THE INITIAL success of Keighley BID marks a step change in the fortunes of the town centre, claims a top-level council report.

The pioneering initiative, which aims to attract more visitors and shoppers to Keighley, is having a positive effect on profits for shops and other businesses.

BID – the Business Improvement District – organised a host of events which doubled the number of town centre visitors.

The events’ attractions sharply increased the time people remained in the town and encouraged families to spend an average of £35 each in local shops.

Since BID began, the number empty units in the town centre has dropped from 12.6 per cent to 9.64 per cent, lower than the national average of11.1 per cent.

And Keighley companies have already saved £12,000 on their business costs due to the “phenomenal” buying power of the 100 BIDs across the UK.

The figures were revealed in a report on Keighley regeneration projects, discussed at the latest meeting of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The report outlined several BID projects, which include a campaign to encourage people to buy from independent shops, a networking club for the office and commercial sector, and an expansion of the Townlink Radio system to help shops and police deter shoplifters and troublemakers.

The BID, which is run by Keighley businesses with support from Bradford Council, spends cash raised through a levy on local business rates.

The report stated that although Keighley BID was only two years into its five-year programme, it was already likely businesses would vote for a second term.

The report said “The primary objective is a good result for businesses in central Keighley, hopefully with some spin-off for other businesses outside the boundary. If this can be achieved, Keighley must pursue the path taken in other successful districts through a further ballot on a business plan for a further term.”

Keighley BID chairman Graham Benn, who runs DIY Solutions on Cavendish Street, said positive feedback from the majority of town-centre businesses reflected the findings of the “glowing” council report, and added: “I think members of the BID have started to see the benefits over the last 12 months and hopefully it will grow.”

Meanwhile, in Bradford, a number of local business leaders have formed the Bradford BID Development Group, to investigate the possible creation of a Business Improvement District.