Why Sunderland businesses should back BID for £3.4million city centre war chest

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IT’S time to back the Bid!

Plans for a new Business Improvement District (Bid) in the heart of Sunderland were unveiled earlier this year.

City Centre Traders' Association chairman, Harry Collinson, pictured filling in his Bid ballot paper at Collinson's Jewllers.

City Centre Traders' Association chairman, Harry Collinson, pictured filling in his Bid ballot paper at Collinson's Jewllers.

Now more than 450 businesses have the chance to vote on a proposal which campaigners say will provide a massive boost for the city centre.

The brainchild of Sunderland Business Ltd, 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, a move business leaders say would generate about £3.4million to invest in improvements and events to attract people into the city centre.

The Bid would also provide a platform to attract funds from other organisations such as the Arts Council and Big Lottery Fund.

Sunderland City Centre Traders’ Association is backing the plan, and chairman Harry Collinson, of Collinson Jewellers, is urging all those receiving ballot papers to vote yes.

“The Business Improvement District plan is an amazing opportunity to move Sunderland city centre – and the businesses in it – forward,” he said.

“I hope everyone will grasp the opportunity that the Bid plan offers us.”

Before a Bid can be established, the scheme has to win the backing of businesses which will pay the levy.

It has to attract support not only of 50 per cent of all businesses voting, but also 50 per cent of the total rateable value of those businesses.

Ballot papers were sent out last week, and businesses have until July 18 to return them.

The plans were laid out at a packed public meeting at Sunderland Minster in February. A business plan has been finalised and an agreement reached with Sunderland City Council on what the authority’s responsibilities will be and what activity the Bid will undertake.

Copies of the business plan have been sent to businesses in the Bid area, including those below the rating threshold to vote, and to head offices of national chains with stores within the boundary.

Details of how the Bid will operate, the area covered and what is planned can be viewed at www.Bidsunderland.co.uk.