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Scheme to boost Durham city centre backed in traders' vote
DURHAM is to get a city centre Business Improvement District (BID), after traders backed the proposals in an overwhelming vote.
The BID will see businesses in the area affected, which includes the Peninsula, Elvet, Walkergate and North Road, charged 1.5 per cent of their rateable value for the next five years, with the money raised – about £1.6m – spent on measures aimed at boosting the city centre economy.
It will come into force after 86 per cent of businesses in the area voted in favour, on a turnout of 33 per cent. The ‘yes’ vote represented 76 per cent of rateable value of those who voted.
The results were announced today (October 17) at Durham Town Hall.
Richard Toynbee, manager of the Prince Bishops shopping centre and chair of the BID Task Group, said: “The is a fantastic result for all involved and allows Durham city centre to improve further over the next five years through the proposals detailed in our BID.
“It has been a long and tough two-and-a-half years’ work and I would like to thank all involved for their time and support in making a real difference to Durham’s future.”
Coun Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This is an important moment for businesses in Durham City - one which I believe signals a new and exciting direction in the increasingly competitive worlds of retail and hospitality.”
The BID will be run as an independent not-for-profit company with a board of 15 directors. These will initially be Task Group members, with Mr Toynbee as chair. Elections to the board will be held after a year.
The BID is expected to come into force in January, when the first bills will be sent to the 436 relevant businesses.
Proposals included in the business plan include introducing a Durham ‘app’ for smartphones, launching up to three new annual events, employing city ambassadors, extending the park-and-ride bus service and creating interactive information points.
The BID will last for five years, after which another vote will be held on whether it should continue. For more information, visit durhambid.co.uk