Council backs King's Lynn business group for new term
"The question isn't why would we, but why wouldn't we support this?"
That was the message from West Norfolk Council's leader today as the authority threw its weight behind plans to continue the work of a town business group.
Voting is now open to decide whether Discover King's Lynn, which oversees the town's business improvement district (BID) area, should continue operating for a second five year term.
But, although the poll of levy-paying traders does not close until next month, members of the borough council's ruling cabinet backed calls for it to back the group at a meeting this morning.
The authority itself pays around £19,000 in levy contributions and officials estimate the total levy payments could generate more than £1 million of additional funding for town centre projects by 2027.
Council leader Stuart Dark told the session at Lynn's Town Hall that the importance of the organisation had been demonstrated by its support for traders during the coronavirus crisis.
He also praised its plans for the next five years, adding: "The question isn't why would we, but why wouldn't we support this as a council?"
Mr Dark's predecessor, Brian Long, admitted he had been sceptical about the merits of the BID when it was first set up, but argued it has a vital role now.
He said: "The only way we can develop business in this town is by offering more, different, better.
"We can't do that without finding and the BID is one way of doing that."
And property portfolio holder Adrian Lawrence said: "It's served King's Lynn well. Let's keep going."
But questions were raised by some members about how the group would be held accountable for its record and the involvement of local councillors in decision making.
Jo Rust questioned the BID's role with the Town Deal Board, adding: "It does feel that we're not fully able to participate in those decisions about where spending is going to go."
Alexandra Kemp called for more effort to revive the town's weekly market, while opposition leader Terry Parish said the provision of facilities for coach tour parties had been raised during a panel session the day before.
However, deputy leader Graham Middleton said consultations were underway on the provision of premises for pop-up shops – an idea proposed by Mrs Rust.
He said traders that were not satisfied with the BID's record could vote not to give it another term, but argued the involvement of town centre traders in shaping its future was a major positive.
He said: "We've got a really strong core of local businesses getting involved. They're assisting with the transformation of our town and not just sitting back and letting it happen."