Council support for ambitious project

PUBLISHED: 12:32 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2010

TOWN councillors have given overwhelming support to an ambitious project which could see at least £150,000-a-year raised for regeneration schemes in Royston. The Royston First scheme will see the business community pay about 2 per cent more on business ra

TOWN councillors have given overwhelming support to an ambitious project which could see at least £150,000-a-year raised for regeneration schemes in Royston.

The Royston First scheme will see the business community pay about 2 per cent more on business rates to meet the costs of improvement projects.

The town council's finance committee decided on Monday evening to support the scheme - and pay the extra on business rates for its properties.

Town centre manager Geraint Burnell told the committee that the project is moving towards drawing up detailed budgets and a business plan.

This comes after extensive consultation had identified projects key to the regeneration of the town centre and the industrial estate in Orchard Road.

Once the paperwork is completed then the business community will be voting in a referendum to decide whether to pay the extra "rate".

The referendum will be run under electoral rules by North Herts District Council.

If the referendum receives a YES vote then the current Royston Town Centre Forum will probably take over the management of the business improvement district.

Mr Burnell said the idea has already received "wholehearted support" from the district council's Cabinet members.

He told town councillors that its contribution would be used towards the management costs of the project, but he did not anticipate putting a large costs burden on the town council.

Committee chairman Cllr Lynn Berry said the proposals would be "breaking the bank".

Speaking at the committee meeting, Cllr Rod Kennedy said: "It is important that we send a clear message that we support this project.

"It is the only way we will get funding and it is vitally important that we get behind this scheme.

"We have got to look to the future," he said.

The projects to be considered will include the rejuvenation of Angel Pavement, an enhancement of the twice-a-week market; the purchase of additional police patrols on the industrial area and the setting up of a community cinema.

Mr Burnell added the Royston First project would be "an investment for the future".

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