Principal urges businesses to adopt his school of thought for BID initiative
An educational institute should be at the heart of its community, according to the Principal of University College Birmingham (UCB) – who is in support of a new initiative to improve the Jewellery Quarter.
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 and 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.
Ray Linforth, who is also a member of the BID Steering Group, said: “The biggest agenda for me is ensuring a cleaner, tidier and safer environment for our staff and students. UCB, which was recently judged outstanding by Ofsted, has a student base of mainly 16-24 year olds, with a large majority of these being female. We also have many international students who come to this huge city. That can often be a quite daunting experience so it’s crucial we make them feel welcome and, more importantly, safe.
“Outlined in the BID Prospectus are plans to employ (?) street ambassadors who would act as helpful guides for people visiting the Quarter A number of students have commented that a similar scheme introduced by the Colmore Row BID was very useful when they asked for information about where to go and suggestions on what to do in the city centre.
Ray also feels that tackling dereliction and improving the connection between the Jewellery Quarter and the city centre – both issues recognised in the BID Prospectus – is imperative.
“UCB currently owns a derelict building in the Jewellery Quarter and we are working with the JQDT and BID committee to change that. We are also continuing to invest heavily in the area by developing a new campus on land bounded by George Street, Holland Street and Charlotte Street.”
Ray added: “I encourage businesses to vote ‘Yes’ to the JQ BID to ensure that the Quarter remains a place that students, particularly international ones, are proud to call home while they are studying.
We need more businesses like us to invest in the Quarter and a BID status will give it more gravitas to encourage companies to open up regional offices or even headquarters in the area.”
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?
- UCB’s catering students produce more than 36,000 loaves and 115,000 breads rolls every academic year, which are used in the student café, public restaurants and the ‘Cakes and Bakes’ shop.
- Former UCB pupil, Claire Hutchings, was a finalist in MasterChef 2011. While another, April Bloomfield, has gone on to own a Michelin starred restaurant in New York.
- UCB is visited and held in high regard by many celebrity chefs. In the past 12 months alone, the college has welcomed James Martin, Alain Roux and Brian Turner as well as a host of Birmingham’s own top chefs who support the College’s work.