Yes vote for £5m BID to improve Sheffield city centre

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A new project to pump £5m of improvements into Sheffield city centre will launch this summer after a crucial ballot.

Making the city centre busier with more events and marketing, as well as improvements to parking, will be two of the main focuses of the business improvement district.

Businesses have voted on the proposal - which works by imposing a levy on firms with business rates over £40,000 - over the last month.

The result announced yesterday showed that 78 per cent of votes cast were in favour of the five-year scheme.

However turnout was less than half, with 39 per cent of the 500 or so businesses having their say on whether they wanted the BID to go ahead .

James Prince, managing director of John Lewis and BID champion, said that percentage was in line with the national average for such ballots.

He added: “This is a great result for Sheffield city centre.

“Business organisations will now have the resource to work with Sheffield Council to deliver events and implement initiatives detailed in the prospectus.”

TheBID is Sheffield’s second and follows a similar vote in Leeds last week, where the percentage of businesses that voted was 38 per cent.

It aims to take a new approach to regenerating and improving the city centre as the council has less funding to spend on such projects.

Services provided by the council, such as city centre ambassadors, will be protected over the next five years.

Now a new BID board - made up of businesses, residents and other representatives, will be set up by August 1.

A paid BID manager will also be put in place.

Other priorities for improvement - outlined in the BID prospectus - include making the city centre cleaner and safer.

Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, said: “The strength of support from the private sector for the BID sends a very positive signal that businesses in the city centre want to work with partners including the city council to improve the city centre.

“The BID team have done a great job and I look forward to working with them.”