ORPINGTON is leading the way for businesses after traders voted yes to the borough’s first business improvement district (BID).

In a ballot which concluded on Thursday (February 20) 54 per cent of people voted in favour of the BID.

The initiative is set to boost the town centre and give business owners a real say in how the area is managed.

Key issues to be handled by the Orpington 1st BID over the next five years include improving the look and feel of the town, promoting it as a destination for shoppers and potential investors and improving accessibility and parking.

Other issues include tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and introducing initiatives to reduce costs to businesses.

Orpington 1st chairman Gary Morris said: “We are absolutely delighted with the positive result which represents months of hard work and heralds the start of an exciting time for Orpington.

“We can guarantee Orpington 1st won’t be resting on its laurels and will be getting started on delivering the campaign promises straight away.”

Portfolio holder for renewal and recreation Councillor Peter Morgan said: “This is great news for Orpington town centre and we can really build on the work we have done in the town to ensure it is competitive for many years to come.

“Businesses are clearly passionate about their town and we are looking forward to working ever more closely with them going forward.”

And Orpington’s MP Jo Johnson said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in the High Street.

“The Orpington BID will cement Orpington’s reputation as an attractive place to start a business.

“Congratulations to Gary Morris, Chairman of the Orpington 1st BID working group, and Cheryl Curr, town centre manager, for their outstanding efforts in achieving this hard-won result.”

The total number of votes cast in the ballot was 164, representing a turnout of 48 per cent. Fifty-four per cent voted in favour representing 60 per cent of the rateable value.

Traders and businesses within the defined BID area voted on whether to contribute a levy, based on 1.5 per cent of rateable value.

Orpington 1st Ltd will use the levy money along with funds generated from other sources to deliver additional services to boost the town centre and its businesses.