Peterhead businesses have voted in favour of creating a business improvement district in the town.
At a tense announcement in the Palace Hotel on Thursday evening, Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege revealed that 54.35% of the 138 votes cast by eligible businesses had backed the scheme.
Some 228 town centre bodies had been eligible to vote in the BID ballot.
The decision now paves the way for Rediscover Peterhead’s five-year improvement plan to be implemented with £550,000 direct investment from the business community itself supported by significant external funding sources.
With the support of Visitscotland, key themes of the Peterhead BID include improved tourism and promotional activities, coordinated access to grants and business support, a stronger voice to ensure council baseline standards are met, free WiFi, creation of a town centre CCTV system and improvements to accessibility and parking.
Rediscover Peterhead coordinator Iain Sutherland said: “I would like to thank the Peterhead town centre businesses for their ability to hope for a better future and to realise that moaning about your circumstances changes nothing. But getting together and fighting for a better future can have phenomenal results.
“Over the last year we have worked together as a team. We have come to realise that we’re not alone and have demonstrated the success of pulling together today.
“It’s a great victory and means that businesses within the area will start paying their levies. We now have a green light to go ahead with the limited company confirmation and set up of the board.
“Peterhead is now our business and we need to capitalise on opportunities. We have a five-year vision for the town in the form of our business plan and the new board of directors will deliver that plan.”
The next immediate step will be to inform all those businesses within the levy area of the decision and to seek nominations for board members for the new BID company.
Ten directors are to be appointed with a further two appointments from companies making voluntary contributions.
A manager will be appointed in due course and the BID must be formally-operational by November 29 with the first levy bills being issued in mid-November to provide immediate working capital.