Positive response to Royston First project

PUBLISHED: 20:01 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:47 11 May 2010

BUSINESS TALK: MP Oliver Heald, John Gourd of Johnson Matthey, which sponsored the launch, and town centre manager Geraint Burnell.

BUSINESS TALK: MP Oliver Heald, John Gourd of Johnson Matthey, which sponsored the launch, and town centre manager Geraint Burnell.

A POSITIVE response has been given to a project aimed at injecting at least £150,000-a-year into Royston. The Royston First scheme gained approval when it was unveiled on Tuesday evening. The idea is for businesses in Royston to pay about 3 per cent more

A POSITIVE response has been given to a project aimed at injecting at least £150,000-a-year into Royston.

The Royston First scheme gained approval when it was unveiled on Tuesday evening.

The idea is for businesses in Royston to pay about 3 per cent more on business rates to meet the costs of improvement projects.

One of the men behind the project, John Balodis, who runs Wooden House Design and Media in John Street, Royston, told The Crow: "There was a real positive reaction and a belief that we are all involved in a common cause."

The scheme was launched at The Automation Partnership in Royston, and attended by business representatives and councillors.

Those attending included Royston's MP Oliver Heald, who said he was "delighted" to see "such an enthusiastic opening response to the proposals".

He said: "The Royston First initiative presents a fantastic opportunity for the town."

The business community in Royston has been circulated with a questionnaire in which it is hoped a plan will emerge.

Once this is in place, a bid can be made for Royston to become a Business Improvement District, a scheme which needs the rubber-stamp of the Government's Department of Communities and Local Government.

Royston councillor F John Smith, the leader of North Herts District Council, said the launch saw a "tremendous show of support" for the project.

"Following the excellent response we have already had from Royston businesses, it is clear the project has the whole community behind it and has the support at all tiers of local government," he said.

"This puts the town in an excellent position to progress with the setting up of its Business Improvement District."

The go-ahead for the project will depend on a referendum later this year, when businesses will be asked to vote on the proposals.

If the scheme is accepted, business will have an important word in projects seen to rejuvenate and improve the area.

These could include projects such as tackling the issues surrounding car parking, and the creation of a community cinema.

Town centre manager Geraint Burnell said: "This was a tremendously encouraging event, with expressions of support and offers of assistance from every direction.

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