Business Comments & Questions Answered

Here you will find answers to some comments and questions we have received during our engagement with businesses along with some misconceptions regarding Advancing Aberystwyth and our work.

Levy payments

Do Aberystwyth University receive an 80% discount on their levy payments?

No. The University do no receive any discount and pay the full 1.25% of the rateable value of each of their premises within the BID area.

Are levy payments capped for large businesses?

No. Every single businesses pays 1.25% of their whole rateable value. There is no cap on payments for multi nationals.

COVID-19

Did you collect the levy during COVID-19 pandemic?

No we did not. Along with other BIDs in Wales, we lobbied the Welsh Government to suspend the levy charges to businsses during 2020/21. Unfortiunately, they were not prepared to do so. However, in order to support small businsses, our board decided not to collect the levy from businesses with a rateable value of £51k and under.

What did you do to help businesses?

As well as not charging the levy to small businsses, we also provided the following support:

  • Set up a new web area promoting new services and opening times of businesses during ‘lockdown’
  • Offered FREE e-learning courses in partership with Coleg Ceredigion whilst businesses and staff were on furlough leave
  • Provided FREE Re-opening Protection Kits for businesses
  • Offered FREE COVID-19 training
  • Provided FREE outdoor furniture to help hospitality businesses
  • Secured a grant to provide new outdoor café areas in the town

Still to come:

  • FREE Hand Sanitiser for re-opening after second fire break lockdown
  • FREE facebook advertising for businesses
  • New ‘Siop Aber – Caru Aber’ shop local Gift Voucher project over Christmas and New Year

Ice Rink & Winterland

The Ice Rink was a waste of levy payers money
Our Ice Rink was not actually funded by our levy income. We received a grant from the Mill Street Development Fund in 2018. The income we recieve from ticket sales and sponsorship means the ice rink can return every year.
The Ice Rink is in the wrong the location
In 2018 we wanted to bring a major winter attraction to the town centre over the festive period. We looked at several options including car parks on the outskirts of town, however we wanted visitors to have to walk though the centre of town in order to reach the attraction, hopefully visiting shops and cafes at the same time. The most appropriate site closest to the town centre was the Castle Green & St Michaels Car Park. We have learned a lot over the past 2 years, and realise the location has its restrictions. As a result, the 2020 Winterland & Ice rink (cancelled due to COVID-19) was to be moved to the Vale of Rheidol Car Park, allowing us to have a bigger Ice Rink and bigger/better Winterland Rides. That location will also be more sheltered from the wind and will result in less cancelled sessions. The 2021 attraction will be located at the Vale of Rheidol.
Did the Ice Rink make huge losses?

Advancing Aberystwyth are not a commercial organisation. When we deliver our projects,  our aim is not to make a profit, it is to provide benefits to the levy businesses (directly or indirectly). However, where appropriate, we will charge for certain projects/attractions e.g. Ice Rink and Cinemas, so that they can become self-sustaining. In order to encourage more people to the town, our Ice Rink ticket prices were the cheapest in the UK – we could have charged more, but making money was not our aim, it was to draw as many people to town as possible.

Project Income & Expenditure:

2018 Expenditure: £93,057

2018 Income: £86,496

2019 Expenditure: £99,617

2019 Income: £62,996

Therefore over the two years, the average cost was approx. £21k per year, which we believe is great value for a month long attraction that brought thousands of visitors to the town from all over the UK. When we move to a new site, we expect the prject to breakeven, as we will be able to sell more tickets (due to bigger rink) and there should be less cancelled sessions being more sheltered from the wind.

The Ice Rink & Rides are too small
Although we were pleased to have a location so close to our businesses, the major restriction of the site we chose was space and weight, which meant we could only include a few small rides, and a small ice rink . In future years, the Winterland will be moved to Rheidol Car park, which will allow us to have a bigger Ice Rink and bigger/better rides.

Look of the Town

Why are we paying to clear gutters?

We believe that it’s important that the town looks attractive and welcoming. As we cannot replace or duplicate services provided by the council e.g. street cleaning, we provided a new service to help improve the look of the town. Also, for individual businesses to clear their own gutter, could be quite an expensive service, therefore by us doing it in bulk was excellent value for money. We also cleared some shop fronts before businesses re-opened after the original lockdown.

Why aren't we clearing rubbish from the streets?

We are not able to spend levy payers money on replacing existing council services e.g. refuse collecting. However, we are able to add value to those services, therefore we have funded equipment for volunteers to do litter picking, and in the future we will aim to improve this service by introducing schemes such as seagull proof bags.

Outdoor Cinemas

How much levy money is spent on the cinemas?

The fact that we charge an admission fee for our cinemas means that they pay for themselves and no levy money is spent on them. As a result, we are making the levy money go further by being able to deliver more projects and events.

When a cinema is cancelled, we are still paying a fee, which is a waste of levy money

This is incorrect. Unfortunately, due to high winds, we have cancelled two of our cinema events in order to ensure public safety. When this happens, we simply choose another date and we do not get charged by the supplier for the cancelled event.

Paddling Pool / Sand Pit

Whose responsibility is the Paddling Pool?
The paddling pool, is the responsiobility of Ceredigion County Council and not Advancing Aberystwyth.
Why is there no Giant Sand Pit in 2020?

IN 2018 & 2019, we secured a licence from the council to use the site. In January 2020, this licence was refused by the council as the site was no longer structurally safe – due to storm damage in the winter of 2019. As a result, the paddling pool stayed empty in 2020.

Why was it stopped being used as a Paddling Pool?
The council closed the paddling pool as it was no longer able to hold water. 
Why did we turn the site in to a Giant Sand Pit in 2018 & 2019?

In 2018, we asked the council if we could create a Splash Park on the site. However, no long term development can take place there until the Sea Defence work has been completed. Therefore, we wanted a short term use for the site, as we felt it was an eyesore on the prom. We were told by the council that it could no longer be used as a paddling pool as it could not hold water, therefore we came up with the idea of a Giant Sand Pit.

Who is responsible for cleaning the paddling pool site?
We are only responsible for the paddling pool site for the period when we had a licence to use it. As we no longer have a licence, the up-keep and cleaning is the responsibility of the council.