Kingston holds business district vote

Kingston-upon-Thames became the first centre in the UK to invite its business community to vote on whether to set up a business improvement district (BID) this week.

More than 630 business ratepayers, representing 900 premises, have been sent ballot papers on the proposal, which aims to improve the management of the town centre environment in the south London borough.

The legislation covering BIDs in the UK was passed last month. The Kingston vote will take place between 18 October and 15 November. If there are sufficient yes votes, Kingston's BID will be the first to become operational on 1 January 2005. Services under the plan will include more frequent street cleaning, better marketing and traffic alleviation schemes.

Voters are being asked whether they want to pay a one per cent supplement on the rateable value of their premises for the BID, which they would be able to control and manage, to be created.

The vote is being run on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. Barry O'Mahony, lead member for economic development and regeneration, said: "A BID is the logical next step for Kingston, where the relationship between the council and local business has been positive and creative. In partnership, we will continue to deliver quality services that benefit everyone."

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