ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

What is a Business Improvement District?

There are nearly 300 BIDs across the UK. A BID is a business-led partnership that improves trading conditions in a high street or town centre – in a similar way that a shopping centre manager does in modern malls. They vary in size but typically comprise a few hundred businesses clubbing together and backing a business plan that sets out a range of activities that typically market, promote and improve a given shopping area.

Do we need a BID here?

High streets are under massive pressure from the internet, supermarkets, out-of-town retailing, the economy etc. These pressures are likely to increase in coming years. A Business Improvement District will enable local businesses to work together to improve the trading environment in a proactive and planned way to fight back against these pressures.

What will the Clevedon BID do?

In summary the BID will market, enhance and connect Clevedon – please see the BID business plan. It is worth noting that all BID levy money is ring fenced for use only in the BID area – unlike business rates which are paid in to and redistributed by government.

What are the benefits?

Benefits cited include increased footfall, business cost reduction through joint procurement, area marketing and promotion, increased staff retention at office based businesses, a collective business voice and representation on issues affecting their area, assistance in dealings with the Council, Police and other public bodies.

What does success look like?

Performance measurement is important to demonstrate tangibly the improvements to an area via specific indicators.

What area will be covered?

The Town Centre, the Hill shopping area and waterfront (subject to further consultation).

Who pays?

Projects are funded through levy charged to eligible businesses.

How much will it cost?

This BID will be based on 2% of the rateable value of properties in the BID area which works out at about £4 per week for the average independent business. A well run Business Improvement District should actually save most businesses more than they spend. This is done by organising collective purchasing deals for utilities, waste etc as the power of several hundred businesses negotiating as a ‘block’ creates economies of scale that generate significant savings.

Who controls the money raised?

Clevedon BID will be controlled by local business people. A not-for-profit company limited by guarantee will be established setting out the details of how funds are directed and managed. Management approaches vary but are generally kept small with one part time manager reporting to the board.

The vote

All of this is subject to a vote by all the businesses that will pay the levy if it goes ahead. The vote is carried out strictly independently through the council by a postal ballot – businesses are asked to vote a simple YES or NO – are they in favour or not. If more than 50% vote YES (by number of businesses and by total rateable value) then it goes ahead for five years and may be renewed through a further ballot process. Evidence suggests that once a BID has been set up 90% of them continue to be supported.

Does everyone pay?

If there is a yes vote then all businesses have to pay regardless of whether they voted no or didn’t vote at all (unless specifically excluded). The legislation is designed this way to ensure that as all will benefit…all should pay.

SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BIDS

It’s a stealth tax relinquishing local authorities of their responsibilities.

No, it’s not a stealth tax. It’s a payment in return for services which are outlined in the BID proposal – these need to be in addition to what is already being delivered in the BID area. The BID is a privately funded, business-led initiative, with funds that are managed by local businesses.

Its services should be delivered by the local council.

The services delivered by the BID will be detailed in a proposal document, which all those eligible to pay the levy will vote on. To ensure that services will be additional to what’s already delivered, the BID will have a baseline agreement with the local authority which details the services they currently deliver. BID funds are ONLY for projects in addition to those delivered by the local councils and can only be spent to improve the area in which they are raised.

It gives a false illusion that it can increase footfall and trade/business.

A BID will have the ability to advertise the town and contribute towards improving the town centre to meet business and visitor needs; although increasing footfall and trade/businesses are not promises, they are very realistic aims. The success of the projects will be down to the effectiveness of the programme and its relevance to the local area. The BID will implement monitoring procedures to evaluate the success of projects and the BID’s work. This could include quantitative analysis (using data such as footfall figures and vacancy rates) and qualitative analysis (such as visitor and business surveys). Regular reports would be made publicly available and distributed to the local business community. Ultimately, those that fund the BID will have the say on whether it has delivered value for money through a re-ballot, which will take place at the end of a BID term (a maximum of 5 years).

BID directors will waste money on self-perks

Made up of town centre traders/businesses, elected BID directors will be representing you, friends and neighbours. Clear financial procedures are outlined in the BID proposal which prevent any unlawful activity on behalf of members of the board. We will abide by the industry guidance regarding transparent finance and governance procedures and the publication of accounts, as set out by the British Retail Consortium, the Inter Banking Rating Forum, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the British Council of Shopping Centres. Our BID steering group meetings and activities are transparent and clear, and will remain so in the eventuality of a Clevedon BID. Traders/businesses involved give their valuable time, without personal gain, because they are passionate about Clevedon. Any business in the town is welcome to join the steering group and if the BID is successful at ballot, anyone who pays the levy will be able to stand for the Board or become involved in one of the theme groups, which will take the lead on different areas of the BID’s work.

The BID levy is not transparent

Well before the ballot, a BID proposal will be published and circulated to all stakeholders, containing absolutely clear total rateable values being proposed. If a ballot is successful, a not-for-profit company, owned and funded by businesses, and others eligible to pay the BID levy, will be created. It will primarily be funded by a levy based on the total rateable value of a business unit.

BIDs across the country are being voted against.

This is a democratic process, with the stakeholders in each area being able to decide what they believed to be best for their area. In reality the net number of BIDs continue to grow each year. There are now well over 250 BIDs in the UK and 90% of ballots result in a yes vote with support for BIDs is shown to grow at renewal ballot, once they have demonstrated what they have achieved with targeted, business led activity.

BIDs are marred by corruption, secrecy

This is a democratic process, with the stakeholders in each area being able to decide what they believed to be best for their area. In reality the net number of BIDs continue to grow each year. There are now well over 250 BIDs in the UK and 90% of ballots result in a yes vote with support for BIDs is shown to grow at renewal ballot, once they have demonstrated what they have achieved with targeted, business led activity.