SHOPS and firms in Burnley town centre have voted to follow Blackburn and pay extra to create a partnership to promote the area.

Following a ballot, the new Business Improvement District (BID) will start in April.

The small levy on top of business rates will pay for activities, projects and services to make the town centre more economically vibrant, increase footfall and create a safer, cleaner and greener retail area.

The BID will raise £1million over five years to pay for initiatives decided on by a business-led board.

Blackburn town centre set up a BID in 2014 and last year voted to extend it for a second five-year term until 2023.

The Burnley BID concentrates on introducing a dedicated year-round programme of marketing and promotional campaigns including events to bring people in and a ‘Shop Local, Stay Local’ programme.

It will encourage and support the growth of independent businesses, tackle anti-social behaviour and crime and create a safer and more secure town centre, both day and night.

Debbie Hernon, Charter Walk Shopping Centre manager, said: “The BID will give businesses a greater say in how Burnley town centre is managed to make it a more attractive and vibrant place to shop and visit.”

Kate Ingram, Burnley Council’s strategic head of growth, said: “This is great news and will help build on the wider town centre regeneration.”