A final appeal is being made to all businesses who haven’t yet voted in the Skipton Business Improvement District (BID) renewal ballot to make sure they make their YES vote count before next week’s deadline.
The BID board has warned that failure to get a YES vote in the renewal ballot will have a huge negative impact on the town.
Businesses and organisations across Skipton say the BID is vital to keep Skipton as a thriving and successful town for everybody.
And that can only happen if the levy payers vote YES in the ballot, which finishes next Thursday (February 7) at 5pm.
BID manager and board member Geraldine Thompson said: “We have ambitious plans to build on the great work we have done over the past ten years – but we can only do that if we get a yes vote.”
Skipton was one of the first towns in the north to set up a BID in 2009, and it has invested £1.5m in the town since then.
A YES vote would see a further £800,000 unlocked to invest in three key areas – Visit Skipton, Business Support, and Attractive and Clean.
Since it started ten years ago, the BID has set up and runs the Visit Skipton website, operates the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership, restored CCTV cameras to the town, provides the majority of funding for Skipton In Bloom, helps businesses seeking grants, helps fund the town ambassadors, and operates the Best Bar None scheme for licensed premises.
It also provides funding for Skipton Christmas Lights and the switch-on ceremony, as well as many of the festivals and events that bring thousands of people into Skipton every year, including the Christmas Markets, the Waterways Festival, the Skipton International Puppet Festival, Sheep Day, and the Skipton Cycle Races.
Without the BID, the future of many of these events and the continued funding of the ongoing investment in the town would be at risk.
Skipton In Bloom group say it would severely impact the work they can do around the town.
The people behind the Waterways Festival and the Skipton International Puppet Festival have both said these events would not happen without BID support.
And most recently, BID support has been vital for the success of the biggest ever Christmas Lights Switch on event the town has seen, as well as the continued presence of the lights themselves around the town.
Kerry Wheelwright, events and tourism manager for Skipton Town Council, said after the switch-on: “Without the funding support from the BID, neither this event nor the lights themselves would be possible.”
Businesses including Skipton Building Society, Skipton Castle, the Rendezvous Hotel, Computershare, Tesco, and many, many others have given their support to the BID and urged other levy payers to vote YES.
And organisations including Skipton Town Council, Craven District Council, Skipton in Bloom, Craven College, and Skipton Chamber of Trade have given their support to a YES vote.
Keelham Farm, which opened its large farm shop and restaurant on Gargrave Road in 2015, has added its support to the BID.
Co-owner Victoria Robertshaw said: “Skipton’s reputation as a thriving rural market town with strong links to the farming community goes back for generations which made it the right fit for Keelham.
“Skipton BID has worked hard to support retailers, making sure that customers and visitors enjoy shopping here and to make the town a destination that visitors will return to.
“At Keelham, we’re keen to support the work of Skipton BID to help the local business community and the whole town to continue to thrive for years to come.”
Geraldine urged anyone who has not voted to think about what could be lost to the town, and make sure they vote YES.
“Every vote could make a difference. Look at what could be lost to the town. The funding the BID provides will not come from anywhere else,” she said.
“Let’s not see all the hard work we have done in building up the town together for everyone who lives in the town or works here, or shops or trades or visits here be allowed to go to waste.
“We’ve achieved so much together as a community – and a YES vote for the BID will allow us to continue to keep that community spirit working for the good of Skipton. We are much stronger as a town when we work together.”
**Anyone who has not had a ballot form and believes they should have had one, or who has had one but has lost or damaged it, still has time to make their vote count.**
Votes must reach the offices of the Electoral Reform Services in London by 5pm on Thursday 7 February.
The result will be announced via social media and our Blog on Friday 8 February.