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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Carlisle firms reject Business Improvement District proposal

Firms in Carlisle city centre have not backed a proposal to set up a Business Improvement District.

Most of the business ratepayers in the area who voted rejected the plan - although the majority of rateable value voted in favour.

A ‘yes’ vote was required for both categories to allow the district to be approved.

The results of the month-long ballot were announced in the Civic Centre this afternoon after voting began on whether to launch a BID on August 29.

The proposed BID involved a band of businesses agreeing to pay an extra charge on top of business rates, which would have been managed by an independent business-led company.

It would aim to improve services and conditions in the defined geographic area where the businesses were based.

Supporters claimed the move would significantly boost the city centre’s economy, pointing out that the area is under pressure as a retail centre as the recession continues.

Qualifying businesses were sent pink ballot papers and had until yesterday to return them.

A total of 332 businesses were eligible to vote. The total number of non-spoiled votes cast was 124 - which equates to a 37.3 per cent turnout.

Fifty five votes were cast in favour of the proposal.

If successful, the BID term would have started on January 1, 2013.

Its benefits included, say supporters, reduced operating costs for businesses; effective and sustainable city centre management; marketing and events to encourage shoppers and visitors; a cleaner, safer and more accessible city centre.

Have your say

I'm surprised by two things. The first is that the turn out was so low. I would have thought that any local business worth its salt would jump at a opportunity to influence development for the better (or worse?).
Secondly I would have thought that some local businesses would have been trying to do this a long time ago.
Bob

Posted by Bob Builder on 29 September 2012 at 12:22

Maybe this shows that the small business owners did their homework and looked at how small businesses similar to theirs faired when being part of a Business Improvement District in other parts of the country, such as the New West End BID.

There have been glossy documents published to point out the advantages of a Business Improvement District, but I have yet to see any documents or anything in the press highlighting the concerns voiced about how the big chain stores head office influence local decision making and the blurring of public-private accountability, legitimacy and control.

There has also been no coverage of what is basically the privatisation of public space and what this might mean in the future. Other city centre BIDs already use private security companies which have been given powers to move people on and to stop legitimate protest within BID areas.

Local government representatives are accountable to the people, BIDs gives political empowerment to the private sector with little said about the influence and the vested interests of those involved.

Posted by J on 29 September 2012 at 12:01

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