Food and drink producers in East Lothian have given their backing to a “ground-breaking” initiative aimed at boosting the region’s standing at home and abroad.
Said to be the first scheme of its kind, plans for the business improvement district (BID) were supported by more than 90 per cent of the companies that were balloted.
The next step will be to form a company limited by guarantee by August, set up a board of directors and recruit a BID manager to oversee a five-year business plan.
John McMillan, cabinet spokesperson for economic development and tourism at East Lothian Council, said: “This is truly fantastic news. Despite tough economic times across the country in the last few years, the quality food and drink sector continues to grow and we’ve certainly seen that in East Lothian.
“I’m proud to say that East Lothian Council has been supporting this BID process from the very start and will continue to support the BID through the East Lothian Food & Drink initiative. It’s a very bright future for this sector.”
All 37 eligible producers in East Lothian will be required to become members of the BID and pay a “sliding scale” levy of between £350 and £650 a year, based on their number of full-time employees. However, food and drink firms in the region would also be able to pay a voluntary levy and receive full membership benefits.
Louise Elder, chair of the steering committee behind the initiative, said: “The commitment to collaboration by a yes vote for the East Lothian food and drink BID has come from an industry ready to embrace new and exciting ventures in marketing and distributing our finest East Lothian produce.”