Knaresborough traders vote against Business Improvement District plan

Knaresborough traders have voted against setting up a Business Improvement District (BID) in a narrow ballot result which goes against other votes held in Ripon and Harrogate.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 10:20 am
Knaresborough town centre. Photo: Charlotte Gale.

Results published by Harrogate Borough Council show that out of more than 300 eligible firms, a total of 153 votes were cast with 73 for and 80 against the BID plans which were proposed by a group of business leaders and backed by the council.

BIDs already exist in Harrogate and Ripon, and aim to create safer, cleaner and better promoted high streets to improve footfall.

However, the Knaresborough plans were met with opposition after being revealed in 2019, with some firms raising questions over how the BID was being proposed and how much of a difference it could have actually made.

One business owner previously said there is already an "incredibly strong community" in Knaresborough, but added the BID had "fractured that feeling".

For the BID to have succeeded, a simple majority of those who vote, representing more than half the total rateable value of all properties, must have been in favour.

The BID would have generated £700,000 in funding over the next five years and seen a limited company set up with 12 directors drawn from the business community to manage the funds.

Those behind the plans had already won the support of Harrogate Borough Council which agreed to lend £27,000 for start-up costs and was able to cast 28 votes in favour despite a plea to let businesses "decide for themselves".

The council was able to cast that many votes because it owns 28 rate-paying properties in the town.

The full ballot results published on Monday show there were three rejected votes.

The ballot was launched last month and ended on October 8.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter