HEXHAM is to become the first Business Improvement District in Northumberland.

Businesses across the town voted overwhelmingly in favour of the initiative, which will unlock around £1m worth of investment.

Of the 650 or so businesses eligible to vote, the turnout was 36 per cent.

Two out of three votes cast favoured the creation of the BID. By rateable value, the yes vote amounted to 82 per cent.

Under the BID proposals, a levy will be imposed on all businesses, creating a fund to be spent on various initiatives over the next five years.

It is hoped the BID will be up and running by April.