SCOTTISH Borders Council has thrown its weight behind plans for a Tweed Valley tourism initiative. 

The Tweed Valley Tourism  business improvement district (BID) will see tourism businesses in the Tweed Valley pay a levy, which will be used to develop the area. 

The levy will provide an estimated income of £350,000 over five years for the steering BID’s steering group, which will spend the money on development and marketing activity.

A statement from Scottish Borders Council reads: “The Tweed Valley Tourism BID proposal is being headed by the Tweed Valley Tourist consortium. 

“It aims to grow a strong, sustainable tourism industry in the area, which is world renowned for its mountain biking in particular.

This includes: improving the visitor experience, increasing the number of visitors and encouraging them to stay longer, and creating local jobs

“The BID levy, payable by relevant business rate-paying organisations within the BID area, would provide an estimated £350,000 over five years to support the aims. 

“This may also be supplemented by external funding. The cost to the council through the levy, should the BID ballot be successful, would be £280 per year.

“The Tweed Valley BID area would stretch from West Linton and Stobo to as far east as Selkirk, following the River Tweed. 

“It will cover a total of 103 tourism-related businesses and organisations, all of which will be eligible to vote in the upcoming ballot.”

A vote will now be held with eligible businesses on Thursday November 14, and the report goes on to explain the procedure: “For a ballot to be valid, at least 25% of the persons entitled to vote, must do so and this must represent at least 25% of the total rateable value of the properties. 

“For a successful ballot, the BID proposals must receive the support of more than half of those who vote, and also more than half of the rateable floorspace. 

“For the Tweed Valley Tourism BID, this means that a minimum of 25 (25% of 103) people/ properties must vote and this must represent £831,625 rateable value (of a total rateable value of £3,326,500) of properties.”

At a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee on Tuesday August 20, councillors welcomed the proposals.

Mid Berwickshire councillor Mark Rowley, who acts as the council’s member for business and economic development, said: “I’ve met with the group: they are incredibly enthusiastic. Tourism is clearly a huge focus for us and this is a group of businesses and organisations that have got together to improve their own proposition and the additional cost to the council is not significant. 

“I think it is encouraging that this BID scheme, although it is a thematic one, will run up to and along the BID proposals for Selkirk which seems to be progressing. I commend this to the executive.”

Tweeddale East councillor Robin Tatler said: “This is a different kind from the town BIDs. It is an excellent plan, I hope everyone supports it and I hope it gets the votes needed.”

In a statement released after the meeting, councillor Rowley said: “The success of business improvement districts across Scotland is clear, with significant investment from levies being raised, as well as additional funding being leveraged and jobs being created.

“This latest proposal in the Scottish Borders is ambitious and would have a very positive impact on the Tweed Valley area. 

“It already has widespread local support and there was enthusiastic support from the executive committee this week.

“It offers a means for tourism businesses, from the largest to the smallest operator, to contribute to the vibrancy and appeal of an area of the Scottish Borders with huge potential to benefit from tourism growth.”