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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Businessman wants more detail on Carlisle improvement plan

Plans for a Business Improvement District (BID) in the centre of Carlisle have not been properly explained to retailers, a city businessman has warned.

Tom Boyd photo
Tom Boyd

Tom Boyd, owner of Boyd Hair and Beauty, on Bank Street, said he felt unable to support the idea because it was not clear what the benefits would be.

City MP John Stevenson is backing the proposal, which would see shops and offices pay higher rates in return for additional spending on the area where they are based.

The idea moved a step closer when Carlisle city councillors approved proposals to form an interim city centre management company to push ahead with the plans a fortnight ago.

But Mr Boyd said he was worried that the scheme was not transparent enough.

“What concerns me is who would be deciding where this money is spent?

“Among the business owners I’ve spoken to, no-one really knows what this is about. I feel it hasn’t been properly explained.

“I don’t want to be a killjoy;I’m as passionate about the city centre as anyone, but we have to be sure this is going to benefit everyone.

“It’s all very well for the managers of national chains in the town to say they will contribute, but it’s not their money they are spending.

“There are very few of us independent, local retailers left and it’s worrying when you see shops closing down.

“Parking is the major issue – we need more free or cheap parking close to the city centre.

“There are good things happening, like the continental markets which create good PR for the city centre, but more needs to be done.

“Here on Bank Street we’ve got a beautiful little street which I think would benefit from Victorian canopies and an entrance into The Lanes.

“I’m not against a BID in principle, but I don’t feel I can support when there are so many unanswered questions.”

Mr Stevenson said: “Businesses will be able to work together to create an ideal environment to attract customers, increase trade and attract other businesses to trade in the city centre.”

For the plan to become reality the majority of businesses must give their consent. If they vote ‘yes’, it would start in September, lasting between one and five years.

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