MORAY councillors have given their backing to a scheme that aims to boost trade in Elgin town centre.
Members of Moray Council’s economic development and infrastructure services committee were this week asked to continue their support of the Elgin Business Improvement District (BID) initiative.
A first ballot of businesses in the Elgin BID area took place in November 2009, and from a turnout of 45%, 75% voted in favour of the scheme.
That vote allowed Elgin BID, which charges a fee to its member businesses, to establish itself for five years.
A second ballot, to give BID a mandate for the next five years, is scheduled to take place in November 2014.
At Tuesday's meeting, members of the economic development committee spoke in support of much of what has been achieved by Elgin BID.
Committee chairman Councillor John Cowe (Independent for Heldon and Laich) said BID had been "highly successful".
According to the council’s numbers, Elgin BID events – which have included a Music Mania day, winter food and drink festivals, and fashion shows – have attracted an estimated 100,000 people into the town centre.
St Giles Shopping Centre’s footfall increased by between 15% and 40% on the days BID hosted an event, according to the figures, while many local shops reported an increase of up to 20% in their annual business.
So far, the Elgin BID levy has generated more than £850,000. It has also attracted additional outside investment of £5 million.
The scheme has come at a cost to the local authority, however.
The council agreed in August 2009 to provide £49,000 annual funding for the cost of a BID manager and overheads, which allowed all levy payments from businesses to be invested in projects and services.
In addition, the council agreed in-kind contributions of office accommodation and some assistance with administration, which was provided at the start-up and was later financed by the Elgin BID.
It was highlighted at this week’s meeting that if the scheme was supported again, a funding contribution from Moray Council of £36,000 per year would likely be sufficient.