‘Decline is not inevitable’ as hopes of Keighley…

‘Decline is not inevitable’ as hopes of Keighley town centre revival are voiced

HOPES have been voiced that the launch of a second Keighley Business Improvement District (BID) term – for the next five years – will provide a catalyst for reviving the town centre.

When Keighley BID was originally established, in 2016, it was the first of its kind in the district and helped boost trade and footfall.

But the initiative ended two years ago. Now businesses have voted for the scheme to be resurrected. Of the 300 eligible to take part in the ballot, 118 returns were received – a turnout of 39.33 per cent. Ninety-two votes were in favour.

Under the BID scheme, businesses within a defined area pay an additional levy on top of their business rates to fund extra projects.

The board which runs Keighley BID says that, working alongside Bradford Council and other partners, it will strive with businesses to improve trading conditions in the town.

A £900,000 package of measures is being drawn up which the board says will focus on “making the Keighley area a better place to do business and creating a positive, vibrant experience for people who visit, work and live in the town centre”.

The venture will include marketing Keighley as a destination, and campaigns encouraging people to ‘shop local’.

Also, support will be provided for seasonal events and festivals, plus there will be investment in new planting, banners and signage.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, transport and planning, says: “I’m delighted that businesses in Keighley town centre have voted for another BID.

“The result reflects the hard work of the BID board and will make a huge difference to Keighley town centre.

“We are always keen to support local businesses to deliver on their priorities for the town. The work the BID will undertake, which complements the work of the council, is essential for a thriving economy, boosting business and creating jobs.”

Simon Blondel, chair of Keighley BID, says: “The whole BID team is thrilled with the result of the ballot, which is a strong vote of confidence from businesses in our proposals. We are now looking forward to mobilising Keighley BID in the coming months and driving forward a strong business-led agenda for change and transformation across the town centre.”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore says he is “fully behind” the Business Improvement District model.

He adds: “It really can be a strong vehicle for promoting our town, increasing footfall, creating retail growth and enhancing our local business environment. We have seen this in Ilkley, where a strong BID has served as a massive boost to the town.

“We need to drive growth within our local retail sector and amongst our fantastic small independent businesses. This will involve the Keighley BID team having a robust strategy which puts engagement, collaboration and good communication with all of our businesses – small and large – at its heart to ensure that all feel the benefit, as I know this has not been as good as it could have been in the past.

“I am confident that a transparent, inclusive and results-driven Keighley BID can be a huge success for our town.”

John Grogan, Labour’s Keighley parliamentary candidate, welcomed the ballot result and said work must now start on regenerating the town centre.

He said: “I am delighted that there has been a positive result from the private sector in Keighley to set up a second Business Improvement District.

“There is a now an urgent need to regenerate and revive the town centre. The only way this will happen is by close partnership working between business, Keighley Town Council, Bradford Council and the mayor of West Yorkshire.

“Decline is not inevitable, as places like Halifax have demonstrated in recent years, but there is a lot of hard work ahead.”