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Backing sought for Durham business scheme
COUNCILLORS are being asked to back a scheme aimed at boosting the economy and supporting the traders of Durham city centre.
Durham County Council’s cabinet is being urged to support the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID), under which cash raised from a levy on businesses in the area would be spent on making it more attractive for residents, shoppers, visitors and retailers.
Around 140 of the five-year initiatives already exist across the UK, although there are relatively few in the north.
Durham’s BID would focus on marketing and events, business support and "clean and safe" initiatives to boost business growth.
It would only be introduced following a successful ballot of businesses, with support from more than half of businesses and more than half of the rateable value of the area.
Councillor Neil Foster, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: "Creating a thriving Durham City is a key priority of our regeneration statement by exploiting its potential as a major retail, business and residential centre, an academic hub and a visitor destination.
"If we are to achieve this ambition, we need to work with the city’s businesses and a BID would provide the most appropriate and effective way of doing this."
As the owner of 15 properties in the city, the council would have to pay into the BID but it expects this outlay would be offset by the increased business it is hoped the BID would generate.
It was originally hoped a Durham BID could be up and running by the end of last year.
However, a ballot is now planned for September, with the result expected in mid-October.
If the scheme goes ahead, it could begin next April.
It is expected the BID would cover shops and licensed premises in lower Claypath, Elvet, the Peninsula, Framwelgate Waterside and North Road.
Supporters say any improvements would add not, not replace, those carried out by the council. What work was needed would be decided by further votes.
For more information, visit durhambid.co.uk or call 0191-3831898.
The council's cabinet will debate the issue next Tuesday.