RTW Together BID rallies members as its ballot deadline approaches

Picture of The Pantiles

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Together Business Improvement District (RTW BID) is entering its final week of canvassing local businesses and traders ahead of them either voting for or against another five-year term.

The deadline for casting votes is Thursday February 29 and votes will be counted the following day on March 1.

Businesses that form part of the BID contribute an annual levy based on the rateable value of their premises. Since 2019, £2.1million of funds have been raised. RTW Together in turn manages these funds, to carry out improvements, marketing and events to bolster trading conditions within the town centre.

The BID is a defined area of the town centre, running from the large Sainsbury’s in the south of Tunbridge Wells, up to the roundabout where Grosvenor Road meets St John’s Road.

As previously reported in the Times, the BID renewal ballot began earlier this month but with the voting deadline now approaching, current members only have one more week to decide whether or not to go ahead with a second five-year term.

BID Chief Executive Alex Green exclusively told the Times: “We are a large BID with over 640 members, made up of a diverse range of businesses – retailers, hospitality, professional services and trades, so it is really important to find out what is important to each of them.”

Ahead of the Business Improvement District (BID) voting deadline next Thursday, February 29, the Times talked exclusively to the organisation’s Chief Executive Alex Green about why he believes BID members should vote ‘yes’ to a second five-year term.

The BID services in Tunbridge Wells are delivered by RTW Together, a Community Interest Company, governed by a voluntary Board of Directors, who represent business members from across the town and its different sectors.

The BID is collectively funded by local businesses that pay a specified business rateable value within the town centre, the BID then invests that resource in a range of initiatives that support member businesses, and in turn, local residents.

According to Alex Green, around 25 per cent of local businesses and traders have voted but with the deadline fast approaching it is imperative that other BID members now cast their vote too. Many have already demonstrated they are in favour of a second term, with many sharing a ‘Vote YES’ board across their social media platforms.

“We ran in-person and online consultations with all BID members in advance of putting our plan together for the next five-year term,” explained Alex. “In addition to this we went out and saw as many BID members as possible which has provided me with another layer of feedback and enabled me to see them in action within their work setting.

“The BID works from the premise of being mightier when we work together collectively, and we are committed to ensuring Tunbridge Wells continues to be a great place to live, work and play. We have had really positive feedback from our visits, and of course we are eager to find out if we have a positive result at the beginning of March.

“However, it is as important to me to ensure we have heard the views of as many members as possible, and then have the opportunity to support them, and the town, for the next five years.”

Alex revealed that during the consultation period, BID members in Tunbridge Wells stated they wanted ‘a town that is buzzing, welcoming, inclusive, safe, community-focused and creative’.

There are currently over 350 BIDS around the UK in both towns and cities – locally these include Maidstone and Canterbury – and many of them are into their third or fourth term, demonstrating that BIDs can be an effective model for delivering on business needs.

The Times looked over the BID Business Plan for the next five-year term, to find out the proposed services which Alex and his team believe will enable the town to continue to thrive. The three main pillars of the plan cover:

Supporting – free training and conferences, grants, free digital and physical resources, business security, data and statistics to inform business decisions, measure footfall, assist members with easier recruitment, retention and networking

Promoting – national advertising campaigns attracting overseas and UK tourists, campaigns encouraging residents to support local, guides and maps to inform visitors of what’s on and a directory of BID members, collaborations with Visit TW to encourage footfall to the town, inward investment to promote the town as a place for business relocation and flexi-office spaces, organising town events to encourage movement & spending around the town, festivals and venues encouraging people to come for a day out

Enhancing – Investing in campaigns such as Safe Town Partnership, anti-spiking kits and the Women’s Safety Charter, financing lighting, planting and street art, developing public realm projects to enhance the town environment, street cleaning and graffiti removal, improving accessibility to the town, collaborations including being part of the Amplifi Collective, Creative Tunbridge Wells as well as supporting the TN card.

If the ballot has a successful outcome, RTW Together BID will start a second five-year term commencing April 1 2024. In the event the ballot is unsuccessful, the BID will cease to exist on March 31 2024 and all RTW Together operations will finish shortly after.

To cast your vote as a BID member, return your ballot paper either by post (using the self-addressed envelope provided) or by dropping it off (Monday-Friday between 9am-5pm) at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Reception, Town Hall, Civic Way, Royal Tunbridge Wells TN1 1RS where there will be a sealed ballot box.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter