An urgent meeting of Aberdeen councillors will be held next week to discuss the future of the city’s business improvement district (Bid).
Set up after a ballot of potential members in 2011, the Bid – overseen by Aberdeen Inspired – must be renewed every five years by its levy-payers.
Qualifying business properties in the designated area – stretching the length of Union Street and from John Street to Union Square – pay a levy to fund its activities to increase trade, though the company also receives funding from the council for its work.
Tuesday’s meeting is a first step towards renewal, though councillors do hold the power to veto the need for the poll – effectively bringing the 10-year project to an end.
However, the nine-member urgent business committee is thought to be unlikely to swing the axe next week.
Aberdeen City Council business manager, Conservative Ryan Houghton, said: “An urgent business meeting has been called to determine if the council is agreeable to allowing Bid members the opportunity to determine if they wish the Bid to continue for another five years or otherwise.
“Even though Aberdeen City Council is a Bid member it would be dangerous and undemocratic if the council unilaterally took a decision not to allow others the opportunity to determine if they wish the Bid to continue or otherwise.
“I am positive council members on the urgent business committee will agree to allow Bid members that opportunity.”
His administration will have a five-to-four majority at the meeting.
Council co-leader Jenny Laing is on the Aberdeen Inspired board, while fellow Aberdeen Labour councillor Ross Grant is employed as the company’s senior project manager – though both have excused themselves from voting on similar matters before.
Aberdeen City Council is a Bid member itself, and will have a vote along with other city businesses should the ballot go ahead.
Its input in the potential ballot would be agreed at the full council meeting scheduled for March.
But last night SNP group leader, Alex Nicoll, criticised the decision on a ballot being taken by urgent business, instead pushing for all members to have a say now.
He said: “I am disappointed that once again the administration would rather push important decisions like this to the urgent business committee when we literally had a meeting of full council on December 14.
“I will be writing to the business manager and lord provost to request that a special meeting of council be convened to allow all elected members to take part in the decision making around the future of Aberdeen Inspired.”