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BID success will be dependent on bold measures
6:00pm Thursday 31st October 2013 in Opinion
ALTHOUGH the ballot to establish a Kendal Business Improvement District (BID) was successful, it cannot be said to have given the scheme a ringing endorsement.
Of the 691 businesses eligible to vote, only 43 per cent actually did so - and, of these, nearly 30 per cent rejected the BID proposal.
It could be argued, of course, that local authorities have been elected on lower turnouts - this is a democratic reality we tend to accept with weary resignation.
In any event, the validity of the Kendal BID ballot cannot be questioned because it was carried out perfectly legally and even those town centre businesses that opposed it must, therefore, accept the result.
What they would not have to accept, however, is if the BID fails to deliver what it promises.
After all, these enterprises will be paying a levy on their business rates to fund the scheme over five years and they should rightly expect value for money.
If they don’t get this, the BID is unlikely to be renewed in 2019.
This happened in Keswick when businesses voted against a second BID term.
Some of them claimed the levy had turned out to be just another tax from which they got little or no discernible benefit.
Those running the Kendal BID should take heed to avoid the scheme being seen as just an expensive gimmick.
And one of the ways they can do this is by taking real practical steps to make the town centre genuinely attractive and accessible. In this regard, perhaps the greatest challenge facing the town is parking.
Currently, Kendal is anything but attractive to people who choose - or are forced - to travel to the town by car.
Out of the £770,000 levy to be collected over the next five years, consideration should be given to spending a sizeable chunk of it on reducing the cost and availability of parking, including allowing or creating many more free on-street spaces.
Only by adopting such bold measures will the BID stand any chance of success.
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