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30 June 2013, 06:00
Businesses in Sunderland are being asked what they think of plans to introduce a 'Business Improvement District' to the city.
The 'BID' would see investment of at least £3.4m over the next five years.
Ballot papers are being posted out to all 454 eligible voters and businesses have until 5pm on 18th July 2013 to return their vote.
They will decide whether to invest together to make the city centre a cleaner, brighter, safer place with more events, marketing and promotion and a vibrant evening economy.
Copies of the BID Business Plan have been delivered to all city centre businesses.
The plan is based on extensive consultation over the last six months with businesses from all sectors, including pubs, restaurants, retailers, professional services, taxi drivers, creative industries and service providers.
The top priorities for businesses are a more attractive and safe city centre, along with encouraging people to visit more often, stay longer and spend more while they are here.
Andy Bradley, Chair of the BID Steering Board and Centre Director of the Bridges Shopping Centre, told Capital:
"The Sunderland BID is a private sector initiative driven by businesses for businesses.
During all the consultation events businesses have been incredibly enthusiastic about the BID plans and are excited about the positive impact it would have in the city.
We need everyone who has shown support so far to get behind the BID and vote yes in the ballot."
The Sunderland City Centre BID proposal was initiated by Sunderland Business Ltd. This not-for-profit company was founded, and is now led, by leading City businesses and organisations who want to help tackle some of the challenges facing the City and create positive opportunities for local businesses.
BELOW: The area of Sunderland the BID plans will serve