Ambitious business-led proposals to revitalise Paisley are set to become reality after plans for a Business Improvement District in the town centre were voted through.
All firms affected were polled by secret ballot last month on whether to set up the BID, and the results announced today showed 81% of votes cast in favour.
A BID is set up when businesses within a geographical area opt to collectively invest in schemes to improve the area, paid for through a compulsory levy.
The process has been led by Paisley First – a group of local organisations – who produced a detailed business plan showing how the scheme will work.
Copies of that business plan were provided to every firm within the BID boundary – an area stretching from UWS to out to Paisley Grammar School – when the 42-day ballot period started in October.
The new Paisley town centre BID will cover 676 firms, making it the third-biggest of the 25 already running in Scotland, with only Edinburgh and Aberdeen having more.
The BID was supported by Renfrewshire Council and the news has been hailed by council leader Mark Macmillan, when he met members of the steering group today.
He said: “I am delighted that a majority of local businesses have decided to back the BID and have voted in favour of these proposals.
“The new body will be able to provide a strong voice for the local business community and bring forward ideas to boost local trade for the benefit of all.
“The council has ambitious plans of its own for Paisley, as we use the town’s fantastic heritage and cultural offering to transform the town centre in the years ahead, leading up to a bid for UK City of Culture in 2021.
“We look forward to working alongside the BID group throughout will be an exciting few years for the local economy and the town.”
Former MEP Hugh McMahon, chair of the Paisley First Steering Group, added: “Today marks the end of decades of campaigning and lobbying by those who wish to improve Paisley, as a town.
“I would particularly like to thank my fellow steering group members our BID manager Sunil Varu, Councillor Mark Macmillan and his officials for their support, and Derek Mackay, the Minister for Local Government.
“I feel that I must mention the efforts of the late Bill Duncan, the late Ellen Farmer and the late Bob Saunders, who all campaigned tirelessly for a BID for Paisley. They would have been very happy today.
“This successful outcome has come about due to a co-operative effort,by the steering group, the local authority, the Scottish Government and the local MP and MSPs.
“As our steering group will now resign, I issue a challenge to Paisley businesses to get involved in the work of the new board and find suitable candidates to take our work forward.
“I would particularly appeal to young entrepreneurs and business people to come forward with their ideas for a prosperous future for Paisley.”