Lift-off for Royston First
ROYSTON will benefit from almost £1million of investment after the Royston First Business Improvement District (BID) scheme was given the green light. Businesses in Royston have been voting on the plans for the last month, and the results of the ballot we
ROYSTON will benefit from almost £1million of investment after the Royston First Business Improvement District (BID) scheme was given the green light.
Businesses in Royston have been voting on the plans for the last month, and the results of the ballot were announced on Tuesday.
Sixty-one per cent of those who voted supported the plan, which amounted to 62 per cent when measured by rateable value.
Turn out was a respectable 39 per cent.
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John Gourd, chairman of the Royston First steering group, heralded the result as "fantastic".
Mr Gourd, who works for project sponsors Johnson Mathey, said: "Our extensive consultation obviously helped us create a prospectus that struck a real chord with our local businesses.
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"A 'Yes' vote, even in the face of an adverse economic climate, is an endorsement, from the businesses, of the direction that Royston First has chosen to take."
The scheme will see businesses pay two per cent of the rateable value of their business into a central pot, which will be used to fund projects in Royston.
This will amount to more than £900,000 over the next five years.
Projects suggested so far include a community cinema, extra police patrols, and a shuttle bus between the Orchard Road estate and the town centre.
Royston town centre manager Geraint Burnell said: "Naturally I'm pleased to have achieved a 'Yes' vote after 18 months spent working on the project.
"It is particularly satisfying that we achieved balanced support in terms of both number and size of businesses.
"I am aware that there are strong opinions on how we use this money from next April, and I will certainly be doing my best to ensure that everyone's voice is heard.
"Royston is the first town in Cambridgeshire or Hertfordshire to put together a BID, so in that respect it truly is Royston first."
Royston First will begin operating next April when the first batch of money will be collected. Before then the structure of the company will be finalised, and elections will be held to appoint board members.
Cllr F John Smith, leader of North Herts District Council and a Royston member, said: "Our council has a priority to support our town centres and so we are all in favour of Royston becoming a BID.
"I think it's a very promising result for Royston and I look forward to the achievement of many things which could not have been achieved in the ordinary course of events.
"It reflects great credit on all who have been responsible for the production of the bid."
Chairman of Royston area committee, Cllr Fiona Hill, added: "It was an excellent result and very positive move forward for Royston.
"Thank you to everyone who made it possible.