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.

Loading article content

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