In the same week Westminster was making the most important decision for the nation since the War, Lanark faces a choice that could also shape its whole future.
From now until the end of next month all businesses in the town will be able to vote for or against the Royal Burgh becoming a ‘BID’ town.
Being a Business Improvement District would mean every shop, office and business premises all paying into a single pot for general upgrading of the town centre.
The campaign to promote a “Yes” vote to BID is being led by the Discover Lanark arm of the town’s Community Development Trust which has produced a Business Plan for the burgh. This shows how the million pounds it claims BID will free up for the town’s improvements will be spent. As its ballot opened this week, it was claiming growing local support.
The latest well-known businesses to come on board are I A Stewart Chartered Accountants, based in New Lanark and John Frood and Sons Plumbers whose premises are in the Wellgate.
Alan Kerr from I A Stewart said: “Our company is pleased to support the Discover Lanark initiative, we believe the BID will bring tangible improvements to the town, working with New Lanark Heritage Site has the potential to substantially increase the number of people visiting Lanark, which can only be good for local trades.”
Heather Normand from John Frood and Sons said: “There have been a number of slow but steady improvements to Lanark over the last few years, I am confident the BID will move these improvements up a gear and will be the start of making Lanark a better place to live.”
Discover Lanark Project Manager, Gary Winning is currently trying to meet up with as many voters as possible in the run-up to the ballot.
He said: “Most small business owners are incredibly busy and may not have had time to fully digest our business plan. There has been some confusion regarding how much businesses pay and who will be exempt from paying the levy. The amount you pay is directly linked to your premises’ rateable value – 12 levy bands have been assigned starting at £150 per year if your rateable value is between £2,500 - £4,999 increasing to £3,500 for properties with a rateable value over £500,000.
Premises exempt are businesses with a rateable value under £2500, places of worship and associated halls, sport and community clubs, non- retail charities and foodbanks.