Business to vote on improvements to Durham City

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PLANS to raise extra cash to improve the centre of Durham City are being drawn up.

Several businesses are hoping to take advantage of a Government scheme to raise £1million over five years from a levy on business rates within the bid area.

The money will be spent on services over and above those provided by the county council.

Task group member Colin Wilkes said: “Initial consultations are now in, and the main concerns raised are promotion of Durham, cleanliness, and security.

“Taking examples from elsewhere in the country, in Bedford they have a ‘vom squad’, so the council might clean the central area once a day, but the squad can be called in to do specific extra jobs.

“In Rugby, they used their money to pay for a dedicated community support officer for the bid area. Matched funding meant that having paid for one, they got another free.”

The task group is working on the business plan and will vote on it in October.

Mr Wilkes is urging all businesses to get involved. “The vote is going to happen,” he said. “And if it’s in favour, the levy on rates – probably between one and two per cent – will happen.

“All businesses in the area will have to pay it, whether they take part in the vote or not.

“The task group’s message is a clear one, we want as many businesses in the area to have their say in what goes into the business plan, and to take part in the vote on it in October.”

•Details of the bid are available online: www.durhambid.co.uk, or contact Ben Simpson, tel. 383 1898.

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