GO! Southampton, the city's Business Improvement District (BID) was established in 2017 and is seeking a further five-year term from 2022-2027 to support the city-centre business community with an investment of £6.5m.

The ballot takes place from today (14 October) and 11 November and some 637 businesses are eligible to vote.

GO! Southampton has four themes which they base their work around. They are:

*Stronger Business

*A Greater City Centre Experience.

*Better Marketing

*Culture, Events and Partnerships

Today we are profiling the last of these.

IF Southampton's Business Improvement District was not around, it's likely that no-one else would be able to fill its shoes.

That's the firm view of the GO! Southampton chairman, Tim Keeping.

Tim said: "I believe the BID has done a great job in its first term from 2017, helping to bring in millions of pounds of investment to Southampton.

"But we have only been able to do that working in partnership with others, including the city council, Chamber of Commerce, Westquay and Marlands - two of the original backers.

"That now extends to the two universities, the football club, most of the major businesses like John Lewis and IKEA and a real smattering of independent businesses right across the city."

"The BID organisation would not exist without the partners we have. We would never have got off the ground without that collaboration, effectively creating a new business organisation out of fresh air.

"I honestly do not think anyone else would be able to step in and fill the gap if there was no second term for the BID. There are many things that wouldn't be happening if GO! Southampton didn't exist anymore.

"The one thing we were very clear about from the very beginning was that we were there not to replicate but to enhance and improve the offer of Southampton and I really believe we do that in so many different ways.

"The vast majority of what we do now would, to put it bluntly, cease if we weren't here."

Mr Keeping said he was absolutely delighted with the news last Friday that Southampton had been listed as one of the last eight of the competing cities for UK City of Culture 2025.

"This is tremendous news for the city. I am also a trustee of the City of Culture 2025 Trust and GO! Southampton took an early decision to fully immerse itself in support of the 2025 bid. We have all been on the same page on this."

Mr Keeping said GO! Southampton had worked very closely with the City of Culture team, especially on co-branding and promoting events.

He also said events had been and would continue to be a big part of the vibrancy of city life. The recent RE:claim festival was a case in point.

"RE: Claim was very much about saying there is a huge street culture in Southampton and rather than parachute something in, we thought, let’s take the momentum behind what’s here already, build on it and celebrate this as one of the great things about the city.

"These things have been growing in the pandemic. We have a very young, diverse and vibrant population and people have been using outdoor spaces much more because they have not been able to use indoor venues for the past 18 months."

He added Seaside in the Square had also been very successful.

"It’s also about saying we are a seaside city and celebrating that too," he said.

"I am really proud to lead such an exceptional board of directors and team, with all the energy they put into not just the here and now, but hopefully into the future.

"If nothing else we can carry the voice of some 600, possibly soon to be more than 640 individual businesses and make that voice heard loud and clear to those who can make a difference in our city."