A TOWN centre initiative encouraging people to support local businesses has been backed by the borough council.

Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has signed up to the Lifestyle Card, a scheme offering discounts to members whilst helping to raise awareness of local businesses.

The scheme already has more than 350 companies signed up to offer discounts to members and now the borough council has also got on board, offering each of its 500 staff the chance to utilise its benefits.

Sean Caruana, company director at The Lifestyle Card, said: “Working with Test Valley Borough Council, we share a strong vision to enhance Andover’s town centre, encouraging individuals to spend locally.

“We feel that rewarding the town centre staff with Lifestyle Cards will provide an incentive to employees who are a core part of the success of this venture. We intend offering each town centre business a maximum of ten Lifestyle Cards, distributed by the end of the year.

“To support businesses, we offer a free platform on our website so that the only cost is their offer to our members. Businesses have their own designated page and a complimentary card to encourage business-to-business networking.”

As part of the deal in purchasing the Lifestyle Card as an employee benefit, Test Valley has also negotiated that 2,500 cards be allocated for free to employees of town centre businesses, to help boost spending in the High Street.

Councillor Phil North, leader of TVBC, said: “As employee benefits go, this is a perfect choice. Not only does it give something extra to our staff, it also encourages them to shop in local businesses.

“I’m really delighted that as an additional benefit we have also been able to negotiate two and a half thousand cards for town centre employees.

“We have ambitious plans to help rejuvenate the centre and encouraging our staff and everyone working in Andover to spend more time in the town is a very positive step.”