BUSINESSES in Kendal have voted to support a programme of town centre improvements that will cost them more than £770,000 over the next five years.

Of the enterprises that voted in the Business Improvement District (BID) ballot, 72 per cent said they were in favour of adopting the status.

However, only 43 per cent of the 691 eligible businesses took part in the ballot.

The money raised by the levy – one per cent of a business’s rateable value – is expected to be boosted by a further £100,000 in additional funding over the five-year life of the programme.

The cash will fund activities to market and promote Kendal; improve the appearance of the town; make it easier and more affordable for visitors to access the town centre; and to improve viability through group buying schemes and networks.

A new company will be formed and the money will be invested over the lifetime of the BID, starting from March 2014.

Coun Giles Archibald, South Lakeland District Council’s town centres spokesman, said: “This is great news for Kendal and sends out a strong message to businesses that BIDs help them to collectively enhance trading conditions.

“It’s their money so it’s important that the business community itself decides how it is spent.”

Peter Hensman, chairman of Kendal Futures, which led the BID project, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news and will ensure that Kendal can enjoy an even brighter future. “This is an exciting opportunity to have direct input into the future of our town and do something to really make a difference.”

Chris Kolek, Kendal BID co-ordinator, said: “This successful vote shows the extent to which businesses in Kendal town centre are committed to working together to achieve the best possible outcomes.

“It will allow us to deliver the improvements the businesses of Kendal are telling us they need most. The BID will help Kendal become an even stronger force to be reckoned with.”

Simon Thomas, owner of Staff of Life Bakery, said: “The BID is an amazing opportunity to work together with traders as a major voice for businesses in the town centre.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, who voted in favour of the BID because his constituency office is in Kendal town centre, said: “This overwhelming vote in favour is fantastic news for Kendal.

“I genuinely believe that putting Kendal’s business owners in control of local business initiatives will ultimately lead to a more competitive and commercially attractive town centre.”

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