A project which could pump millions of pounds into a north-east town centre and bring tourists to the region has been backed by a narrow margin.
The Rediscover Peterhead business improvement district (Bid) was launched in 2015 as an attempt to redevelop the port’s town centre and draw new shoppers back to the high street.
Last night sufficient local businesses voted in favour of forming a group tasked with implementing a vision to reduce their costs and drive up footfall.
The scheme is a copy of similar initiatives in Elgin and Inverurie, where local businesses have banded together in an effort to develop projects to breathe life back into their town centres and stand as a single entity when negotiating utilities.
In Peterhead, it was passed with 54% of the shops in the town centre agreeing to the scheme.
They – along with those that voted no – will now pay about £300 each into a levy which will raise an initial £550,000 to invest into projects that will improve the town centre.
It is hoped the cash could bring free wi-fi, improved gull removal measures and CCTV to the town.
Last night, Bid chairman John Pascoe said the vote was “an inspiration”.
“If you change nothing, then nothing will change,” he added.
“It’s definitely the best mechanism to get us somewhere.
“In order to get people back into the town, we really do need this. Bluntly this will be a minimum of a £550,000 spend in regenerating this town centre over the next five years.
“What we now hope to do is to lever the same funding again that would really give us bang for our buck. The concept of a Bid is to add value to the services that are already there.”
Iain Sutherland, Bid coordinator, added that it was a “great day” for the port.
“Businesses have realised that moaning about our circumstances doesn’t change anything,” he said.
“Abraham Lincoln’s quoted as saying ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’. And that’s what we’ve done today. We’ve come to realise that we aren’t alone – we’re all working together for the good of the town.
“We’ve recognised the need to improve our town.”
Local business owner John Cameron, a supporter of the Bid scheme, said:
“We’ve had challenges and we’ve been through tough times – now the journey begins.”
A steering group of local business owners will now be created to decide on which projects the Bid should pursue.
Aberdeenshire Council chief executive Jim Savege presented the result at the Palace Hotel.
He said 138 of the 228 businesses eligible to vote as part of the BID process had returned their ballots.
He added he was “pleased” to be able to announce the result and praised “great businesses leadership in a superb town”.