BUSINESSES in and around the centre of Taunton could soon be asked to pay an annual levy to boost trade in the town.

If companies agree to create a Business Improvement District (BID) area, it would raise hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to fund initiatives to lure people into the town to spend their money.

Taunton Chamber of Commerce has held talks in recent months about reintroducing a BID to revitalise the town centre.

It is appealing for business representatives to join a working group ahead of an initial meeting on Tuesday, May 21 and an official launch for businesses in the proposed BID area next month.

A BID scheme was run in Taunton until the summer of 2012, when members voted not to renew it.

They also voted to reject it in early 2014, despite the fact it would have raised £1.3million over five years to boost trade in the town.

The chamber says there is strong support from business in Taunton for a new BID scheme after independent BID consultants Destination Management and Marketing carried out a feasibility study.

The study examined what areas should be included in a BID, which would be in place for five years, and a range of business leaders were asked for their views and priorities.

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SUPPORTING THE BID: Chamber president Nigel Pearce, who hopes to see the scheme introduced in Taunton

Nigel Pearce, president of Taunton Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are entering a huge period of change in the town - we have garden town status and a newly merged district council, with a new executive team and elected members.

"Now is the time for Taunton businesses to grasp this unique opportunity for change and to make sure that their voices are heard. The BID is an effective and proven way to do this.

"We are looking forward over the coming months to working with businesses in Taunton to make sure we put together an effective and deliverable plan that will give Taunton the status it deserves as a leading centre in the South West for arts, business and inward investment."

The Chamber wants to hear from any business leaders with premises in the town centre who would like to join the Taunton BID working group to shape a plan for a BID scheme, which reflects the views and priorities for businesses.

BID schemes are designed, agreed and paid for by business, for business.

There are more than 300 of them across the UK, in towns, cities, seaside resorts and industrial parks.

Minehead town centre voted for a similar scheme last year and it is already delivering initiatives for the town that are said to be making a real difference.

For more information about Taunton BID contact lucy@destinationmarketing.me

Details about the national BID scheme is available online at www.britishbids.info while information about the successful Minehead BID can be found at www.mineheadbid.co.uk