Lancaster businesses vote ‘yes’ to Business Improvement District

Supporters of the Business Improvement District in Lancaster city centre, from left, Paul Cusimano, Jonathan Barker, Jonathan Banks-Lyons and Richard Taylor.

Supporters of the Business Improvement District in Lancaster city centre, from left, Paul Cusimano, Jonathan Barker, Jonathan Banks-Lyons and Richard Taylor.

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Businesses in Lancaster have voted yes to making the city centre a Business Improvement District (BID).

Turnout in the ballot was 40 per cent with 67 per cent of businesses by number voting in favour and 61 per cent in favour by size.

The vote was independently managed by the Electoral Reforms Service.

The successful ballot means that an extra £650,000 will be invested in Lancaster city centre thanks to business ratepayers, who lie within the BID area and have a property with a rateable value of over £10,000, contributing a 1.5 per cent levy.

The Lancaster BID steering group will now look to appoint a BID manager to work with the city’s business community to provide services over and above those already provided by the local authorities. Ideas include additional marketing, promotional initiatives, as well as projects to utilise empty shops and attract more visitors.

Paul Cusimano, Chair of the Lancaster Unlimited Steering Group set up to deliver the BID said: “The fact that businesses in Lancaster city centre have voted in favour of a Business Improvement District during the current economic climate is a real testament to them and their belief in the Business Improvement District model.

“This ‘Yes’ vote provides us with the opportunity to implement the range of projects and services detailed in our business plan which was developed following extensive consultation with the Lancaster business community.

“There is a very positive outlook in the city, and a real commitment to developing a successful Business Improvement District that will benefit local business, shoppers and visitors. Businesses believe that a BID is the right thing to do for Lancaster’s long term prospects over the next three years.

“Lancaster has rich assets which make it an excellent place in which to live, work, and visit. However businesses have told us that the city needs to do more to promote itself as a retail and business centre if it is to compete more effectively against other locations.

“Winning the vote will now mean that the business community can now move forward to deliver a wide range of initiatives that will improve the attraction and appeal of the city centre by making it a more prosperous, exciting and vibrant place in which to shop, live, work, and visit.”

What do you think? Did you vote? Call the Lancaster Guardian on 01524 834060, or email guardian@lmnews.co.uk.