A business organisation tasked with redeveloping Newcastle’s Central Station and giving city night-spots a new-look will continue for another five years.
Shopkeepers, cafe-owners and venue managers in the city centre voted to support business improvement district company NE1 Ltd financially until 2019. Major projects to improve the Bigg Market and the Gate area with new lighting, trees and street furniture and the remodelling of Percy Street will now get under way.
Over 78% voted in favour of the fund which levies 1% of a company’s business rate.
So far the private company has introduced street rangers, the Alive after Five free parking initiative, bike rental as well as steering the £20m Central station redevelopment and building the Newcastle City Marina on the River Tyne.
Organisers believe the 62% turnout of business owners is a ‘vote of confidence’ for the organisation following a turnout of just 52% when it launched in 2009.
Sean Bullick, Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd said: “We have ambitious plans for our second term which will deliver even more significant programmes and will continue to shape a strong and positive future for Newcastle.
“All our efforts over the past five years and plans for the coming five will help cement Newcastle’s place as a major regional capital.
“We are delighted for NE1 and the city as a whole, the re-election is a real vote of confidence in what we have achieved and in the team delivering the programme, especially in light of the difficult economic times people continue to face.”
Prior to the ballot, some businses owners paying the levy said they would not vote for it to continue.
Tony Brookes, who runs the Head of Steam on Neville Street, said the charge, combined with the city council’s late night levy on premises open after midnight, was another financial burden.
However Ollie Vaulkhard, owner of the Fluid Group, which has many businsesses in the city centre paying the charge, said he was delighted to back NE1 for a second term.
He said: “Having the first term under its belt will allow the team to hit the ground running and build on their successes and be brave in their decision making and projects.
“I’m looking forward to watching NE1 continue its work across the city and to the next phase of developments which will continue to add energy and credibility to Newcastle.”
Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council described NE1 so far as being an ‘outstanding advocate’ for the city since 2009.
Around 840 votes were cast in total this year. In 2009 there was a 52% turnout with 67% voting in favour.