Cafe boss backs Sunderland business campaign

June Clark owner of Serendipity Tea Rooms, Frederick Street, Sunderland, is backing the Business Improvement District initiative.

June Clark owner of Serendipity Tea Rooms, Frederick Street, Sunderland, is backing the Business Improvement District initiative.

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CAFE owner June Clark hopes city centre businesses will serve up a bright new future.

June, who runs Serendipity in Frederick Street, hopes her neighbours back plans for a new Business Improvement District (Bid) in the heart of Sunderland.

Ballot papers have gone out to 450 businesses to vote on a proposal, which campaigners say will provide a massive boost for the city centre.

The Bid would see businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or more pay a levy of 1.5 per cent a year over an initial five-year period.

It could generate about £3.4million to invest in improvements and events to attract people into the city centre.

June’s business is too small to pay the levy, but she is so enthusiastic about the Bid plan that she is planning to show her support in other ways. “I am not going to be paying the levy, so I will be giving up my own time to help,” she said.

June has already volunteered as a Bid ambassador, visiting other businesses in the city centre and explaining the benefits of the scheme.

“It is tough times out there, and town centres have a lot of competition,” she said.

“There is only so much that councils can do. As individuals, we have got to do our bit to bring people into the city centre. I have read the Bid business plan. I know what they are trying to achieve.

“Gateshead are going for a Business Improvement District, Durham and Newcastle already have one – we can’t afford to be left behind.”