BUSINESS leaders seeking to boost the fortunes of Bradford city centre have welcomed a report which shows a similar scheme in neighbouring Keighley is having a positive impact.

The town’s Business Improvement District (BID) has only been running for two years but it has been so successful that it is likely businesses will vote to renew it after its five-year term ends.

Ian Ward, chairman of the Development Group which is hoping to set up a BID in Bradford, said: “This is excellent news for Keighley and helps to demonstrate exactly why we feel a BID can have a big impact in Bradford city centre. There are almost 300 BIDs in the UK and the experience of Keighley has been mirrored in the vast majority of them.

“The Keighley BID is doing a brilliant job and has already achieved a great deal in just in two years so we’re sure a Bradford BID could be a real game-changer for the city.”

The early success of the Keighley BID was revealed in a report on initiatives in the town discussed at the latest meeting of Bradford Council’s regeneration and economy overview and scrutiny committee.

It said the BID had organised a number of events which had doubled visitors to the town and sharply increased the amount of time people spent there, with families being encouraged to spend an average of £35 each in local shops. Since the BID’s launch, empty units in the town centre had dropped from 12.6 per cent to 9.64 per cent, lower than the national average of 11.1 per cent and Keighley companies had already saved £12,000 on their business costs due to the “phenomenal” buying power of BIDs across the UK. A feasibility study into setting up a BID in Bradford last year found that 70 per cent of respondents were in favour, with 22 per cent undecided. A draft Business Plan is now being drawn up and will be taken out to consultation among the 600 businesses in the proposed BID area before a ballot in the autumn. If the BID is successful, an annual BID levy will generate about £2.5 million over the five-year term to help promote the city centre, encourage investment, improve security and cleanliness and attract more visitors.