No BID for town as majority reject proposal

A section of Bridge Street in Morpeth town centre.
A section of Bridge Street in Morpeth town centre.

A Business Improvement District (BID) will not be introduced in Morpeth as the No campaign was successful.

A postal ballot proposing the introduction of a company established and run by the business community to deliver initiatives that improve the town ran for a few weeks and it closed yesterday.

BIDs are funded by a compulsory levy and the Morpeth proposal was for the levy to be 1.4 per cent of a business’ ratable value, paid annually.

The area for it would have gone from the top of Newgate Street in the north to Morpeth Railway Station in the south and from the riverside at High Stanners in the west to Low Stanners in the east.

The result of the ballot was announced this afternoon – of the 221 votes cast, 78 were in favour and 143 were against. The turnout from eligible businesses was 58.3 per cent.

The Yes vote was 35.3 per cent of the number of votes cast and 44.6 per cent of the rateable value of votes cast.

To establish a BID, a majority both in votes cast and in rateable value of votes cast was required. As such, a BID cannot be introduced in Morpeth as a result of this ballot.

A count and standard verification procedures were undertaken by UK Engage Ltd, Northumberland County Council’s appointed election agent.

As well as announcing the result online, the council will be writing to all relevant businesses to notify them of the result.

Prior to the ballot, the county council confirmed that it is supportive of BIDs being established where local businesses back them.

Having listened to feedback during the BID’s development, the local authority decided not to participate in the ballot, believing that it was for local businesses to decide.

Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic development and regeneration at Northumberland County Council, said: “I would like to thank every business that took part in the ballot.

“As a council, we are clear that BIDs must be supported by the business community and this ballot result means that a BID won’t be introduced in Morpeth.

“I am very hopeful, however, that the local business community will continue to work together through a range of other means to maintain and build on Morpeth’s strong reputation.”