Despite the majority of voting businesses in Galashiels being in favour of implementing a business improvement district (BID) scheme in the town, the plan has been rejected.
To be successful, the majority of the businesses had to be in favour – and 105 (71%) of those which cast a vote indeed were in favour – but the majority also had to me measured by rateable value, and this is where the BID scheme – in which businesses would have attempted to pool their resources to improve the town’s fortunes – fell short.
When the votes were counted in this way, £1.82m voted in favour – representing 38.7% of the vote – while £2.9m voted against, representing 61.3%.
These figures suggest that the votes from the big chains in the town, those with a larger footprint, were key to the failure of the bid.
Ballot papers were distributed to eligible persons in October and the votes were opened and counted on Friday, November 30. A total of 147 votes were cast, representing a 43.75% turnout.
Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “While it is disappointing to hear that Galashiels has chosen not to go ahead with a Business Improvement District for the town, we understand the pressures businesses and shops are currently under and the tight budgets they need to work to. I would pay tribute to the very significant efforts made by Energise Galashiels, and particularly the strong leadership provided by Craig Murray and his hard-working team.
“This is not the result they would have wished for, but they should be proud of the personal contribution they have made to the future of Galashiels.”
A disappointed Mr Murray told us: “I’m afraid I’m not in a position to make a formal statement at this time.”
Mr Rowley said it was not the end of the road for the town’s regeneration.
He added: “Despite this setback, there are a number of exciting projects being taken forward in Galashiels to regenerate the town, including streetscape improvements and the Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre, which will kickstart delivery of the Galashiels Masterplan.
“The council recognises the importance of town centres, regardless of whether they introduce a BID or not, and we will provide appropriate support to ensure Galashiels has a bright future. Alongside other partners, including Energise Galashiels, we now have an important role to play to help lead the town in ensuring its successful regeneration is achieved.”