Things are looking up for Distinct Darlington as it prepares to mark its second birthday

Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington, the town's business improvement district

Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington, the town's business improvement district

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Darlington reporter

THE manager of Darlington’s business improvement district (Bid) hopes the organisation is more accepted by traders in the town as it approaches its second birthday.

Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington, the company that runs the Bid, said business owners in the town are becoming more positive as the number of initiatives provided by the organisation grows.

The Bid attracted criticism when it was first set up in 2012, with many small traders claiming that they did not want it to be set up and accusations of a heavy-handed approach to collecting the compulsory levy from businesses.

Mrs Hirst said Distinct Darlington had teething troubles the same as any new business but, as it goes into its third year, she said she hopes the initiative is starting to prove itself.

She added: “That proof only comes with achieving projects that the businesses want to see happen and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

The Bid has organised a series of high profile events in recent months, including Darlington by the Sea and the Christmas ice rink, and is also preparing for the first Distinctly Delicious Darlington food festival, which will take place on May 25 and 26.

It is also working with traders to procure joint rates for utilities and telecoms charges and is looking to provide workshops on social media and health and safety.

Ian Taylor, director of Distinct Darlington, who is also a business owner in the town, said the Bid was committed to using the levy to do the best for all businesses and traders operating in the town centre.

He said: “We want to make the town centre a vibrant destination. Every town centre has had to face what we have faced but Darlington is better off than many other towns.

“The Bid is almost two years old and we have a number of long term and short term plans for the rest of our first five years.

“Moving forward, we want to save businesses money far above the levy they pay us – we’ll help with collective negotiations for goods and services and training.

“Above all we want to be a conduit between businesses and the council so that we can make things happen that benefit everyone.”

For more information on the Bid visit distinctdarlington.co.uk

Comments (9)

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3:14pm Mon 21 Apr 14

Homshaw1 says...

The BID is a blatant attempt to extract money from hard pressed businesses.. Most of the things listed as achievements by the BID are things previously provided by the council

To say the BID is more accepted by businesses is subjective at best.

Darlington may be better off than some towns. It is also a lot worse than a lot of towns. There is no concrete evidence that the BID has helped and many would say the extra levy causes a problem.

The salary of Mrs Hirst and many of her staff are probably higher than the profits of many of the small businesses that are paying their wages.
The BID is a blatant attempt to extract money from hard pressed businesses.. Most of the things listed as achievements by the BID are things previously provided by the council To say the BID is more accepted by businesses is subjective at best. Darlington may be better off than some towns. It is also a lot worse than a lot of towns. There is no concrete evidence that the BID has helped and many would say the extra levy causes a problem. The salary of Mrs Hirst and many of her staff are probably higher than the profits of many of the small businesses that are paying their wages. Homshaw1
  • Score: 19

5:03pm Mon 21 Apr 14

Border Terrier says...

All shop and Business owners in the town centre, want to withhold any
additional taxes (Because that's what they are) no wonder its like a ghost town now.I am trying to think of something distinctive about Darlington.
No I give up, nowt!
All shop and Business owners in the town centre, want to withhold any additional taxes (Because that's what they are) no wonder its like a ghost town now.I am trying to think of something distinctive about Darlington. No I give up, nowt! Border Terrier
  • Score: 4

6:10pm Mon 21 Apr 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

Day light robbery in every sense of the word. Legalized thievery!
Day light robbery in every sense of the word. Legalized thievery! thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 8

6:44pm Mon 21 Apr 14

MST1975 says...

So they aren't actually providing any kind of service to the local town centre businesses?

It seems they take a levy from each shop and spend it on ice rinks rides and putting in a market. Which they charge for?

So what do they do with their profits?
So they aren't actually providing any kind of service to the local town centre businesses? It seems they take a levy from each shop and spend it on ice rinks rides and putting in a market. Which they charge for? So what do they do with their profits? MST1975
  • Score: 7

8:57pm Mon 21 Apr 14

oliviaden6 says...

Homshaw1 wrote:
The BID is a blatant attempt to extract money from hard pressed businesses.. Most of the things listed as achievements by the BID are things previously provided by the council

To say the BID is more accepted by businesses is subjective at best.

Darlington may be better off than some towns. It is also a lot worse than a lot of towns. There is no concrete evidence that the BID has helped and many would say the extra levy causes a problem.

The salary of Mrs Hirst and many of her staff are probably higher than the profits of many of the small businesses that are paying their wages.
As far as i can see this nothing more than a job creation scheme for a selected few at the expense and to the deprement of the Local BNusiness communities. Is there not enough these businesses have to endure?
[quote][p][bold]Homshaw1[/bold] wrote: The BID is a blatant attempt to extract money from hard pressed businesses.. Most of the things listed as achievements by the BID are things previously provided by the council To say the BID is more accepted by businesses is subjective at best. Darlington may be better off than some towns. It is also a lot worse than a lot of towns. There is no concrete evidence that the BID has helped and many would say the extra levy causes a problem. The salary of Mrs Hirst and many of her staff are probably higher than the profits of many of the small businesses that are paying their wages.[/p][/quote]As far as i can see this nothing more than a job creation scheme for a selected few at the expense and to the deprement of the Local BNusiness communities. Is there not enough these businesses have to endure? oliviaden6
  • Score: 4

9:34pm Mon 21 Apr 14

calumannabel says...

She's stood in front of an empty shopping centre - that says it all. If she thinks her organisation has been a success I want some of her medication!
She's stood in front of an empty shopping centre - that says it all. If she thinks her organisation has been a success I want some of her medication! calumannabel
  • Score: 4

12:09am Tue 22 Apr 14

Spy Boy says...

Scrap BiD and see if you can spot the difference. Who else is getting a nice little earner out of this? Could it be one of the council execs? You know, one of those overpaid, en-elected ones.
Scrap BiD and see if you can spot the difference. Who else is getting a nice little earner out of this? Could it be one of the council execs? You know, one of those overpaid, en-elected ones. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

7:59am Tue 22 Apr 14

Homshaw1 says...

The council said they were going to ring fence services and events, many are listed above, they were already providing. They were lying.
The council said they were going to ring fence services and events, many are listed above, they were already providing. They were lying. Homshaw1
  • Score: 3

11:27am Tue 22 Apr 14

JJ2000 says...

To the management and directorship of BiD.

Please put you money where you mouth is and publicly show the increase in profits gained by your forced initiative for each of the towns traders who are obliged by to pay for your continued existence.

Also could Bid explain how it can call itself a success when only a couple of weeks ago the same people demanded that local traders do more themselves to increase the number of visitors to Darlington. This, after all, was supposed to be the whole purpose of BiD in the first place.

I eagerly await your reply.
To the management and directorship of BiD. Please put you money where you mouth is and publicly show the increase in profits gained by your forced initiative for each of the towns traders who are obliged by to pay for your continued existence. Also could Bid explain how it can call itself a success when only a couple of weeks ago the same people demanded that local traders do more themselves to increase the number of visitors to Darlington. This, after all, was supposed to be the whole purpose of BiD in the first place. I eagerly await your reply. JJ2000
  • Score: 3

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