BUSINESSES in the centre of Taunton could soon be paying a levy to fund initiatives to attract more people to the town.

More than 70 people attended the launch of the Taunton Business Improvement District (BID) plan, which could see £1.425 million spent on revitalising Taunton town centre over the next five years.

Attendees were overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals, including many of Taunton’s best-known businesses.

Taunton Chamber of Commerce is spearheading the campaign to create a BID in the county town.

It involves firms in the designated BID area paying a levy of 1.5 per cent of their rateable value to fund a range of activities decided by them, designed to make the town centre more prosperous.

Businesses will vote on whether to introduce a BID scheme on March 19. If they vote in favour, the project could start within the next six months.

Colin Barrell, chairman of the Taunton BID Working Group and owner of Mr Miles Tea Rooms, said: “People want to unite, work collaboratively and make Taunton a more inviting and vibrant place for residents, businesses and visitors.

"There is real pride in our county town and by working together and investing in events and campaigns, we can maximise and promote a much greater range of opportunities.

“This will improve the overall customer experience, make the town safer and more attractive and ensure we can compete against our bigger neighbours in Exeter and Bristol, as well as out-of-town outlets and online shopping.”

Attendees heard from Minehead businessman Graham Sizer and Minehead’s BID manager Andrew Hopkins about the significant benefits the scheme had brought to the seaside town.

The biggest chunk of the £1.425 million investment would be spent on ‘Vibrant Taunton’ which would see new events, street trading schemes, markets and parking initiatives, as well as ensuring businesses were consulted on key decisions which affected them and the town centre.

A dedicated campaign would promote the town, while money would be used to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and to offer dedicated business-based support and training.

Jayne O’Brien, owner of Eden May Lettings, said: “The power of working together and collaborating enables us to be heard and influence decisions that have an impact on our businesses. I think the timing is absolutely perfect for a BID now.”

Lee Tomkins, of Blackdown Financial, said Taunton had real potential to be great again if everyone worked together, while Mark Bouchier, manager of the Perkin Warbeck, said pub owner Wetherspoons always supported BIDs due to their positive impact.

Nick Chapman, of the Castle Hotel, said: “It makes absolute sense to support this initiative. A lot of people love Taunton. This is a vision for Taunton and we want to be a part of it. This is our town, our vision, let’s unite.”

In the interests of openness and transparency, the BID team also invited the No Taunton BID campaign to speak at the event to make their case against the scheme.

After the event Mr Barrell said: “We were delighted by the turnout this evening and as they left the event, many people commented on the great positivity and energy there was in the room. We are looking forward to harnessing that in future to make this BID work for everyone.”

More information about Taunton BID is available online at or by emailing Lucy Ball at