UK's first Business Improvement District wins retailer approval
Kingston retailers have voted for an increase in their business rate to pay for improvements to the town.

Kingston upon Thames in Surrey has become the first Business Improvement District (BID) to win the business ballot required before it can levy a local tax to fund town centre improvements. More than 66 per cent of businesses said yes to Kingston First in a postal ballot held from October 18 to November 15.

Kingston First will raise£4 million over five years through a 1 per cent supplement on the Uniform Business Rate, which was broadly welcomed by retailers in the area. John Lewis Kingston managing director Sue Walters said: 'Kingston First is the first UK BID to win a vote and is set to become the first in operation on January 1 next year. It is great to achieve this goal, but even better is the prospect of a more vibrant and attractive town centre, which will enable Kingston to thrive and grow.'

The yes vote will give other BIDs confidence to put their proposals to the ballot. Four other London schemes, Piccadilly/Leicester Square, Borough/Bankside, Holborn and Paddington, are expected to go for a vote in the near future. Plymouth in Devon, Coventry in the West Midlands, Maidstone in Kent and Liverpool in Merseyside are all expected to ballot in the new year.