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Loss of Skipton Business Improvement District 'would be a disaster’
10:00am Friday 20th July 2012 in News
BID chairman David Wathen told town councillors it was essential that Skipton businesses approved another five year term to secure funding for festivals, events and other town improvements.
“My priority is to secure a second term of the BID, the alternative is unthinkable,” he said.
Next year, Skipton businesses will vote on whether they want to commit for a further five years.
If half vote in favour, it will mean all, apart from the smallest businesses, will pay one per cent of their business rates into a pot.
The resulting £700,000 over five years would then be poured back into the town to fund festivals and projects aimed at enhancing Skipton for visitors and residents.
Mr Wathen told Thursday’s full meeting of the council that in the past four years, the BID had helped fund events including the Waterway Festival, Sheep Day, the Queen’s Diamond jubilee celebrations and the Festival of Sport and Culture, held to mark the passage through the town of the Olympic Torch Relay.
It had also paid for information boards in the town car parks, paid for the town ambassadors and commissioned the new website dedicated to the town, iloveskipton.
“Without the BID, that £700,000 would simply not be there and that would be tragic for the economy of Skipton,” he said.
Skipton mayor Coun Wendy Clark said with local government funding so stretched it was vital that the BID continued.
“Without its funding, a significant number of things in this town would not happen and that would be disastrous for Skipton and the vitality of the town,” she said.
She acknowledged it would be difficult to persuade struggling businesses to vote in favour, but the town council would do everything it could to get the message across.
Coun Paul English said Mr Wathen was pushing on an open door with the council and said he couldn’t see anyone not wanting to support another term for the BID. He asked what the council could do to help promote the BID and the work it achieved.
Mr Wathen said the BID name was not the best and that he preferred to think of it as a town partnership with businesses and the town council and with strong links to Welcome to Yorkshire, all working together for the general good of Skipton.
He added that much of the funding came from major businesses, Skipton Building Society, Homeloan Management Ltd, Tesco, Morrisons and the councils, and that all businesses who were required to pay but had not would be chased up because it was not fair for the others.