Morpeth Town Team and the Business Improvement District (BID) steering board recently held its first two consultation events.
Those behind the initiative delivered a presentation on the concept of a BID, how it was conceived, what it could do for the town and a timeline for its creation.
They stressed that it can only come into existence following a ballot of all businesses within the proposed BID boundary, which is scheduled to take place in January or February 2018.
A BID is a democratically elected organisation within a defined geographical area where a levy is collected based on the rateable value of businesses to be spent on improvements and activities that will benefit the whole area.
Following the presentations, more than 40 business representatives were given the opportunity to ask questions and put forward proposals about the merits of a BID and how it might work.
Those who came along to the Town Hall also took part in workshops to discuss issues.
Morpeth Town Team strategic member John Beynon said the consultation events went ‘extremely well’.
He added: “There were some very frank and robust discussions on the BID, but at least 80 per cent of those attending left the meetings with a positive outlook on all of the benefits a successful outcome can bring to Morpeth.
““The only disappointing aspect is that there has been some negative and incorrect facts put out on social media before the consultation events even took place.
“The next part of the process is to continue meeting and consulting with businesses in the town, and we hope to hold further open events near the end of August.
“Morpeth Town Team has been working on this project for approximately two years and we are all very committed and excited by the fantastic opportunities this scheme could bring to Morpeth.”
During the workshops, there was an overwhelmingly positive view that businesses have a key role to play in developing the town’s economy and attracting more people, spend and dwell time, while making Morpeth a fantastic place to shop, work and visit.
Ideas ranged from improving the markets offer, more events and reducing empty properties to improving the marketing of the town, its transport arrangements and activities for families.
Car parking and the availability of car parking spaces and congestion were raised as critical issues for the town and whilst it was accepted that the BID could not directly solve the lack of car parking spaces, it would be in a position to try to influence the council and transport providers to take the right steps to improve what has become a major challenge for Morpeth and many other market towns.
The BID Steering Group is keen to engage businesses throughout the next few weeks and is looking to get more people involved. Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org and leave their contact details.