A NEW name, a new image and a new openness is being promised by the first-ever manager of Skipton Business Improvement District (BID).

Now into its second five-year term, the BID will now be known as Skipton Town Partnership.

It is a move that manager Mary Arber hopes will help convince traders that it is a partnership working for the greater good of Skipton.

Mrs Arber, a former manager of Skipton Oxfam, started just three weeks ago and is the first paid officer of the organisation.

It is a part -time role, of just three days a week, but as a Skipton resident who spends a lot of her time in the town she envisages a great deal of cross-over.

And with a second term only narrowly approved following a vote of business ratepayers earlier this year, she accepts she faces a challenge.

"So far, most people I talk to don't know who we are, and what we do. I see its very important that I get out and talk to the traders and change that," she said.

In the last five years, the BID supported and either partially or completely financed the majority of town events - including the Yuletide Festival, Sheep Day, Waterway Festival, and the Olympic Torch relay. It also developed the I Love Skipton website and financed Skipton in Bloom.

Mrs Arber is also keen to look at other, less tourism-centred projects.

"We need to acknowledge that not everyone wants vast amount of visitors and want another type of visitor who will stay in the town and spend money," she said.

In her conversations with traders and businesses, she has found a desire to encourage local people to do their shopping in the town.

To that end, she hopes to talk to the district council about parking issues and other ways of making the town more accessible to locals.

The STP has guaranteed funds, from a levy raised on all business rate payers, of £150,000 a year, but Mrs Arber will also be seeking grants from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council.

She is looking into the creation of a historical trail, using photographs from the town's Rowley collection of Skipton pictures from the past, where old images could be placed on their modern counterparts.

She is also keen to find ways of attracting people to the lesser known parts of the town.

STP is currently situated in offices off the High Street, but the ultimate aim is to move into Skipton Town Hall, along with Skipton Town Council.

The new chairman of STP, after David Wathen stood down at the end of the first term, is Andrew Mear, owner of High Corn Mill.

Its actions will be decided by a board made up of Robert Bellfield, principal of Craven College; David Smurthwaite, strategic manager, Craven District Council; Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council; Robin Hargrave, Skipton Building Society; a representative of Skipton Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and, representing traders, Richard Trindle and Dave Roberts.

Meetings will take place once a month when Mrs Arber will make recommendations to members, who will then decide what action to take.

STP can be contacted by telephone on 01756 799033 or by email at admin@welcometoskipton.com

its predecessor, STP