After almost a year in operation, Darlington’s Business Improvement District (BID) is continuing to play a major role in supporting the success of traders in the town, as three businesses discovered recently.
Distinct Darlington Ltd is the Business Improvement District (BID) company for Darlington Town Centre, which was voted in by a majority of businesses to improve the town centre and develop their business environment through the projects outlined in the BID business plan.
The private sector organisation’s primary aims are to increase footfall in the town and improve people’s perceptions, while also making it cleaner, safer and more welcoming for all.
And, as the initiative approaches the first anniversary of its launch, it has emerged as an influential force in boosting trade in the town and supporting businesses operating there.
Among them is Ryan Hart Hairdressing, which was thrown into turmoil recently when thieves broke into the salon on Duke Street. The burglary took place on a Monday morning and so, given that the salon is usually closed on a Monday, there was a danger that the break in may not have been discovered for several hours.
However, the BID’s Rangers spotted the aftermath of the incident and immediately alerted the police – and the business owners – before guarding the shop prior to their arrival.
Gemma Duncan, junior hair stylist at the salon, said: “Thanks to the Rangers, we were notified and came in to tidy up the damage so we could get back to business normally on the Tuesday – which we did. It’s great to have a team of dedicated Rangers who genuinely want to help Darlington and its businesses. We haven’t seen the streets look so clean in years and it makes such a difference to shoppers and organisations.”
Meanwhile, the coffee shop business Bean 4 Coffee recently alerted the BID team to problems in the back alleys near its Duke Street location. And the result has had a major impact on the business.
Director Gayle Taylor said: “Before the BID, we had constant environmental problems in our back alleys, as I’m sure is the case for many Duke Street business residents. But now, with the help of Darlington BID, we no longer have a continuous rodent and waste problem.
“At first, we weren’t too sure about the BID, but the Rangers shortly changed our minds. The Rangers are the voice of our business and other Darlington businesses. They voice our issues and concerns and make sure change is implemented throughout the town and they’re becoming something we couldn’t do without.
“As well as helping us build relationships with general public, the BID has helped us form key relationships with other businesses.”
And many other businesses in Darlington have had similarly positive experiences as a result of the BID’s work over the last 12 months, including handmade gifts retailer Had2Buy.
Joanna Buchanan, manager of the shop on Bondgate, said: “Before the BID, we never knew what was going on in the town, but now, thanks to the Rangers, we’re always in the know – and we can get involved. To us, the Rangers are friendly faces we know are here to help if we need it and they’re always just a phone call away.
“The benefits of the BID are far greater than what you pay for it. We’ve received lots of fantastic free advertising and marketing, while the Little Book of Offers is a fantastic opportunity for brand awareness and new business.
“We strongly recommend other businesses to embrace the BID like we have and get the most out of the initiative and the passion the Rangers show for promoting Darlington businesses.”
Distinct Darlington’s manager Alex Hirst said: “Since our launch we have had a hugely transformative effect on the town centre but we continue to strive for even more improvement. It’s great to hear such positive feedback and I would encourage businesses to get in touch if they want to be more involved. We are working hard to meet the needs of all businesses that pay into the BID as we drive towards the key goals set out by BID businesses when our initiative was first voted in.”
Distinct Darlington is aimed at addressing four key areas over the first five years of the BID, which cover marketing, promotion and events, business support, improved access and maintaining a clean, safe and welcoming environment in the town centre.
For more information and contact details visit: www.distinctdarlington.co.uk