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Reaction to Morpeth BID ballot result

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

Both sides in the Morpeth Business Improvement District (BID) ballot have reacted to the result.

As revealed yesterday, there were 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.

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, within a town centre area.

David Muse of Morpeth Motaparts, spokesman for the No to the BID campaign, said: “We fought this BID in the cafés, we fought it in the barbers, we fought it in the shops and in the solicitors, we fought it in the bars the florists and the newsagents, we fought it in the streets and we fought in on social media.

“Never in Morpeth’s recent history have we seen such a levy put on so many, by so few.

“That’s my tongue-in-cheek answer to our recent campaign, but in all honesty I have never seen such relief and gratitude being shown in the faces of those traders who supported the campaign that we have seen since the result was declared.

“This town is phenomenal, as are other close towns including Hexham, Blyth and Alnwick.

“We all suffer from the same problem of parking, or lack of it, with punitive parking fines when shoppers and staff can least afford it.

“If there is any light to be seen from the embers of this proposal, it is that many businesses have been drawn together by a unified fight and I would personally like to applaud all of those who helped in bringing a common sense result to such a divisive campaign.

“I would also like to thank the county council for not using its votes and the town council for only using one vote, thus making it a town centre business vote in principle.”

“Many thanks to all who voted as they thought correct and democracy has triumphed yet again.”

A statement from the Morpeth BID Steering Group included the following: ‘We were disappointed with the result of the ballot, but fully respect the No outcome.

‘The BID board will reflect on the result as, no doubt, will those businesses and partner organisations in the town.

‘We know there were mixed views from businesses throughout the engagement process and this BID proposal has probably received more scrutiny than most BIDs due to the failure of the Hexham BID, which occurred during the Morpeth BID consultation and development process.

‘This has had a significant, negative impact on the way the proposal was received.

‘Every effort was made to alter the BID proposal to address the concerns of those smaller businesses, through an extensive engagement process, but it appears that the changes were not enough to gain their support.

‘We still believe there are many businesses that want to collaborate and commit resources to make Morpeth an even more successful town and this provides a level of momentum and an opportunity to move forward.

‘Indeed, at a recent meeting held by the town council, those representatives from the No campaign were clear that they supported most of the aspirations and projects in the Business Plan and Prospectus, but were against a compulsory levy.

‘The Chamber of Trade, we hope, will continue to work with its limited resource pot and do the best it can to deliver initiatives that benefit the town.

‘However, the challenges have been made all too clear and we are now looking to the No campaigners to deliver their alternative.’