AN ORGANISATION which represents Worcester's shops has secured the ultimate vote of confidence - £2 million of investment for another five years.

Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) has secured the endorsement of city retailers and business owners after 65 per cent voted for it to stay in place during a 28-day ballot.

It means the body, which has been at the helm as Worcester continues to outperform rival cities, can carry on until at least March 2020 with funding from all its members.

For the city centre it means:

- Scores of hanging baskets will be placed outside units and in communal areas of the city to make Worcester even more attractive, which the BID says it will "buy in bulk"

- Talks with landlords of empty units to encourage short-term 'pop-up shops' and a request that windows are dressed with a vinyl finish to make them look more tempting

- The funding of a new part-time "roaming store detective" to identify shoplifters and work with police to bring them to justice

- Launching of a new 'restaurant week' campaign to raise awareness of the city's vast offering, which will be part of a potential late-night shopping scheme extending beyond Christmas

- A fresh project will launch to offer a cardboard recycling service to shops and get rubbish bags left outside removed quicker

The full range of initiatives extend to dozens, all aimed at boosting Worcester's profile as a retail and business destination.

The 65 per cent 'yes' vote is based on the results of 323 businesses, half of those with BID membership in the city.

Taking into account the percentage of those in favour by rateable value, the result was 71 per cent.

It means a new £2 million funding package for BID, from a levy paid by business owners, with the ballot conducted independently.

Adrian Field, head of Worcester BID, said: "‘The BID staff and board members who are made up of people from city centre businesses have worked extremely hard in the last four-and-a-half years to make Worcester a place which has overcome the economic downturn better than the vast majority of other places in the country.

"It is the businesses who make a BID successful and we are really pleased they have clearly indicated their support for the next five years as there is still a lot of work to be done in order to compete with other centres."

He said the food festival, motor festival, the 'RingGo' scheme allowing people to pay for parking via mobiles, new signs, Christmas promotions and the nightlife anti-crime efforts have all been delivered due to the BID.

A BID can operate for a maximum five-year period before an election and since 2010, the Worcester version has won or been shortlisted for five national awards, including its work to get people back into the city during and after the floods back in February.  

It was also shortlisted for its entry in the recent 'High Street of the Year' awards.

Nicki Williams, chairman of Worcester BID, said ‘We are delighted the majority of businesses who took time to vote and have their say have decided that they want the BID to continue and deliver the projects that they wanted to see.

"Businesses had the opportunity to help shape the future of the city centre through our consultation events and exercises in the summer and we believe that all sectors which make up this fantastic location will benefit."

Independent shop owners in Worcester have spoke of their delight with the verdict.

Lucy Bushell, who runs Little Puds baby and children's fashion shop in the CrownGate, said: "When we moved here it was the BID that put us in touch with Crowngate - it's really nice having an organisation like this in the city."