Highlands & Islands

Voting starts on plans to establish a Lochaber Bid

Voting has started among shops and companies on plans to set up a business improvement district (Bid) for Lochaber.

If it goes ahead, Lochaber Bid will be the largest in the UK.

About 1,000 businesses in the area have been given six weeks to vote on the proposal, which is being promoted by an organisation called Living Lochaber.

Bid schemes encourage businesses to work together more closely and also offers access to funding.

Aberdeen, Inverness and Alloa are among places in Scotland with districts.

Businesses which have a rateable value of at least £2,000 will be able to vote on whether Lochaber gets a Bid.

A group called Living Lochaber is behind the proposal. It said the scheme could attract investment of £1.8m.

Chairman Frazer Coupland said: "This is a real opportunity for local businesses to help themselves and raise a dedicated source of funding, which will be channelled into projects that support business growth and survival."

However, there are businesses opposed to the proposal.

Businessman Stewart MacLean said the scheme would split the business community, rather than bring it closer together.

He said if a Bid was created it should focus on a smaller geographic area such as Fort William High Street.

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