Voting is now underway to determine the future of the Darlington BID.

Businesses in the town centre have until 9 March to choose to renew Distinct Darlington’s mandate for a further five-year term.

And the company, formed to boost trade and improve the shopping experience for visitors and residents alike, is urging them to vote ‘yes’ – so it can build on its success.

Since it was formed five years ago, Distinct Darlington has attracted thousands of people to the town centre through its annual Distinctly Delicious Festivals of Food, Darlington Fashion Weeks and a Classic Car Show.

It saved businesses over £95,000 on utilities and telecoms in the last three years through group purchasing arrangements and has helped Darlington become the second fastest growing economy in the UK.

It has also established a strong working relationship with Darlington Borough Council which invested £13,800 in parking offers to support town centre business activities over the Christmas period at Distinct Darlington’s request.

In addition, its Little Books of Offers, which encourage consumers into the town centre with a variety of discounts and offer vouchers, have boosted the takings of restaurants, shops and businesses by a massive £307,643.

Now, manager Alex Hirst is urging voters to renew the Darlington BID’s mandate so it can embark on a further five-year plan of growth.

“Among the projects lined up for the future are festivals and events and various rewards and incentives schemes to persuade shoppers to visit Darlington,” she said.

“And we also plan to boost the evening economy with schemes such as the highly successful Alive After Five promotion delivered by Newcastle’s BID and the expansion of our Bar and Restaurant Week.
“The BID is paid for by an annual levy charged to the town centre’s business – which, for many businesses, is the equivalent price of a cup of coffee per day, so we really do provide excellent value for money.

“Voting yes for the BID guarantees a further £1.3m of investment in Darlington town centre over the next five years – without a BID this is lost.

“Another five years would allow us to continue to deliver projects that generate a commercial benefit to the town centre businesses and build on what we have delivered in the first five years,”

The outcome of the ballot will be revealed on 10 March.