A BALLOT is to be held over the future of Keighley Business Improvement District (BID).

The initiative, which was set-up to support town-centre businesses and help attract more shoppers and visitors, is approaching the end of its five-year term.

Normally members would take part in a postal ballot in the scheme’s final quarter – Keighley BID was due to end this December.

But owing to the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis, the Government has allowed an extension until March 31 next year.

Bradford Council’s executive, when it meets next Tuesday, will be asked to agree arrangements for the ballot.

The vote, run by the council’s electoral services department, will be the first renewal ballot of its kind for any BID scheme in the Bradford district

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw – executive member for regeneration, planning and transport, and a member of the Keighley BID board – said: “Keighley BID has achieved some great things for businesses in the town and will be a major component in helping the local economy recover from the damage done by the Covid-19 crisis.

“I am grateful that we are being given more time for businesses to start to recover and to prepare a new business plan, before a ballot is held.”

Paul Howard, Keighley BID manager, said it was “a huge privilege” to work with businesses in the town centre.

He added: “We recognise that we are not in normal times and have been working hard to ensure that businesses have been kept informed and helped to secure grants where appropriate – and we have provided assistance on reopening plans.

“Businesses joining forces and speaking-up for their own area will always achieve greater results than working in isolation and we will shortly be going back to the business community to seek its views on what it would like the next term of the BID to achieve.”

BID is funded through a levy on business rates.

Its achievements during the past five years have included regular events in the town centre and annual activities such as the Christmas lights switch-on, free public WiFi access, the launch of a sound system in Cavendish Street to provide music and announcements, a security radio system linking more than 120 businesses, the introduction of a Keighley Business Club, refurbished signage in pedestrian areas, town-centre guides and floral displays.