Festivals and CCTV key says Morecambe BID boss

John O'Neill
John O'Neill

As Morecambe BID (business improvement district) approaches its one year anniversary, manager John O’Neill discusses some of the key issues for the town.

First up are festivals and Morecambe has plenty of them.

“Morecambe is beautiful, there is no denying that I am passionate about the place,” said John, who is originally from Sydney but has lived in Morecambe for seven years.

“Festivals are becoming vitally important for the area, it is not just music but the whole experience.

“This year is going to be very good, with the Morecambe Music Festival, the kite festival, the One Man Band Shebang, Morecambe Carnival and Armed Forces Day.”

There are also plans to illuminate more parts of the town during Morecambe Sparkle in conjunction with the Christmas lights switch-on, on November 25.

Parts of the promenade, the Clock Tower, Queen Street, Victoria Street and Pedder street may be lit up to direct traffic and visitors during the festive period.

CCTV has also been a crucial topic.

After the announcement that Lancaster City Council funding to monitor CCTV ended on March 31 the BID has been battling to bring back a manned system.

Options are being explored in partnership with Lancaster BID, the Chamber of Commerce, the city council and the police to try and buy a system for less than its current cost of £165,000

“CCTV is crucial, it is such a big part of our lives, we will have an update on this after the election,” said John.

The Morecambe BID zone runs from the former Frontierland site to the town hall and businesses are required to pay a levy based on their rateable value, of 1.5 per cent, for any property above £3,500.

It then goes into the BID’s funding pot, money which is spent on improving the town, approximately £130,000 per year.

“Some businesses pay as little as possible, last year we had a good collection rate,” said John.

“Some try and get away with not paying, some operate on a seasonal basis. Overall we have received a very positive response.”

The BID is also launching a new website containing a business directory for zone members.

John said: “We are a voice for businesses, we offer them an opportunity to speak as one voice rather than 330 different voices.”