Businesses in Worcester Park have said no to setting up a new business improvement district – but only just – following a public vote on the proposals.

The ‘no’ side won by a very small margin of three votes over ‘yes’ – 44 to 41 – after a total of 85 declarations were made from a possible 207.

A business improvement district (BID), first introduced in North America, sees businesses within a defined area pay a certain fee on top of their usual business rates.

This pooled money then goes directly towards the body who then fund a range of improvements for the area itself.

There are pros and cons – with positives including promotion of a certain area, ring-fenced income streams, and greater potential to deliver new projects for the wider community.

However, BIDs have also attracted criticism, such as conflicts between businesses and overall interests and funding not always matching ambitions.

Like Worcester Park, the chosen body, say they would have raised £200,000 through a business levy over a five-year term – investing in activities and services.

They promised to make the town a “more attractive and safer place to be”, while “fostering a ‘one voice for businesses’” initiative.

But financial costs in setting it up were reportedly a factor in why the majority turned it down, with funding coming from with funding coming from a set rateable value.

The rateable value - an assessment of the annual rent a property would rent for if it was available on the open market at a fixed valuation date - was set at 1.5 percent.

Businesses are then grouped together according to this levy before being charged with the agreed percentage.

Keith Martin, Worcester Park steering group chair, said: “The no vote is hugely disappointing as businesses, and our town, will now miss out on the fantastic opportunities a BID would have created.

“We learned during our extensive consultation that local businesses have mixed views and, while we tried to address the concerns of smaller, independent businesses, we were not able to gain their support.

“Going forward, we do hope to find alternative ways to work together, in greater strength, to ensure Worcester Park is a town centre achieving its potential for the benefit of all.”

There are three BIDs in Sutton – Beddington BID, Kimpton Industrial Park, and Successful Sutton – according to City Hall.

Though there are different types, Like Worcester Park would have become the fourth in the borough overall had proposals been approved.

The results of the public vote were released on November 22, with a 41 percent turnout.