Huntingdon mayor declares war on cyclists in town’s pedestrianised High Street

THREE town centre rangers will begin patrolling the streets of Huntingdon early next year – and the mayor wants them to help fight his newly declared ‘war on cyclists’.

The three part-time rangers, who will be easily identified by their bright red uniforms, are going to be the most prominent public face of the new Business Improvement District (BID), which officially began its life on Friday (November 9) after being given the green light in a vote by businesses.

BID Huntingdon Ltd, a not-for-profit company, will have a budget of about �1million to spend over the next five years, delivering projects in four key areas:

? Making Huntingdon clean, safe and welcoming

? Providing marketing, promotion and events

? Providing business support

? Looking at access, including parking

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The rangers will be charged with delivering the first of the four challenges – and that, according to Councillor Colin Hyams, town mayor, should include dealing with cyclists who ignore the ban on bikes being pedalled along parts of the town’s high street.

“I want to declare war on the cyclists who ignore the ban,” Cllr Hyams told those gathered at the George Hotel for the launch of BID Huntingdon. “We have this happening with cyclists going to the schools in the morning and coming back again in the afternoon.

“A lot of people are complaining and we need to do something about it.”

Katy Sismore, project manager for BID Huntingdon, agreed that some people had been put off from walking through town and added: “In Bedford the rangers have been telling people to get off their bikes and perhaps that’s something we can look at here.”

The rangers will not just be tackling cyclists who choose to ignore the rules. Their roles, after being trained by rangers in Rugby, will be to liaise with businesses, help visitors and actively work with the police on crime and safety issues Monday through to Saturday.

But the BID will be providing a lot more than red-robed rangers, as Mrs Sismore explained.

Events to bring in shoppers – such as the Christmas lights switch on – will be organised by the BID company. All of the businesses in the BID area – shops and offices in the town centre – will be offered free membership of Huntingdonshire Business Against Crime (from December 1), first aid courses, networking, and advice and training.

Probably more significantly for many businesses will be the chance to make some savings and recoup some of the money they pay into the BID – it’s funded through a levy calculated on a firm’s business rates. The BID will take on a collective bargaining role – for those who want it – with the aim of getting deals on services such as trade waste and insurance. Also, expect a new website for Huntingdon,

Some of these projects will come online next year while other schemes included in the BID business plan will be prioritised by the directors of BID Huntingdon.