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Shoppers could get access to free wi-fi across Lichfield city centre if businesses back a new proposal. Plans to create a business improvement district (BID) will be voted on by companies in July. The initiative will see firms put the equivalent of 1.5% of their annual rateable value into a pot earmarked for projects to drive new business. Organisers say the BID could generate around £1million over five years to boost trade in the city centre. Chairman of the BID project, Paul Maddox, said a number of ideas were already on the table – and insisted that widespread digital connectivity will help put Lichfield on the map. “This will be a first for Staffordshire as we introduce free wi-fi across the whole of the city centre,” he said. “It will mean people can come into the city, sit on a bench and log straight on. “We’ve got 20 projects at the moment that we’re looking to introduce. They are mainly aimed at generating extra footfall and attracting new businesses into Lichfield.” Among the other initiatives on the table are a new Christmas event and boosting the Lichfield Food Festival. Ideas are also in the pipeline to boost both the day and night-time economy. Mr Maddox – who owns both The Scales and the Three Spires Coffee Shop – explained: “We plan to introduce ‘Night Angels’ to help people get taxis and help people around the city. “Most businesses will also benefit from a free radio system to keep them in contact with CCTV control and the police.” A number of companies have already backed the BID initiative, but the vote – which runs between July 2 and 30 – will require a majority to back it for the scheme to go ahead. Mr Maddox said that half of the city’s businesses will end up paying £250 a year or less to join the scheme. “After speaking to a lot of business owners in Lichfield I’m positive it’s going to happen. “There are one or two who are against it, but that’s quite normal – most businesses we’ve spoken to are pro-BID.” The BID business plan – which will be voted on by more than 500 companies in the city – is available now to download.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

7 replies on “Free city centre wi-fi planned in bid to boost Lichfield businesses”

  1. Free Wi-Fi would be fantastic. I’m on Vodafone and have absolutly no phone reception or internet access in Lichfield City centre, it’s like a black hole and rely on pub & shop Wi-Fi whilst in Lichfield. I’ve spoken to people in the Vodafone shop in Lichfield and they just shrugged their shoulders and said it’s something they know about but don’t have permission for a transmitter in the area.

  2. Hi Marty,

    I tried Vodafone a few years ago and found it utterly dreadful in Lichfield. Although it was a 24 month contract I managed to complain enough that they agreed to cancel the contract and took the phone back.

    I don’t know why they bother having a Vodafone shop in Lichfield.

    Hope you get something sorted.

  3. Nice to see that even after 10 years since my original complaint to Vodafone, they still haven’t done a jot about the signal issues in Lichfield. Talk about sticking your head in the sand. Vote with your feet, people!

  4. Excellent idea to provide free Wi-Fi in Lichfield.
    This will help trade, the local population and our visitors.
    We should do anything to keep Lichfield a competitive and accessible community.

  5. Free wi-fi is an excellent idea and a cost effective incentive to come into town or stay in town longer.

    On signage promoting the service, a local information website address could be on it – with information, maps etc further promoting the area.

    Nice to see the first use of the BID could be giving something back to the people who use the town.

  6. Don’t really understand the need for this.. BT provide free wifi in the city covering most areas. Plus I use my own phone for internet use. Ongoing costs would be an issue as well as permissions to place transmitters to ensure no black spots the same issue Vodafone have

    If you want a good city centre then the businesses need to improve there customer services and landlords improve there responsibilities
    A city wide wifi will not increase footfall.. Neither will this BID. City centre businesses already get discount on their rates etc.. So not sure how this extra money will aid footfall ?

    I maybe missing the point but to me what Lichfield really needs is a radical re think and businesses providing better service

  7. Mr Lichfield misses the point of the free publicity gained by being the first online free WiFi city. That alone will increase footfall.
    I use the town – there’s loads of blacks pots and I have O2 and BT WiFi and 3g.

    People will be able to post their selfie and touristy pics instantly. Lichfield would have a bigger online presence as it has a bigger connection.

    It also is not at the expense of other possible improvements.

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