Businesses in Maidstone have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a scheme to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town centre, which will generate an income of approximately £2.15m over its initial five-year term.

A BID is a business-led and business-funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area. Of the businesses that voted in the postal ballot which ended on 12 July 2018 77% voted in favour of establishing a Business Improvement District for Maidstone Town Centre.

As a result of the successful BID vote, all businesses will pay a 1.5% levy based on the rateable value of their property, reducing to 1% for those located in one of the three shopping centres – The Mall. Fremlin Walk and Royal Star Arcade. Businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 are exempt.

The BID will fund initiatives around ‘Manage, Promote and Discover’ projects such as street ambassadors, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, events and promotions to promote trade and footfall in the town. All the money is ring-fenced so that it can only be spent by the BID company in the specific BID area.

The BID, which will come into effect on 1 October 2018, was proposed by One Maidstone, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that is dedicated to improving the trading environment in Maidstone. The business plan, which was developed in consultation with the businesses in the BID area and formed the basis for the ballot, determines where the investment will be made.

Ilsa Butler, Town Centre Coordinator for One Maidstone, said: "Over the past year, One Maidstone has been working on a proposal to establish a Business Improvement District for the town centre and we are delighted to have received such an overwhelming mandate for our proposals from businesses in Maidstone.

"Establishing a Business Improvement District will enable Maidstone to meet its full potential as the county town of Kent and deliver projects to enhance the town centre to benefit its businesses, residents and visitors. Businesses have clearly seen the benefits that the BID will deliver and the ballot result is a real endorsement of the business plan we developed."

The successful BID vote sees Maidstone become only the second Business Improvement District in Kent, joining Canterbury, which received BID status in 2014. There are nearly 300 BID areas operating across the country.