Rory Backs Penrith’s Business Improvement District Proposal



Rory met last week with Chris Kolek and local businessman Kelvin Dixon of Seagraves & Dixon, two of the primary canvassers for Penrith’s Business Improvement District (BID) proposal, to discuss how Penrith could benefit from such a scheme and to offer his support. The MP has pledged to contact Penrith’s resident businesses to explain how the BID could benefit them, and strongly endorsing a vote in favour of its adoption.

The BID, as it is currently outlined, would seek to encourage economic growth and raise the profile of Penrith by providing a significant level of investment raised through a levy on businesses within a defined area. Current proposals include a “free after three” campaign which would provide free car parking to everyone after 3pm, and significant investment into better advertising and marketing campaigns, including re-branding Penrith as “The Heart of Cumbria”. Such efforts aim to boost footfall through the town centre and provide a return on investment for the businesses contributing.

Rory Stewart, who has offered his full support for the proposal, said: “The Penrith BID will provide a mechanism whereby local businesses are in charge of the policy and funding driving forward improvements within Penrith’s town centre. £500,000 of investment over five years could generate significant improvements to Penrith’s business district, and as the ideas are coming directly from local businesses themselves, they are far more likely to succeed. I think it is a great sign of local democracy which I would like to see end eventually with the a directly elected Penrith mayor and town council.”

Whilst some businesses may be deterred by the idea of a levy, Kelvin Dixon sought to reassure them on this matter by stating: “The cost of backing the BID for the majority of Penrith’s small businesses would only be around 50p per day, or the price of a packet of crisps.” Much of money raised – a predicted £500,000 over five years – would instead come from the local supermarkets. The resources would then be managed and controlled by an elected management board, allowing businesses to more directly influence investment within the town centre.”

The BID proposal requires a majority “Yes” vote by local Penrith traders, and will take place at the end of November. For more information please contact Chris Kolek, Penrith BID Canvasser at

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