• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

North East Connected

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TWO, business-boosting events, showcasing Darlington fashion and food, are set to make a welcome return this spring.

But they will only go ahead if businesses in the town centre vote ‘yes’ for the continuation of the BID, when its contract comes up for renewal this month (Feb).

The fourth annual Distinctly Delicious Festival of Food, which shines a light on the town’s independent food producers, will take place on 13 and 14 May.

And organiser, Distinct Darlington, plans to build on the success of last year’s inaugural Darlington Fashion Week, when models took to a giant outdoor catwalk to showcase high street and designer outfits, with a repeat event in June.

Thousands flocked to the town centre for each event, with footfall up by almost eight per cent on the previous year during Fashion Week and up 6.4 per cent year on year during the food festival weekend.

Both events are part of a five-year plan to boost the town as a leisure and retail destination and Alex Hirst, manager at Distinct Darlington is urging voters to give the BID the mandate to continue its work.

“The Food Festival and Fashion Week not only brought thousands of extra visitors into the town centre but also raised the profile of the town’s food producers and clothing retailers, with many reporting an increase in trade whilst the events were on” she said.

“We now need to build on that success and the success of other BID initiatives, such as The Little Book of Offers and that is why we are urging businesses to vote ‘yes’ in the coming ballot.”

Other features of the five-year plan are the promotion of Darlington’s night time economy and the use of collective purchasing power to get better deals for businesses.

Also in the pipeline are plans for schemes such as the highly successful Alive After Five promotion introduced by Newcastle’s BID and the extension of Distinct Darlington’s first Bar and Restaurant Week, held for the first time last year.

“We have some exciting plans to really help put the town on the map but we can only carry them out with the support of the businesses in Darlington, so we are urging them to vote yes,” said Alex.

The ballot for the continuation of the BID opens on 9 Feb and runs until 9 March, with the outcome revealed on 10 March.