homelessness and aggressive begging by working with partner organisations to encourage visitors in the city centre to change the way they give to local charities through contactless donation points.
Property agent and BID member Hector Brown whose vacant property had a break-in during lockdown and therefore was vulnerable to other crimes, had immediate support from the GO! Southampton team to prevent further issues. He said: “Thank you to the GO! Southampton team for the positive and efficient help that we were given from our first contact with the Southampton reception through to the input from the field patrol regarding the damage and the eventual repairs. This made my job considerably easier and definitely less stressful.”
Businesses in the city centre have been asked to vote on whether the Business Improvement District (BID) should be extended for a further five years. Voting has opened and the ballot closes on November 11. Peter Taylor, President of Hampshire Chamber added his voice to the campaign, urging businesses to support an extension of the Southampton BID.
“When we see what has been achieved over the last five years – cleaner safer streets and reduced waste and crime to name just a few benefits – it is easy to see how being part of the BID has improved life for city centre businesses. We mustn’t see all that hard work and those gains thrown away.”
The BID came into being on 1 April 2017 and are currently going through their renewal ballot phase. To continue its term, GO! Southampton must be re-elected and if successful, will remain for the next five years. City centre businesses have until 11 November to return the voting papers. More information and how to vote can be found at www.gosouthampton.co.uk/ballot2021