Renewal of Royston First Business Improvement District is ‘essential’


A retail manager in Royston has described the renewal of the Business Improvement District (BID) as “essential”, ahead of a voting process which opens next week.

Ballot papers will be issued to businesses in the town on or by next Thursday, January 9, for them to decide whether to continue with the BID company, Royston First, for a further five years.

The BID was set up in 2009 to help promote and support businesses in the town, with Royston companies funding the scheme through an extra tax added to business rates.

Lisa Thompson, manager of Stationary Cupboard and head of retailer group Royston Means Business, said: “The BID has helped us as a business as we wouldn’t have been able to run the events we have had without the financial support they have given us. It’s essential the town moves forward with things like the revitalisation of Royston High Street.

“We need to make the High Street more attractive and fill the empty shops.

“I think there has been a mixed reaction to the BID. Some may feel they are not reaping the benefits, but I think without the BID the town would be in a much worse state. We need to regenerate the town.”

Town council members voted unanimously to back the renewal of the BID in November and Cllr Robert Smith, Royston town mayor, said: “Since the BID was set up there have been many successful projects including improved security, town centre promotion, retail environment enhancements, the support of many community schemes and the big one which has been providing a new community cinema, The Royston Picture Palace, at Royston Town Hall.

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“It is vital to ensure the good work of the project continues as we have a very exciting programme coming up. The headline project I suppose is the revamping of the High Street.”

Royston town centre manager Geraint Burnell, a member of the Royston First BID renewal team, said: “The first BID term was proposed as the only known way to attract additional funding to the town and it remains so today. We will have delivered 15 initiatives – out of 16 proposed – by the end of the first BID term and we propose 26 for the second term.

“It is up to the businesses of Royston to decide whether or not they want to see this happen.”

New measures introduced could include promoting town events on electronic information signs, financial support in dressing empty shop windows and the continuation of the free-after-3 parking scheme.

Ballot papers must be returned by 5pm on February 6, before an announcement is made the following day.