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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Carlisle firms urged to take part in business district ballot

Independent business owners have urged their counterparts to make their voices heard over proposals for a Business Improvement District (BID) in Carlisle.

They have said it is important to take part in a ballot on the subject, whether or not they are in favour.

Some are concerned that a small turnout could result in a verdict many firms do not want.

“The number of people who reply to questionnaires can be quite low,” said Tom Boyd, of Boyd Hair and Beauty on Bank Street.

He suggested that if only 80 firms replied to the ballot, and more than 40 were in favour, it would then create an additional cost for all businesses in the district.

The proposal for a BID was introduced earlier this year.

It would have a number of responsibilities including monitoring and increasing footfall, developing and maintaining the city as a tourist hub, promoting a mixture of independent and chain shops, developing the environment and running promotional campaigns.

It would also act as a formal organisation for protecting commercial interests.

A business plan has been sent to around 300 firms in Carlisle, along with voting slips for a postal ballot which is currently underway and will close on August 23.

If successful, a BID company would start operating in September, with the remit to run for five years.

Its costs would be met by city centre businesses on top of their rates.

This charge would be set at one per cent of rateable value of a business’ property in the first year, rising by three per cent in each subsequent year.

Mr Boyd is firmly against the district, which he believes would bring additional costs of several hundred pounds in a year.

“I don’t disagree with their ideas but I do disagree with an extra £400-500 a year,” he said.

Terry Foster of Cassanova Menswear on St Cuthberts Lane agreed.

“It’s not for nothing, it’s going to be an extra on our rates,” he commented.

Jon Stewart, of Fisher Street, though was more enthusiastic.

“None of us are completely happy with the way the city council runs andmanages the city centre,” he said.

“It’s here to improve business within the city centre which, you have to say, is a good thing.

He encouraged people to go to two information meetings being held in his cafe.

One takes place this evening at 6pm, the other tomorrow at 8am.

Further details can also be found by visiting www.carlislebid.co.uk.

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