Worcester BID

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Background Information

Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) has been in operation since April 2010 and is a non-for-profit organisation with the aim of improving the trading conditions for the businesses who contribute a BID levy.

What is a BID?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a precisely defined geographical area of a town, city, or commercial district where ratepayers have voted to invest collectively in local improvements in addition to those delivered by local Government, not replace them.

BIDs have the potential to provide a range of essential services from, for example, street wardens to improved signage; from organising new events such as the Worcester Chocolate Weekend to improving the quality and quantity of Christmas lights; from paying for additional parking time by using your mobile phone, to more marketing of the city centre, free membership of CityNet and NightSafe schemes, marketing of Worcester’s offer for businesses, and taxi marshals.

The Business Plan is a document in which the projects and delivery of the BID are explained in full detail. All businesses with a rateable value of over 7,500 pounds as at 18th September 2009 were eligible to vote within the BID area and received a ballot paper and a copy of the Business Plan.

What’s in it for my Business and Me?

EVERYONE / THE COMMUNITY
– Attracts inward investment
– Gives competitive regional advantage
– Develops partnership between private & public sector
– Provides sustainable investment for on-going capital projects/services
– Creates a positive sense of place and enhanced feeling of safety and well-being – provides community pride

BUSINESSES / THE OCCUPIER
– Increases footfall
– Increases consumer spend and sales
– Reduces costs (crime reduction, joint activities, e.g. promotions/marketing)
– Is flexible to address the issues of individual sectors
– Gives businesses a local voice
– Creates more appealing environment for employees
– Gives equal involvement and benefits to all BID businesses
– Fair system, those that invest, benefit – no freeloading
– Can decide and vote for action before making the investment
– Can control process, monitor results

LOCAL AUTHORITIES
– Harnesses private sector management/organisational drive and skills
– Promotes greater understanding of the role of Las
– Provides an effective means of liaising with the business community

THE LANDLORD
– Assists capital value growth
– Increases an area’s desirability and attracts occupiers
– Increase in trade which affects turnover based rents (some retail)
– Good PR for company locally and regionally
– Forges positive links with council

How do BIDs work?

Businesses identify, prioritise and agree the BID projects. 51% of eligible businesses who voted in the ballot must support the BID in a postal ballot for it to happen both by number and rateable value. (We had 71% voting yes by number and 79% both rateable values). This dual majority ensures that small businesses have an equal say in the BID Ballot as the larger ones. Once agreed every eligible business contributes proportionately regardless of how or if they voted or not. Contributions are ring fenced with the charge fixed at the start. The BID is 100% accountable to you and will last for 5 years. The BID income will provide additional funding for exciting new projects within the city centre as well as adding value to existing schemes and services. The levy will be collected through the business rates. The business plan is based on a contribution of a percentage of the rateable value of each property which will be 1.5% (0.75% for those in a managed shopping centre, with those businesses receiving mandatory rate relief receiving an 80% reduction). This figure is subject to inflation each year based on the figure as calculated by the government for NNDR bills. For 2011/12 this inflationary figure is 4.6% meaning that the levy rate for year 2 of the BID is 1.56%.

Who is liable to pay a BID levy?

Any person, registered company or charity/non-profit making organisation who is the occupier/leaseholder or where the property is empty and a lease does not exist, the owner, of the non-domestic rated property within the BID Area is liable for the BID Levy. It includes those who did not vote or voted no to the proposals and any business that has become eligible since the 18th September 2009 who is in the BID area and has a rateable value of over 7500 pounds based on their 2010 rateable value.

Are there properties excluded from the BID levy?

Yes, there are a few types of properties that are excluded from the BID levy such as:
Those hereditaments with a rateable value of 7,500 pounds or less (based on the 2010 rateable values), commercial car parking spaces, aerials, mobile phone masts, advertising boards and hoardings

How is the BID levy calculated?

In year 1 (2010/11) the BID levy was 1.5% of your commercial property’s rateable value (except in respect of covered shopping centres where occupiers already pay a service charge eg. CrownGate, Cathedral Plaza, Reindeer Court, where any relevant commercial property will be charged at 0.75% of the rateable value or 1% if you pay a pro rata service charge as you are located partly in a shopping centre eg. Boots, HMV, Debenhams). As per the Business Plan this figure is subject to inflation (4.6% for 2011/12 bills) so it will be 1.56% for bills issued in April 2011.

So if your rateable value is 10,000 pounds your annual contribution in 2011/12 will be 156 pounds.

Which rateable value will you be using to calculate my BID levy?

The 2010 NNDR listings which came into effect in April 2010 at the same time as the BID went live. These figures are available from www.voa.gov.uk

How and when is the BID levy payable?

South Worcestershire Shared Service (Revenues and Benefits) who collect on behalf of Worcester City Council sent eligible businesses a BID levy invoice on behalf of the BID company. The BID levy is paid directly through to South Worcestershire Shared Service (Revenues and Benefits) who are acting as agents for the levy collection. This money is ring-fenced and then 100% is passed on from them to the Worcester BID.

What happens if I do not pay the BID levy?

The South Worcestershire Shared Service (Revenues and Benefits) will send you a reminder. You will have a set number of days from the date shown on the notice to pay the reminder. If the BID levy remains outstanding after such a time, a final reminder will be sent. Then a summons will be issued for your appearance at the Worcester Magistrates Court where an application for a liability order and costs will be made. BID levy paying businesses do not want to allow freeloaders which is why we seek payment from all businesses.

BID1 2010 – 2015
It was felt that a BID was necessary in Worcester for a variety of reasons:

– The city centre management budget to deliver initiatives to help improve trade in the city was very limited.
– To prevent businesses freeloading by ensuring that projects are funded by those businesses who will be paying for them.
– To give the private sector a genuine stake in the welfare of the city centre.
– To challenge retailers, to appreciate the difficult resource decisions facing a modern local authority.

The BID will also challenge traditional council ways of working. Businesses will want to see what Councils should be delivering and so Baseline Agreements which will clearly show the levels of service they provide. This will be written to convey to businesses what they can and cannot expect of the Councils and Police and as such what added value the BID will deliver. They do not replace the levels of service provided by them.
Worcester BID’s successful ballot result means that when it began in April 2010 it was one of over 100 BIDs operating in the UK most of which are based in a town or city centre. Nearby examples include Birmingham Broad Street, Retail Birmingham, Leamington Spa and Stratford.

To develop a BID and a Business Plan which people will vote positively on, an extensive level of consultation had to take place. This ensures that the Business Plan upon which people made their voting decisions contained projects which you want in order to address issues and which will help your business benefit.

The BID – Pre Ballot including Consultation

The suggestion of a BID in Worcester was undertaken in 2004 when an independent Best Value Review determined that Worcester City Council’s city centre management function the ’City Centre Forum’ would be best served if it were to undertake the remit of the tourism function of the city council under the auspices of a new not for profit organisation. As a result, Discover Worcester Ltd, trading as VisitWorcester was created in 2006 with a Board of Directors. VisitWorcester now delivers tourism, events and city centre management within the city centre on a limited budget. It also secured 50,000 pound funding from the City Council to develop the BID which it was felt would help to collectively fund projects in the city centre which the business community want and are willing to contribute towards. In February 2008, the BID Project Manager was appointed and the process of developing the BID began.

Consultation included:

– Residents’ Surveys
– Business Surveys – over 750 surveys were sent out to businesses in June 2008 to seek what issues were important to them
– Face to Face Meetings at local and national level
– Sector Meetings / Focus Groups – 200 ’non retail’ businesses were invited to a consultation event in April 2009
– General consultation events – all eligible businesses in the proposed BID area and any of their headquarters were invited to attend any one of 14 consultation sessions in July 2009.
– 2 Open Days – one in September 2008 and another in July 2009
– Quick Faxback Questionnaires

The ballot:

The business community of Worcester went to ballot in October 2009. On 4th November 2009 the result was declared for the Worcester BID ballot with 71% voting yes by number and 79% yes by rateable value. This dual majority ensures that businesses regardless of size all have an equal vote. The ballot was undertaken independently by Electoral Reform Services (ERS). As a result the Worcester BID began trading in April 2010 and will run for 5 years.

Click here to view the BID1 2010 -2015 Business Plan.

BID2 2015 – 2020

In November 2014 businesses have been invited to vote to maintain a BID for another 5 year period from April 2015 until March 2020. The results of the 28 day postal ballot for which 643 businesses were asked to vote were announced on 28th November 2014 with 65% by number and 71% by aggregate rateable value supporting a second BID term. There was a 50.2% turnout with 323 businesses voting.

To find out more about the ballot please click on the following links: BID2 2015 – 2020 campaign and Vote ‘YES’ for BID (ballot process). Click here to view the Declaration of Ballot Result 28/11/2014 by Electoral Reform Services. Click here to view the BID2 2015 – 2020 Business Plan.

This positive vote means that over £2 million worth of investment will take place over the next 5 years on city centre initiatives. It will allow the delivery of projects that businesses themselves have stated that they want delivered and these include many existing as well as new BID projects which will really boost the profile of Worcester and its businesses.

This was a crucial decision for Worcester – much has been achieved through the BID, there remains much to be done but there is also lots to lose by not continuing with the improvements and investment that has already delivered. Thank you for your support and we look forward to continue working with you over the next 5 years.

 

If you would like to discuss how the BID will benefit your business and to have any queries answered, please contact Worcester BID on 01905 731612 or email info@worcesterbid.com

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