THE CAMPAIGN to gain support from Keighley firms for a Business Improvement District in the town has begun in earnest.

Keighley Town Centre Association has now published a business plan setting out the case for creating a BID to boost the local economy.

The plan details how £1 million of new funding would be spent over the next five years attracting shoppers and visitors.

All businesses within the BID zone will be asked to vote yes or no in a ballot running from October 5 until November 12, with an announcement soon afterwards.

If the proposal is approved, every business with a rateable value higher than £6,000 will have to pay a levy on top of their annual business rates.

But the money would be ploughed back into town centre projects addressing priorities such as marketing and promotion, safety and security, ease of access for visitors, and business support.

The BID area covers a town centre area bordered by Damside, Morrisons supermarket, the railway station at Keighley Campus, Emily Street and the former Peter Blacks premises in Lawkholme, and Surenes Road in lower Highfield.

The business plan has been sent to all firms in the zone of the past fortnight, highlighting priorities identified during consultations.

Keighley town centre manager Philip Smith said: “Business Improvement add to the town centre experience and drive up footfall and town centre usage.

“This is expected to be five years of revenue investment to get the town as active, attractive and safe as possible to boost business.”

Mr Smith said that in the business plan several Keighley businesses described what they would like to see happen in the next five years.

He added: “Keighley Town Centre Association has helped to co-ordinate the work. It has also benefitted from the advice of national business chains.”

Councillor Abid Hussain (Lab, Keighley Central) whose ward includes the BID zone, said it was good that the project would distribute money to support and develop businesses.

But he said: “We need to make sure all the shops are active in the town centre. It’s no good spending the money if shops are empty.”

Keighley town mayor Javaid Akhtar said that anything that increased business activity in Keighley was welcome.”

He added: “I would welcome car parking deals and relaxation of rules. Short-term parking needs to be increased to an hour so people have time to go to the shops.”