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Aberdeen’s two universities have today highlighted the role a vibrant city centre must play in rejuvenating the local economy and attracting students and future talent, ahead of a crucial ballot on the future of Aberdeen Inspired.

In line with Scotland’s other BIDs, Aberdeen Inspired must ballot the businesses within the business improvement district (BID) footprint every five years.

A successful ballot later this week will ensure it can continue working on behalf of local shops, bars, restaurants, property owners, landlords, shopping centres and all other city centre businesses until at least 2026.

The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University are both committed to supporting the recovery of the north-east of Scotland as Covid-19 restrictions are reviewed and have reiterated the vital role Aberdeen Inspired and its partners have to play in supporting a prosperous city centre.

Professor Richard Wells, Vice-Principal Regional Engagement and Regional Recovery at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The University recognises the benefits for all citizens of Aberdeen, including our student and staff population, in supporting a vibrant, prosperous and exciting city centre.

“As we work to support the regional recovery of the north-east of Scotland, the University is committed to working with our partners across the region to build a more prosperous, vibrant city.

“Aberdeen Inspired, alongside stakeholders across the region, have a key role to play in supporting the creativity and partnership working which will be needed as we look to recover from the global pandemic, rejuvenating Aberdeen.”

Professor Elizabeth Hancock, Deputy Principal and Vice-Principal for Academic Development and Student Experience at RGU, said: “As a professionally focused university, stimulating economic development is one of RGU’s strategic aims.

“Together with Aberdeen Inspired and other regional stakeholders, RGU is committed to supporting the recovery of the North-east of Scotland including through its contribution to a welcoming and thriving city for our staff, students and the wider community.

“A vibrant city centre will attract talent into our economic and creative sectors, retain home grown graduates and entrepreneurs, and enhance the reputation of Aberdeen as a tourist destination.”

Aberdeen Inspired was established to attract, sustain and boost investment in Aberdeen’s city centre for the benefit of its levy payers and all those who live, work, shop and visit there.

In addition to the levy payments, which go to support city centre improvements and initiatives, the BID brought in an additional £2million in other funding in 2020, almost double what is collected by levy. An achievement that would not have been possible without Aberdeen Inspired, it means that for every £1 of levy collected, at least £2 is invested in the city centre.

The average levy equates to around £5 per week - at just 1% of rateable value, it is the lowest in the country.

In recognition of the challenging times faced by businesses as a result of the pandemic, the levy in Aberdeen would be reduced by half in the first term (2021-22), dropping to just 0.5% of rateable value for the first year.   

The BID footprint covers Union Street and the surrounding streets, including Broad Street, Market Street, Bridge Street, Huntly Street and Holburn Junction.

Eligible businesses have until 5pm this Thursday (June 24) to have their say.