Businesses seek more BID information

One Warkworth still has some ground to cover to ensure that businesses who are eligible to vote on the Business Improvement District (BID) this month have the information they need.

Mahurangi Matters did a walk around the town last week to gauge the level of support for the BID (see below, for details), only to find that many business owners felt too poorly informed to comment.
Hush Hair owner Damian Lawlor echoed the feelings of several shop owners when he said there wasn’t a lot of interest in the BID. He says that while he understands the need for paid employees to get things done, it is a bit irrelevant if Council just does what it wants regardless. “I probably won’t vote.”

But Copyworks owner Chris Hodder was a lot more positive about this BID getting across the line. “I felt the last BID was weighted too much towards retailers rather than service and industrial areas. The spread this time is much more even.” He would like to see the BID funds spent on improving access for visitors in and out of town. “Roading, and Hill Street in particular, really is still our biggest bugbear.”

Buckton Consulting director Tony Hayman says he will definitely be supporting the BID. “Warkworth is growing in size with numerous businesses opening up as development occurs. The current model of a business association funded primarily by sponsors (of which Buckton’s is one) and small membership fees from voluntary members, is not sustainable going forward. All of the businesses in the commercial/industry/professional services fields can benefit from the work a properly funded association can deliver. “The proposed funding model is fair, without being too onerous on small businesses, who stand to gain just as much as a large businesses.” Tony adds that a BID will need to be careful that its efforts are not greatly influenced by any one business area, and thus the BID should be looking at firstly continuing to work in ensuring/providing appropriate transport routes (includes pedestrian and cycles) between the various areas so that the town can function as one alongside a motorway.

Initially, Coconut Gallery owner Maxine Axford wasn’t sure what the BID was and was not keen to comment. However, after being approached by the paper, she looked in to it further, and said she was “absolutely 100 per cent in favour”. “It will give us a say about what we want for our community and I’m 100 per cent for that. People caring for one another is what it’s all about, and my experience of One Warkworth is that they care, whether that is by putting up lights or just creating a bit of life and belonging in Warkworth.”

Gubbs Motors managing director Kevin Jones says he is still undecided. “We’re in an industrial area so I can’t see it doing much for us,” he says. “I see it being more for the retailers and businesses in the town centre.

Mason Contractors managing director Lance O’Callaghan says he is definitely supporting the BID. “The way it is structured this time around, compared to the previous option, is much better,” he says. “Everyone you talk to seems to be feeling positive about the BID.” Lance would like to see BID funding spent on initiatives that support local growth.

One Warkworth deputy chair Mark Macky says One Warkworth has erected a dozen billboards around town and is conducting a social media and advertising campaign to convince business owners and landlords of the benefits of the BID.

“I have not heard of anyone strongly against the BID, but if someone is we would love to hear from them to discuss and debate the issue. We genuinely believe this is the best way forward,” he says.

Important dates
One Warkworth has organised three public meetings to provide information about establishing the Business Improvement District, the benefits and what is planned for the first two years with opportunities to ask questions. The meeting will be held at the Bridgehouse back bar starting at 5.30pm on:
Wednesday, 12 February
Wednesday, 19 February
Wednesday, 26 February
Anyone interested in the BID is welcome to attend and there will be opportunities to ask questions.

A list of all eligible voters will be published on the One Warkworth website around the middle of this month and business owners and landlords are asked to check their details.

The vote will be run by Independent Electoral Services. If you are eligible to vote, you can do so online or by using a postal vote. Voting opens on February 16 and ends on March 16. The result will be known a few days after the close of voting. The ballot is based on the principle of ‘one entity – one vote’/‘one person – one vote’, an entity being a ratepayer and/or a business/occupier.

If the vote is successful, a recommendation will be made to Auckland Council that Warkworth becomes a Business Improvement District. If this is passed, the rate will be introduced in Council’s next financial year, which starts on July 1, and it is anticipated the rate will raise about $134,000 annually.