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Otley businesses urged to back improvement proposals
Otley businesses are being urged to back a scheme that could plough £350,000 into the town.
Otley Town Team describes the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID), where participating businesses would contribute 1 per cent of their rateable value each year, as “potentially the biggest thing that could happen to Otley in a long time”.
The initiative, which would raise £70,000 per year, has already received the support of MP Greg Mulholland, Otley Town Council and Leeds City Council.
If enough of the hundreds of firms within the proposed BID area agree to back the project, the new money could pave the way for everything from staging more town centre festivals and improving lighting to bringing leisure boats back onto the River Wharfe.
Otley Town Team says the whole concept is based around businesses pooling their resources and taking direct action to create more favourable trading conditions to boost the local economy.
They said: “Otley has a number of undoubted assets as a community and as a place to live and work, but there is a growing realisation that additional investment is needed to help the town move forward successfully into the future.
“Otley must adapt to the increasing changes in the way people live, work and spend; online retailing and the increasingly difficult economic times are but two factors.
“Today, the choice for Otley’s businesses is stark. We can either take a reactive and piecemeal approach, reliant on the goodwill of a handful of individual businesses, taking action ad hoc as time and resources allow.
“Or, we can take a proactive and cohesive approach involving the whole business community, where collaboration brings with it the benefits of shared experience and common objectives - and the pooling of resources brings economies of scale.”
The team is holding two meetings, at Otley Town Partnership's office on Mercury Row, next month to put together a steering group and talk to as many businesses as possible about it.
Those meetings take place at 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 5 and Tuesday, February 12 - and Otley Town Team hopes representatives from as many businesses as possible attend.
Mr Mulholland said: “The Otley Town Team's BID initiative is a fantastic opportunity. A successful bid has the potential to have a great impact on Otley by bringing businesses in the town together to make collective decisions on projects and services, to improve trading in the town.
“I would encourage any and all Otley businesses based to attend the meetings. The steering group will provide a foundation from which the initiative will be able to grow to support business, trade and commerce.”
To proceed, the BID initiative will have to receive support from more than half of those who will be asked. The ‘yes’ votes would also have to represent more than 50 per cent of the total rateable value of all votes cast.