BIDs improving Reading town centre for shoppers and business

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are places where extra services are provided such as events and initiatives to improve the experience of the area for businesses, shoppers and staff.

The town has two BIDs, the Reading Central BID, which covers Broad Street and other parts of the town centre, and the Abbey Quarter BID, which has a focus on the Abbey, centrally located offices and the River Kennet.

Projects of the BIDs include the Eat Reading food festival, the Carnival of the World, this month’s Christmas Lights switch on and the hiring of town centre wardens.

READ MORE: Christmas shop returns to Reading town centre – Here’s what’s inside

Now, a consultation is being undertaken to determine BID priorities, which include improving safety, security and sustainability, making the town centre an exciting place to visit, and making sure that the area is a place where people can be informed and represented.

Alexa Volker, Reading BID manager said that its work involves £1.5 million of investment into the town centre each year over a five-year period.

BIDs are time-limited by five years. Recently, members of Reading Borough Council’s policy committee unanimously voted to support the continuation of the Reading Central and Abbey Quarter bids until 2029.

At the meeting, Ms Volker said the £1,5 million annual investment from the BIDs would amount to just over £7 million over the five-year period from 2024 to 2029.

Liz Terry (Labour, Coley), the deputy council leader said: “We have had a great thriving town centre, many of the things that happen are because of the BID and the work that goes on in partnership in the town centre and we’d like to see that continue.”

READ MORE: See pictures – Carnival of the World lights up Broad Street 

A meeting was held in the town centre earlier this month where the achievements of the BIDs over the last five years were celebrated.

Councillor Tony Page, the Mayor of Reading, said: “Reading town centre today looks enormously different to when I first became a councillor. It’s gone from ‘Sleepy Hollow’, with last buses at 11pm, to a 24-hour diverse and vibrant city in all but name.

“For the past 16 years, the BID has reflected and represented the ever-changing make-up of our town centre businesses, from retail to hospitality, leisure and offices, ensuring that we support individual business success through a wide range of initiatives that make Reading a great place in which to work, do business, visit or live.

“The BID has been a vital part of the economic growth of our town centre and it is essential that it continues to be so, and Reading Borough Council looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the BID for many years to come.”

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The continuation of both BIDs until 2029 will be decided in a vote of member businesses and organisations in January 2024.

The ballot will decide whether the BIDs will continue once the current projects expire on March 31, 2024.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre