A PROPOSED scheme to collect a levy to fund initiatives to attract shoppers to Taunton has been shelved.

A ballot of companies on whether to introduce a Business Improvement District (BID) in the town has been suspended following government advice over the coronavirus crisis.

A number of businesses had already cast their votes, but district returning officer James Hassett stepped in to halt the process yesterday afternoon.

He ruled that many businesses had been unable to vote due to the disruption caused during the current period.

As a result Taunton BID will not go ahead and plans for the future are uncertain.

Colin Barrell, chairman of the BID working group, said: “There are no winners with this decision.

"It is a reflection of the desperate times we are all currently experiencing.

“In the past week, it has become increasingly obvious that if we had secured a mandate for the BID it would have been extremely difficult to set up the BID company and expect businesses to pay the levy to fund the programme.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their incredible hard work over recent months and for all who supported this scheme for Taunton.

“I hope when we come through this crisis, as a business community, we can all work together to help Taunton to recover, look after each other and serve our customers and community once again.”

A rival movement had been run opposing the BID, which would have raised funds to pay for events and activities aimed at encouraging more people to use and shop in the town centre.