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CARMARTHEN looks set to have its own business improvement scheme after “vital” backing from the county council.

Councillors approved a series of recommendations that will help pave the way for the new Carmarthen business improvement district (Bid).

Bid schemes have been credited with boosting the fortunes of towns and cities through events, festivals, and other actions.

John Nash, who leads the Carmarthen Bid steering group, said the council’s support was crucial.

“It’s vital, without a doubt,” he said.

The scheme would raise just over £160,000 per year by levying a charge on members and run for an initial period of five years, subject to confirmation via a postal ballot.

The council backed the proposal at a meeting on November 13th, and will nominate a representative to sit on the Bid company board.

The authority also agreed to collect the Bid levy at no charge for five years, and contribute its share relating to 15 council-owned properties within the Bid zone.

Council leader Emlyn Dole said. “It is something we would like to support fully.”

Carmarthen Town South Cllr Alun Lenny said the town was doing well but that small businesses were suffering from the growth in internet shopping.

“Local businesses need every help they can get,” he said.

Cllr John Jenkins said Bid schemes were a good way of getting traders and councils together.

He said the work of Ymlaen Llanelli – the Bid scheme in his local town – had increased footfall significantly.

“It’s a fantastic way of putting a town centre on the map,” he said.

The Carmarthen Bid’s priorities are improving business profitability, improving parking for businesses and customers, and improving the profile and look of the town.

Member businesses would pay an annual levy equivalent to 1.5% of their rateable value if it’s over £6,000. For a business with a £50,000 rateable value, it would work out at £750 per year.

A five-year plan sets out how the money raised would be spent, although the Bid board would also seek external sources of funding.

One pledge is to fund a town centre ambassador as part of a “croeso cynnes” (warm welcome) initiative, while a loyalty card scheme for shoppers and staff could also be explored.

Mr Nash said a ballot of more than 300 traders and premises would take place in February, prior to a board of directors being appointed.

A previous study, he said, showed that 74% of traders were in favour of the Bid scheme.

Mr Nash also said the steering group needed four more volunteers.

“It could be an estate agent or solicitor – and we would like someone from the transport sector,” said Mr Nash.

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