Jam House manager in high spirits ahead of BID ballot result
A new initiative for Jewellery Quarter businesses to fund improvements in their area is music to the ears of a long established local venue.
The Jewellery Quarter BID, which is being led by the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) in partnership with Birmingham City Council, aims to attract investment, increase visitor numbers and encourage a more vibrant economy, while making the area a better place in which to work, invest and live.
Over 500 local businesses are being asked to vote to support the initiative, which will see companies with premises with a rateable value of £10,000 or above pay an annual levy of 2% to fund additional investment for the benefit of the whole area. The voting ballot, which commenced on 17th April 2012, will run for five weeks until 24th May.
John Bunce, managing director of The Jam House on St Paul’s Square, believes the BID will help to create autonomy in the community and make the area more attractive for people visiting and working in the Quarter.
John, who is also a director of the Jewellery Quarter Association (JQA) and sits on the BID Steering Group, said: “The Jewellery Quarter is a community that is constantly growing and the dynamics are changing on a regular basis. The area, well known for its manufacturing and jewellery industries, is also fast becoming a popular location for creative businesses, such as architects and designers, and residents.
“In the past, I have been frustrated with the lack of support from the City Council, for example when they have left roads and pavements unrepaired or broken signs have not been replaced. By becoming a Business Improvement District (BID), local businesses can set an agenda and priorities that meet their needs and get things done!”
However, John says we can’t just rely on the revenue raised from levy payers to improve the Quarter.
“I think all businesses can do their bit to ensure that the area is kept clean, tidy and presentable. As a bar operator there are times when there is broken glass outside or empty takeaway cartons strewn on the pavement from late night partygoers. We know accidents happen, especially when people have been drinking and having a good time, but I make a real effort to clean up anything that could make the Jam House look uninviting. All businesses need to ensure that the outside of their premises is kept clean from rubbish and cigarette ends, etc. We all have to take some responsibility for the area in which we work and live. Undoubtedly, a successful BID will encourage businesses to work together and take pride in their area.”
Confirmation that the police station will remain in the Jewellery Quarter has also come as a welcome relief to John and other licenced leisure businesses in the area.
“Having a bricks and mortar presence of police in the Quarter is very important as it reassures people that they can have a good night out in safe surroundings. However, if we do have an incident, we know it can be dispersed within minutes of alerting the authorities because they are already patrolling the area, whether it’s on foot, by bike or in the car.
“I’m confident that the BID will help to preserve and enhance the pleasant surroundings and safe environment that we already have in the Jewellery Quarter, to make it a destination that people want to visit – whether it’s for its heritage, jewellery or nightlife.”
The board of the JQDT decided in early-summer 2011 to support the BID proposal and develop the initiative in partnership with Birmingham City Council. Being a Community Interest Company, the JQDT is made up of key community and stakeholder organisations from within the Jewellery Quarter, including the Jewellery Quarter Association, the Jewellery Quarter Marketing Initiative, the Jewellery Quarter Trade Alliance and the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum.
The Trust Board agreed that a levy of 2% should be set on all properties with a rateable value of £10,000 and above and that the Jewellery Quarter BID area would be defined as the area bounded by the Jewellery Quarter side of Great Charles Street, Livery Street, Great Hampton Street, Key Hill Drive, Icknield Street, Sandpits/The Parade and Summer Row.
The BID would help to improve the Jewellery Quarter in many ways, including providing a welcoming environment for visitors, clean and safer streets, improving marketing to increase footfall and inward investment, and improving connectivity to the city centre.
For more information, visit www.jqdt.org/BIDs.
Did you know?
- The Jam House opened on 23rd April 1999 to a capacity crowd who were entertained by its patron and biggest supporter, Jools Holland and his Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Orchestra.
- Long time resident of St Pauls Square, and original owner of the Jam House, the late Neil Tibbatt, travelled the world searching for iconic features and artwork to decorate the venue in the years before the Jam House opened. Voodoo dolls from the Caribbean, Buddhist statues from Bhutan, totems from the Congo, and, of course, the classic angel sculptures from the Edinburgh artiste, David Begbie.
- In the early days of the business, the Jam House was beset by mishap after mishap, and some of the more spiritual members of the team began to believe that the building was jinxed or possibly even haunted. The manager at the time brought in an expert in these matters. He identified the large Buddha’s head was facing away from the window; it was turned towards the light, and the Jam House troubles were over!
- Over 20,000 hours of live music has been played on the Jam House stage in the past thirteen years.
- The most played song in the history of the Jam House is “Mustang Sally” the blues / R’n’B classic from the ‘60s, made popular by Wilson Pickett and the film “The Commitments”. Recently however, this claim to popularity is steadily being usurped by Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”, being played by soul groups, rock bands, funksters, and even a couple of the reggae bands that frequent the Jam House.