Making BID for better town centre outlook

High Street, Carluke'26/2/13
High Street, Carluke'26/2/13
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CARLUKE Town Centre could receive a £100,000 upgrade annually between 2014 and 2018.

But funding will depend on how local business folk and other non-domestic ratepayers vote in a postal ballot scheduled for November.

They will be asked whether or not they’d support Carluke becoming a Business Improvement District (BID).

It is rated by the local Steering Group as “a worldwide phenomenon based on an American/Canadian model which is aimed at allowing businesses to invest together for the town centre’s benefit”.

Carluke BID Steering Group believes that money – from sources including the Windfarm Community Benefit Fund – could potentially bring attractions including a farmers’ market, classic car show, photography exhibitions, jazz band performances and floral displays, to Carluke.

“This is an opportunity for Carluke people to bring about change,” said Steering Group member Chris Parkin of The Rural Development Trust.

“It is up to them to decide but the Steering Group has done a lot of work putting together a package which we think would be successful.”

Fellow Steering Group member Jim McInally told the Gazette that a poor choice of shops, lack of car parking spaces, low footfall numbers and the closure of Haldanes supermarket at the bottom of High Street were all concerns for town centre business owners.

Jim said that workers using Carluke car parks for ‘park and ride’ was hitting town centre trade, as it reduced parking spaces available for would-be High Street shoppers.

A ‘Yes’ vote in the November poll would see Carluke businesses potentially paying a minimum of £100 annually for their chance to be included in an upgrade project which would start in 2014.

Jim, who has worked in town centre projects for 13 years, oversaw a highly successful scheme in Dunfermline in 2001 which has since resulted in £400,000 a year being spent on its town centre.

“The important social function that town centres play shouldn’t be underestimated,” he said.

Also on the Steering Group is Martin Hannah, owner of indoor children’s soft play business The Bubbles Factory in Hamilton Street. Martin said he felt Carluke becoming a BID would be brilliant as “one business voice can’t bring about changes but a group of us together certainly can”.

There are currently 18 active BIDs in Scotland with a further 16 in development.

Come November, we’ll find out if Carluke is added to the list of BID towns...when locals will be asked for their opinion.

Chris stressed that the BID initiative was being considered in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council.

Any BID money spent on Carluke Town Centre as a result of a Yes vote wouldn’t overlap into funding council services like street cleaning or lighting.

CRAIG GOLDTHORP