Skipton Business Improvement District (BID) has been given a resounding YES in the ballot to decide whether it would be given a third five-year term.
Levy-paying businesses in the town overwhelmingly backed the BID, with more than 82 per cent voting in favour of renewal.
The news means £800,000 of funding will be released to spend on projects and events to enhance and improve Skipton and help it continue to thrive.
And it will allow the BID to look at new initiatives and projects including taking on the lead in tackling the eyesore railway bridges on the way into town and setting up a new toolkit to provide levy-paying businesses with whatever help they need.
BID manager Geraldine Thompson said: “This is a brilliant result for the BID, but more importantly, a brilliant result for Skipton.
“We can now continue with the work we have already done over the past ten years to ensure our town is one of the best to live in, work in, do business in, and visit.
“We’re very grateful for the confidence levy payers have shown in us – and are very aware that we now have to show we deserve that confidence.”
82.6 per cent of those BID levy payers who took part in the ballot voted in favour of renewing the BID.
The businesses voting in favour represented 91.36 per cent of the total rateable value of those taking part.
Geraldine paid tribute to everyone who has helped with the successful YES vote campaign over the past few months.
“All the businesses, volunteer groups, organisations, and individuals who have given their support to us has been overwhelming,” she said.
“It has shown just how many different areas we have had an impact in during our first ten years. We’re now looking forward to connecting with even more people over the next five years.
“I’d also like to thank the Craven Herald for its tremendous support – the paper has really understood how important the BID is for everyone.”
She said with the help of the Herald, the BID had worked extremely hard to get across its message – and to make people fully aware of the work it has done since it was set up in 2009.
Now, though, she said, the real hard work gets underway, with even more exciting projects and initiatives planned for the next five years.
The first part of that work, though, will involve a lot of administration to wind up the old BID and set up the new third term one.
“Although some things will remain in place, in many ways it’s like setting up a brand-new BID,” Geraldine said.
“We need to do new service level agreements with Craven District Council and Skipton Town Council to agree where their responsibility ends and where ours starts.
“We also need new service agreements for other things, like the Christmas Lights and the Town Ambassador scheme.
“With regards to the work of the Crime Reduction Partnership, we need to do a lot of work to ensure it is reaccredited in line with updated standards set nationally by the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC).”
The NBCC was set up by the Home Office to coordinate and improve partnerships between business and the police like the Crime Reduction Partnership.
She said these jobs are likely to take up the next couple of months.
“Then we can start to look at new projects and enhancing existing events,” she said. “We hope one of the first things we can do is get things moving to do something about the state of the railway bridges on the way into town.
“The BID will work with other partners in doing all we can to make sure something is finally done about these eyesores.
“We also want businesses to tell us what they’d like to see in our new Business Toolbox. We have money allocated for that, but we need to know what our levy payers want to see included in it.
“That has to be a two-way street. We need businesses to engage with us and to attend regular meetings, and tell us how we can help them.
“We want to get the message out to all levy-paying businesses. It’s yourmoney and it’s your BID. We need your input going forward.”
Since it was founded in 2009, 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 Waterway Festival, the Skipton International Puppet Festival, and Sheep Day.