He's not a conjuror but Chester’s own Paul Daniels hopes to sprinkle magic dust on to the campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in favour of a Business Improvement District (BID) to boost our flagging city centre.

Chester has plummeted from fifth in the retail rankings in 2002 to 59th now, as competitors like Cheshire Oaks, Liverpool and Manchester have improved their offer along with rival visitor destinations such as York, Bristol and Bath.

Paul, chairman of the CH1 BID company, is striving for a fighting-fit Chester Plc, with city centre businesses as stakeholders, driving the priorities and direction of travel.

A vote, involving more than 500 enterprises in a carefully defined zone, will take place on June 30. If successful, companies with a rateable value over £18,000 will contribute 1% of their existing business rate towards a £500,000-plus pot to be used for initiatives such as marketing campaigns, improving the Chester ‘welcome’ and enhancing the range of city centre events and festivals.

Paul is adamant the private sector must step up to the plate or face decline.

He told The Chronicle: “There isn’t another alternative. Nobody else is coming forward to help these businesses. It’s about getting a return on their investment.

“ It’s the only thing that keeps me awake at night – because I think we’ve got the right concept, I believe we’ve got the right intellectual resources to make it work – but if there was a ‘no’ vote on July 1 and Chester city centre was a stock exchange, it would mean that all the shareholders in this city centre didn’t have any confidence in the market that they are working in and that to me, if it was a stock exchange, all the indices would continue to decline, short, medium and long term.”