THE creation of an Okehampton Business Improvement District (BID) will be the topic of discussion at two days of free workshops for businesspeople in the town later this month.

The workshops will discuss the potential for an Okehampton BID, looking at how it could support the town and its activities.

A BID, which is a business-led structure, is a defined area in which all business rate payers pay into a funding pot to develop projects that will benefit businesses in the local area.

The businesses choose the projects and decide how the money is spent in the town.

The discussions come after West Devon Borough Council, Devon County Council, Okehampton Town Council and Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council have surveyed businesses on potential improvements to the high street and wider town.

Cllr Neil Jory, West Devon Borough Council’s Lead Member for the Economy, said: “We always want to do everything in our power to support our local businesses, and try to create communities and high streets that are thriving.

"That’s why we’ve been surveying businesses in Okehampton – to find out what they want and need to help them flourish in the future.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: "It's encouraging to see all of the authorities working closely in partnership to explore the potential of an Okehampton BID.

"The recent reinstatement of the Dartmoor Line and plans to open a second rail station are extremely positive for the town and it gives Okehampton's economy huge potential for growth.

"Hopefully these workshops will help the Okehampton BID initiative move towards a successful outcome which will benefit the town, its businesses and the local community."

Okehampton’s Mayor, Cllr Allenton Fisher, said: “Okehampton is a wonderful town, which has over the past decade seen a large expanse of housing, coupled with a significant increase of visitors and people transiting due to our railway connection.

"It is imperative that the BID is successful to enhance the town and its facilities and help the local traders to compete in the difficult retail market.”

Andy Ewen of Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council said: “Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council believes the BID initiative will benefit the community of Okehampton, generate interest and help improve the local economy.”

The workshops will be a chance for the four councils to share the findings of their research, and for those attending to share their ideas and priorities with the councils. This feedback will help to shape any future proposals for the town.

They are due to take place on Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30. There are four workshop sessions available on January 29, and three on January 30.

Venues include Okehampton Town Hall, Okehampton Business Centre and the A30 Business Centre. Each workshop will be no longer than 90 minutes.

You can sign up online at: .