Ripon firms vote in support of Business Improvement District plan

Ripon traders have voted in favour of turning the city centre into a Business Improvement District (BID).

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 9:03 am
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 10:18 am
Ripon BID will have an annual budget of £160,000 for projects to drive footfall in the city.

BIDs have been set up across the country, including in Harrogate, as a way of creating safer, cleaner and better promoted city and town centres. In Ripon more than 280 businesses within a defined area will contribute to an annual budget of £160,000 for improvement projects.

Of the 87 firms who voted during a ballot held over the last month, 80% (70 businesses) were in favour.

A group of city leaders have been working on the plans since 2019 and will generate £800,000 over five years through an extra levy on top of business rates.

The BID has already won the support of Harrogate Borough Council which has agreed to lend £20,000 for start-up costs and will contribute around £30,000 over the five year period as a levy payer.

Councillor Graham Swift, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development of the council, has welcomed the official formation of the BID which he said will allow businesses to "take control of their own destiny".

He said: "I am very supportive of BIDs - they allow small and medium sized businesses in tightly defined geographical areas to raise funds for specific things that impact them the most.

"Ripon is an area which relies on tourism and hospitality, so getting footfall in the city centre and surrounding areas will be crucial.

"Despite being one of the smallest cities in the country, Ripon has some of the most impressive and best places to visit. It is extremely well-placed to take advantage of being a location to see fantastic history and architecture.

"BIDs are only successful when they have a clear plan... and Ripon BID have created a fantastic prospectus which clearly demonstrates what they are trying to achieve."

Now firms have voted in favour of the BID, a limited company will be set up with 10 directors drawn from the business community to manage the funds.

Those who have already expressed strong support for the plans include Abacus Smarter Accountants, Specsavers, Office Ally, G Craggs Ltd and Sterne Properties, as well as other organisations including Ripon Community House, Ripon Museums Trust and Ripon City Council.

A business plan was launched earlier this year and set out the BID's priorities including street cleansing and maintenance, festivals and events, car parking, toilets, landscaping and tourism.

In a statement included in the plan, Richard Compton, BID chairman and owner of Newby Hall, said the city had the potential to become "one of Yorkshire’s great success stories".

He said: "I believe Ripon can emerge strongly from the huge challenges presented by the Covid pandemic. Our unique local retail and leisure businesses have weathered much of the storm finding new ways of working and collaborating.

"We have so much to offer and as we perhaps see the light at the end of the tunnel, all of the city’s businesses need a plan to boost the place, for the benefit of all those who shop, live, work and visit our stunning city."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter