The Okehampton business community is set to have its say later this year on whether it wants to create a Business Improvement District (BID).

West Devon Borough Council has announced it will inform the Secretary of State of its intention to arrange a ballot on the formation of a BID in Okehampton.

If created, a BID could lead to new community events, improved marketing opportunities and other projects to help the town’s businesses.

A BID, which is a business-led structure, is a defined area in which all eligible business rate payers pay into a funding pot to develop projects that will benefit businesses in the local area. The businesses choose the projects and decide how the money is spent in the town.

Cllr Neil Jory, West Devon Lead Member for Economy, said: “The ballot will give Okehampton’s business owners the chance to have a definitive say on whether they think a BID would be good for the town.

“As a Council, we always want to support and empower our local businesses, and to do whatever we can to create communities and high streets that are thriving.

“A BID could be hugely beneficial to the town – but only if the business community supports the initiative. We will see what the outcome is later this year.”

The decision to hold a ballot comes after months of discussions, surveys, and consultation with Okehampton businesses to gauge the desire for a BID in the town.

The work, carried out in partnership with Okehampton Town Council, Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council and Devon County Council, suggested there was a real desire for projects that would support the business community and have a positive impact on the town.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: “A lot of work has been carried out by all of the partners involved to consider the merits of an Okehampton BID and this is now an opportunity for local businesses to have their say.

“Everyone recognises the vast potential for economic growth in Okehampton and I’m certain we all united in our commitment to ensure that is maximised to benefit the whole town and the local community. It’s now up to businesses to decide how they want to move forward.”

Okehampton town councillor and a member of the Okehampton BID Steering Group, Cllr Bob Tolley, said: “As the Okehampton Town Council representative on the steering group I am supporting the BID because, aside from obvious benefits for the businesses involved, it will help to create a sense of pride and identity within the Okehampton community, fostering a positive environment for both businesses and residents.

“The town council, collaborating and working with local businesses, can help address common challenges and achieve shared goals, and can often provide additional services beyond which we as a town council can provide.

“I commend you support the BID and in doing so the positive and progressive future of Okehampton.”

Dee Gill, of Business Information Point and a member of the Okehampton BID Steering Group, said: “BIP is supporting the BID because we see great value in collaborative approaches to business, particularly in rural areas.

“Okehampton is growing and we look forward to seeing the BID deliver the opportunities and support to help it thrive.”

Kathy James-Castle, of Health Foods and Nutrition and a member of the Okehampton BID Steering Group, said: “It’s important for Health Foods and Nutrition Okehampton to be involved in Okehampton’s BID because when we work together as a town it can prosper for everyone.”

The ballot is set to take place in June/July 2024.

The decision to move forward with a ballot was supported by councillors at West Devon’s Hub meeting on March 5.

To find out more information on each of the reports discussed during Hub, visit:

The meeting can be viewed in full on West Devon Borough Council’s YouTube channel at