‘Re­tail­ers must have their say on city cen­tre plan’

Call to bosses as bal­lot draws to a close

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FAMILY MEMORIES - By David Ewen

AS THE clock ticks down on a scheme to raise mil­lions to im­prove and pro­mote the city cen­tre, busi­nesses across Aberdeen urged more peo­ple to get on board.

The ral­ly­ing cry came less than a week be­fore a his­toric bal­lot on cre­at­ing a Busi­ness Im­prove­ment District closes.

If ap­proved, traders would pay an ex­tra 1% in rates that would be spent di­rectly on Aberdeen rather than put into a na­tional pot.

The bal­lot for Aberdeen’s BID will end on Thurs­day.

If it’s backed, £4 mil­lion would be avail­able for en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ments and mar­ket­ing over five years.

The vi­sion of the Aberdeen Busi­ness Im­prove­ment District (BID) is to make the city cen­tre one of the most “vi­brant, pros­per­ous, safe and at­trac­tive” cities in north­ern Europe.

And one re­tailer said it was a great idea to re­gen­er­ate the city cen­tre.

Shoe shop owner Andrew Begg has al­ready voted “yes” to the BID and said it would be a step in the right direc­tion.

Mr Begg, whose fam­ily started trad­ing in 1866, said: “I think it’s a great idea – any­thing to re­gen­er­ate the city cen­tre.”

The owner of Andrew Begg Shoes on Up­perkirk­gate said he hoped im­prove­ments would be made more quickly – for ex­am­ple, eas­ing pedes­trian move­ment be­tween the Bon Ac­cord and St Ni­cholas Cen­tres.

And he said the levy – which would see him hand over hun­dreds of pounds ex­tra each year – was fair.

Mr Begg added: “The beauty of the BID is that ev­ery­thing is oc­cur­ring on a slid­ing scale.”

BID di­rec­tor David Hal­l­i­day said: “We are now on the home stretch and it is vi­tal that any busi­ness owner that has not filled in their bal­lot does so be­fore it is too late.

“The pro­ject will give city cen­tre busi­nesses a uni­fied voice and the chance to im­ple­ment the changes they feel will make the city thrive.”

Many cities through­out the UK have en­joyed great suc­cess fol­low­ing BIDs strate­gies, in­clud­ing In­ver­ness and Edinburgh.

The BID area stretches from Hol­burn Junc­tion to King Street and from Union Square to Ge­orge Street and busi­nesses in­side this foot­print with a rate­able value of more than £27,500 have been bal­loted on whether they want a BID to go ahead.

At least 51% of vot­ers

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