AS the summer looms in front of us there are undoubtedly some changing - and challenging - times ahead for the county town of North Yorkshire.

Work has begun on the much-vaunted North Northallerton project and the police will soon be setting up their headquarters at what was once the Rural Payments Agency building in the town.

Nearby, demolition work on much of the old hulking prison building is almost complete and the contractors are set to vacate the site by the end of next month.

The district council has already teamed up with a development company to bring the jail site back to life, with retail, leisure, education and housing on the list of possible future uses.

Their actual ideas won’t emerge until July with work not likely to begin until next year – but, whatever they are, the town’s new Business Improvement District will have to play its part.

Following last November’s vote in favour of the BID a board has now been set up and an experienced manager, Julia Chance, has been hired to get the project moving in earnest.

By backing the project local businesses have already agreed to funding it through a levy of 1.5 per cent of their rateable values – which equates to a sizeable £7,500 if your rateable value is £500,000. Its stated role is to sell the town better than ever before, maximising footfall and increasing revenue for businesses

All of which means there are unprecedented opportunities for growth now facing the town - and they must be seized with both hands to keep it ahead of the game and retain its position as a vibrant, forward-looking market town.