BUSINESSES in Middlesbrough have said "no" to a Business Improvement District (BID) for the town centre.
The proposed BID - which has been a huge success in places like Hull - would have seen more than 480 town centre businesses each contributing a levy to fund improvement projects and services.
The “yes” voters lost out by a narrow margin - 90 to 98.
The BID would have meant an extra £2.3m being invested in improvements to the town centre over the next five years.
BID is where businesses get together within a specific area to decide what improvements they would like to see around them.
Funding is raised by placing a small levy on the business rates.
The businesses decide how it should be managed and how much to spend on each project.
Business owners in Middlesbrough came up with key priority areas following consultation with the Town Centre Partnership.
Raising the profile of Middlesbrough and encouraging more higher-spending visitors via marketing, advertising and events was among the suggestions.
They also wanted to work with the local authority and the police to ensure the town is cleaner, safer and greener.
Improving and diversifying the offer of the town centre via initiatives such as further pedestrianisation and improving signage was also a priority.
Town centre manager Alan Weston said: “We knew that the BID had support from a lot of partners and town centre businesses but we always knew it would be difficult in such challenging economic times.
“Naturally we are disappointed because we believe, along with many other businesses, that Middlesbrough town centre would have benefited hugely.”
Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for regeneration and economic development, said: “It is disappointing that the opportunity to introduce a BID in Middlesbrough town centre has been declined by businesses.
“A ‘yes’ vote would have been a new opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to bring additional investment to the town centre.
“Nevertheless, we will move forward and look to improve partnership working in the future.
“Middlesbrough town centre is an extremely popular shopping and business destination and we will continue to work to ensure it grows and prospers in the years to come.”
The Town Centre Partnership is due to meet at the end of June to discuss the outcome of the BID and consider how best to develop the town centre.