Businesses in Barrow have shown remarkable resilience in recent years. In the face of a perfect storm of exceptionally tough economic conditions and the rapid, technology-driven growth in online retailing, a significant number of the UK’s high streets and market squares now look rather empty and depressed.

Even some of the more affluent of England’s towns and city centres have experienced a drop in footfall and now have unusually high numbers of empty shops and office premises. Barrow is no exception.

Local businesses, in partnership with the Borough Council, commissioned a study in 2014 to investigate the feasibility of a Business Improvement District (BID). This was recognition that “doing nothing” was not an option for Barrow. The fact that many businesses were surviving, often thanks to the extraordinary levels of customer loyalty, was not something to be taken for granted.

The findings of the study, which included a survey by interview of 50 local businesses, revealed a number of concerns for the future and a general enthusiasm to do something about them. Although most business people were not familiar with BIDs and how they work, around three-quarters were interested to learn more and welcomed the concept of a BID for the town, as an initiative led by local business people and working for the benefit of all businesses and organisations in the town centre.

The development of the BID proposal built on this interest and encouraged local business people to get involved in shaping the future of the town by contributing ideas and support for Barrow’s BID.