Natalie Dickson CiBM Blog
Embarking on an academic journey for the first time in a long time was slightly nerve wracking when I signed up to complete British BID’s Certificate in BID Management. It’s been a while since I had been in an educational environment (I’m showing my age there) and I was unsure as to whether certain areas of my brain could even be accessed any more. Still, it was with great excitement that I received the course materials ahead of the first few days of study and I felt an instant sense of relief as the course is bespoke to the BID industry and it confirmed that the industry is something that I am passionate about and as a result learning more about the field gave me a new sense of enthusiasm.
However, thinking about walking into a classroom again on day one was still daunting- meeting new people and going to new places are both things that would instigate mild anxiety into the most extrovert of people. Yet again I felt another huge sense of relief on getting to the (very beautiful) venue. The group is small so it was really easy to get to know each other and get a flavour of everyone’s individual BIDs.
Now, putting the course itself aside (which is great and has learning have already been put to use in my BID) a massive additional benefit for me was actually meeting people from the BID industry. The nature of BID’s is that we work focused within our own geographical areas so don’t really get much opportunity to network with each other and share best practice and some of the challenges that we face as an industry. This aspect of speaking to each other about how we handle daily challenges and how to speak to levy payers that won’t engage is invaluable. Sometimes just knowing that you aren’t the only one facing a problem really helps to push through it. Sometimes finding out what somebody else is doing to overcome issues can help you to focus on the direction you want to go in. Sometimes just having a good old fashioned chinwag over a glass of wine (after the course has finished naturally) can REALLY help.
I’m now coming up to the last couple of days of the course ahead of our dissertations and I must say I’m quite sad that our group shall soon be going our separate ways (hopefully all with a new qualification under their belt). But it’s great to know that I now have a network that I can consult with and share advice with all over the country, and I’m sure a few more glasses of wine will be shared in the future too.
Thomas Zane-Black CiBM Blog
I wanted an opportunity that allows me a professional qualification that’s industry specific and to network with peers. I enjoy working in an environment where we can share ideas and the course allows us to share our experiences and what works best or not so well. Most importantly, I need to have an insight into the rules and regulations that bind a BID. This qualification covers all aspects of working within this particular environment, namely; Principles of BIDs, BID regulations and policy, Governance and levy rules, and Operational management of BIDs. As the course is part-time I’m able to fit it in around my experiences of my job at Bromley Bid.
I’m hoping to be more knowledgeable in the guiding principles of BID regulations and policy and the operational management it requires. With this knowledge I’m aiming to be a strong team player and offer value in my local BID. I’d like to stay in touch with colleagues I’ve met on the course, particularly peers out of London to see what they’re doing in their areas and if it would be applicable to do in our area, as well as sharing what our team are up to. I think it’s important to show professionalism to our businesses and present a cohesive front. I need to understand the reasoning behind why we are doing certain things instead of them just happening.
I started working for Your Bromley Business Improvement District less than a year ago and boy was it a baptism of fire! New names, new weird and wonderful terminologies such as Ballot Process, BID proposal, baseline services and hereditaments to name just a few. Having managed to master most – but not all – of these terminologies I take it for granted why we are actually doing the things we do – without really knowing the thought process of why we are doing them. I’ve completed the first four days of the course and suddenly everything seems to fall in place.
The course has been interesting and has helped me. The tutors are very engaging and knowledgeable and lead the course at a good pace.
It’s been well worth my time and trying to fit in assignments and a busy job has become a personal fait accompli. I feel my thesis and once it’s implemented will be something to add value to local businesses and the consumer. I would definitely recommend this course as a well worth investment to anyone working on a BID.
Will ‘smart travel’ ease parking pressures?
If like us at the People & Places Partnership, you spend a lot of time asking businesses what they think about town centre issues, you will know one topic that is always a top priority.
Parking! On average we find over half of businesses in every town or city centre will be negative about parking and related traffic issues. Here we look to the near future to understand the prospects for improving town centre traffic and parking through ‘smart travel’.
Autonomous Vehicles: As the first driverless cars hit the UK’s streets, the prospects for urban motoring look positive. Vehicles will soon become available which can undertake increasingly large proportions of journeys autonomously. With only 25% take-up, Government-backed studies project a 12% improvement in delays, 21% improvement in journey times and a near 80% improvement in journey reliability. Think cars that no longer need to park!
Smart Parking: We’ve been watching this ‘space’ carefully. Technology is already in use that offers directions to spaces; ‘invisible’ payment; variable tariffs according to demand; and linked discounts for loyal customers. Over the next few years this technology will become easier to use and better integrated. This is where ‘quick wins’ can happen to differentiate your destination by improving convenience, costs and congestion.
Vehicle Sharing: This covers different ways a car can be shared by users. Taxi pools and car clubs in particular have the potential to grow in cities first because there will be the necessary number of ‘early adopters’ to make the services viable. ‘UberPool’ for example, turns a standard taxi ride into a miniature bus service by matching riders travelling in the same direction.
Intelligent Mobility: This is the hidden innovation that will be behind so many improvements to transport service in and between our towns and cities. Think of intelligent mobility as a joined-up service focusing on the ‘software’ rather than simply the ‘hardware’ of cars, trains, roads and rails. Government-backed research estimates that the UK Intelligent Mobility market will be worth up to £56bn per annum in future.
The impacts of these and other ‘smart travel’ innovations will be felt progressively over the next decade and the prospects could be positive for town centres. It will be increasingly important for the BIDs industry and strategies for individual town and city centres to become ‘plugged in to’ these opportunities to improve the convenience of town centre travel, alleviate parking pressure, reduce costs and ease congestion.
Written by Chris Wade, Director, People & Places Partnership Ltd (aka @man_about_towns)
Who should be responsible for responsible drinking?
A recent report suggested that problems associated with late night drinking had worsened, despite legislative measures introduced over the past few years.
The suggestion was that businesses needed to take more responsibility and pick up the tab for associated costs.
It felt a little bit like government was saying “okay, we have failed, so we are now going to shift the blame and scarper.” Personally, I don’t think that is acceptable and it certainly won’t work.
Looking back, didn’t the New Labour changes to licensing regulations aimed at importing continental style 24-hour drinking to the UK seem foolish even at the time? I can talk from personal experience as we brought up our own children in France for many years and, let me tell you, the rose-coloured spectacles through which British Ministers viewed some of their continental neighbours were somewhat out of focus to say the least!
Whilst on the subject, I do find it annoying when governments simply blame their predecessors for anything and everything that goes wrong. Having made the mistake, the solution is seldom for another government to then introduce draconian measures to correct it. Let’s be honest, late night levies have been a complete failure and the so-called Early Morning Restriction Orders have yet to even be introduced in any location. How much Parliamentary time did they take to get approved? Meanwhile, public sector cuts limit the number of officers on our street and Ministers look to business to somehow compensate.
Well, I think it’s time to say “no” and, instead, for local councils and police forces to be encouraged to recognise the value of partnership working as the real solution for their localities where it exists or to work with businesses to create such solutions. The vast majority of town and city centre BIDs have crime reduction as an important stream of delivery and, where they do, it should be the platform from which to build. You can’t expect businesses to pay twice! The ATCM operates the excellent Purple Flag accreditation system that requires collaborative entrepreneurial approaches amongst those partners within locations.
The issues within our town and city centre are far too complex to be solved simply by grabbing even more money from the businesses located there or, worse still, to do this whilst making it harder for them to operate. When I was young we used to go to the pub until 11.30pm when it shut and then, merry but not drunk, we returned home to finish off and party. Today, as a parent of young adults, I can confirm that the drinking (for my friends’ children, of course!) mainly starts with cheap alcohol bought from the supermarket at home and finishes with late-night revelries in town.
We want our urban centres to succeed and eating and drinking is an increasingly important part of such success. Thoughtful design of a diverse late night economy will combine entertainment, restaurants and cafes with bars and nightclubs and so reduce reliance on alcohol being the only source of fun available.
Contrary to popular belief – at least part peddled by some media – we don’t have significant problems in most urban centres. In most locations, a partnership approach, with businesses helping to design and implement solutions, is making the difference and we should be celebrating these success stories. Elsewhere, let’s have a complete policy rethink and, where we still need to take action, let’s do so through replicating these partnership models and combining them with sensible, balanced licensing rules. This approach will have far more success than thinking that we can solve everything by penalising the business sector to make up for the poor decisions of the past.
What do you think? At British BIDs, we would love to hear about the measures your business community has helped to help create and promote a safer evening and late night economy. We will circulate ideas and comments to all town and city centres, as well as to local councils and government. Get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Danger of BIDs Becoming The Establishment
When I look back on 2016, I can’t help but feel that it will be viewed within the context of future history as a tumultuous year.
Two seismic events dominate. – Firstly, the vote by the UK to leave the EU; secondly, the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States.
It may be that the two events are entirely unconnected. But, I tend towards the view that the outcome of both votes results from a backlash against the establishment. How many people voting to leave the EU never thought it would happen but saw it as an opportunity to give those in Whitehall a ‘bloody nose’? And, how many Americans viewed Hilary Clinton as the embodiment of an elite and voted for a famed businessman with no political experience who felt that he could say anything he wanted under the guise of shock TV star status?
Rumours are that it might be the French who demonstrate next by voting to shift dramatically to the Right be electing Marine Le Pen as their new President later this year, having dismissed the glitz and glamour associated with former President Sarkozy in the early rounds.
If I am right, and this is about people across nations using their democratic right to revolt against the old guard, it could be a serious wake-up call for BIDs this year. If this wave of demonstration penetrates down from the centre and towards the local, our Councillors will be next affected and, perhaps, our BIDs also, as both are subject to elections for their survival.
As I see it, the threat is for those BIDs who continue only to provide exclusively management services to their areas that, over time, could be seen to be part of the ‘norm’. If a BID has to continually remind its levy payers that “we are not the Council”, this probably isn’t a good sign. For it is this very ‘norm’ that the theory suggests people are intent on eradicating. If businesses follow the public’s lead, they will be looking for the unpredictable, the unconventional, the exciting, even the dangerous.
All of this is in the context of us seeing more newly developing and renewing BIDs going to ballot in 2017 than ever before. Businesses are, understandably, looking at costs and they need to be sure that, by voting to start new or continue with existing BIDs, they are getting real value for money, not things that may become or have already become ‘wallpaper’.
I suggest that it will be those BIDs that seek out change, that are brave enough to adopt ever more entrepreneurial approaches to issues, which will not only survive but truly prosper. It will involve our industry moving beyond mere service delivery through leading on redefining locations as exciting, changing places that people want to be.
In summary, the wider BID community is now well placed to be able to raise its game again and differentiate itself from the ‘establishment’. Indeed many BIDs are already doing so. But it will become essential if the trends of the 2016 revolt continue.
Bridging the Digital Divide with OurLocal.Town
View Our Local.Town here on our suppliers portal.
The below blog is written by Mark Brodermann, OurLocal.Town
The Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index published in 2014 said it was vital for Small Businesses and High Streets to be able to.
- Send and receive emails, understand social media and talk Business to Business and Business to Consumer.
- The use of search engines and local searches
- To make and receive payment online
- The ability to build and maintain a website and optimise it for different devices.
- 43% of small businesses have no website.
- 98% of small businesses have no online shop.
- 62% of customers would rather shop locally
And yet walking in the high street are
- 68% UK adults that have a smartphone
- 58% internet traffic is mobile
- 74% buy goods online
Look at the market you are potentially missing!
OurLocal.Town work closely with many BIDs, Shopping centres, Markets, Town Centres and Business groupings. We fully appreciate that there is not a single digital solution and it is important to be mindful of cost, existing infrastructure, investment and requirements. It is not always about reinventing the wheel but improving existing.
We have a suite of products that can be bought individually or as one package allowing groupings to
- Provide websites for all their members
- Communicate Business to Business
- Communicate Business to Consumer
- Provide Directories and Events Calendars
- And more.
As the Mary Portas’s paper said-
‘Our High Streets Still Matter’
- Imagine your High Street in 20 years from now and build on that goal.
- Embrace the web and help your retailers make money online.
- Try Community Hubs.
- Don’t worry about Out Of Town competition – take them on!
- Implement web based resources.
- Use a website, app and market to galvanise businesses and provide income to support the Town Team and management of the town centre
For further information or to demonstrate what we can do. The Digital Toolkit demo is best done online and takes no more that 30 minutes.
020 8133 8654
When is a BID Ballot not a BID Ballot?
There is often confusion between the various forms of BID ballot that can take place and it is question that we are frequently asked at British BIDs. I thought that a brief note might help clarify.
According to the BID Regulations, a BID ballot is when BID Proposals are put before an electorate (those businesses that will be subject to the BID) for the first time.
To be a Renewal Ballot, the same arrangements are presented with only the dates of the term being different; the start date of the renewed term would be one day after expiry of the current term. But, be warned, almost every ‘renewal’ is not in fact a renewal since the BID changes something about itself, most usually the area or the levy rules. Therefore, if the Regulations are interpreted to the letter, almost every ‘renewal’ ballot is, in fact, not a renewal at all – it is really a new ballot. This is important, as the level of detail required within the BID Proposal for a new ballot compared to a renewal ballot is much, much greater.
A re-ballot is something that no one should ever want to have to run. It is where a ballot has failed and the Proposer decides to re-present the Proposal to the electorate again. In simple terms, the Proposer is saying “I didn’t get the answer that I wanted last time, so I am going to ask you the question again” (and again and again, maybe, until you give me the ‘right’ answer). It is my own view that good practice should dictate that Proposers should wait a minimum of, say, 6 to 12 months before trying again and should then come forward with a newly researched Proposal rather than a regurgitation of what failed last time.
Finally, for completeness, an Alteration Ballot is where the Proposer of an operating BID places before their now levy payers (previously their electorate) a Proposal to change something about the BID arrangements, most usually an alteration to the BID area or to the levy rate. The Regulations state, for example, that an Alteration Ballot must be held if any change to the BID levy means any increase for existing levy payers and/or a liability upon someone who was not previously a levy payer. The Proposal in an Alteration Ballot is to alter the existing arrangements; meaning that a ‘no’ vote means the status quo is maintained.
So, in summary, every BID needs a ballot and, if successful, should want to seek a renewal ballot, although it might not be a renewal. No Proposer should ever want a re-ballot as it means “I have already failed at least once before”. And an Alteration Ballot is something that should be an absolute last resort.
There you go, simple!
If subscribers to Bb need further clarification, please feel free to contact us
Written by Paul Clement, British BIDs Director.
“We can’t go on together with suspicious minds”
When I started the Certificate in BID Management with British BIDs I never could have predicted that the words of Elvis would have been so relevant.
Anyone familiar with BIDs will be familiar with the principle of “additionality”. Simply put, BIDs should be about doing more, doing better or providing new services over and above what the local council or anyone else is providing.
Here’s the thing. How do we make sure that what the BID does is additional when all around us the context in which the BID operates is in a state of continual flux? An over-simplistic way of understanding additionality is to express it as a product of our expectations for our place, the extent to which those expectations are or are not being met and the ability of different partners to contribute something to help meet those expectations. The gap then will be the additional bit the levy payers chose to fill through the formation of a BID.
But it’s not is it because things change and, in the current climate, none more so than the ability of the public sector to continue to provide services at the level they once did.
Arguably, in the history of BIDs in this country, this has never been more true than now when cuts in funding to the public sector are so dramatic causing councils up and down the country to review what they can and can’t do. That applies to both statutory and non-statutory functions – I even heard about a group of residents recently rallying around to privately fund their own waste collection service in response to cuts made by their council.
All this adds up to a major challenge to BIDs and how they understand and respond in the interest of their levy payers to ensure their expectations are met and the place they do business is attractive and competitive.
What my dissertation as part of the Certificate in BID Management taught me was this. Additionality is not about slavish adherence to a Baseline Statement written at one point in time and bringing it out to bash over the head of the local authority you suspect of making cuts because they can and there’s a BID there to pick up the slack and what can you do about it anyway.
Additionality is an important and fundamental principle made in good faith that is subject to change and re-interpretation by an educated BID Board and practitioners working collaboratively with partners in order to ensure fairness wins out, levy payers are protected and places thrive.
That is something everyone wants.
One thing is for sure, this can only be achieved through a healthy working relationship not with suspicious minds.
Thanks Elvis….and British BIDs.
Written by Steve Sawyer, Executive Director, Manor Royal BID
Does revaluation = alteration?
Guess what the most frequently asked question of British BIDs has been in the last week or so: “what, if anything, should I do about the revaluation of Business Rates in my BID area”.
Whilst all proposed RVs could be subject to appeals – and so draft lists may alter dramatically – the rates announcement has seen quite dramatic shifts up and down the country. In some areas of London values have increased by up to 400%, elsewhere they have fallen by up to 50%.
For BIDs, this can mean enormous shifts in income, some facing a potential embarrassment of riches, and others facing overheads that exceed income. For any BID facing renewal in 2017, it is easy to think that the problem can be solved by a realignment of the levy rate applied to the RV, but in places where values have fallen, levy payers may be inclined to think that a hike in the rate applied is inequitable with a place where the value of doing business has been shown to have declined. For those where RVs have increased, a cap may be a consideration before a reduction in the levy rate is decided upon.
Those at the extremes of the changes may be proposing to hold an Alteration Ballot to remedy the situation. So far, there has been only one such Alteration Ballot, and it’s important to understand the rules that apply and the risks that it introduces.
Assuming a BID has a full variation policy, the only things that cannot be varied according to the Regulations are (a) the geographical area, and/or (b) anything that means that anyone previously not liable for the levy becomes liable, and/or (c) anything that leads to an increase in the levy for any person.
So, the devil is in the detail. Given that the changes to RVs will be hereditament by hereditament rather than place by place, not all buildings affected in any one BID area will have changed by the same percentage. So, according to the Regulations, and dependent on each BID’s individual levy rules, if only one levy payer ends up paying £1 more after any change to the levy rate, an Alteration Ballot must be held.
An Alteration Ballot is held amongst all levy payers and the same rules apply to any first or renewal ballot. The BID must propose the business case by way of a proposal; the Council must operate a 28-day postal ballot; for the proposal to succeed a majority by number and rateable value must be achieved. If a dual key majority is not achieved, the status quo remains.
The potential risk, therefore, is the cost and inconvenience of a ballot that fails. Then businesses are disorientated, start to doubt the BID, and its otherwise excellent work is undermined. Apart from this, time and money is spent to retain the status quo, and a potentially negative issue is given the highest possible prominence.
So, is an Alteration Ballot the answer? Hopefully, as I have explained, it’s probably a last-resort solution and needs to be extremely carefully considered before any decision is taken.
British BIDs is on-hand to help its subscribers with any questions they may have.
Thanks for reading.
I’m not one of those people who feels the need to tell everyone on social media what I had for breakfast or what I’m doing at the weekend. Also, I wouldn’t usually broadcast what I’m doing at work or who I met yesterday. But, just occasionally, you have one of those days that you simply have to tell everyone about. The 12th October was one of those days for me.
Together with Andy Godfrey (Alliance Boots), John Fletcher (Nationwide), Marc Myers (intu), Mel Richardson and Professor Christopher Turner (expert industry practitioners), I spent the day listening and watching presentations of research projects carried out by the Certificate in BID Management candidates for 2016.
Topics we touched upon included the role of BIDs in the wider economic development mainstream, their influence in place making, the future of baselines, their contribution to the funding gap with public spaces, neighbourhood planning issues, the importance of disaster recovery arrangements, policing, influence over major capital projects, and the key attributes required of those managing BIDs. It was a packed day – including the presentations of 9 research projects – but I loved every single minute of it. It felt like the most exciting race across almost every area of BIDs that I could possibly think of. My head was left buzzing with more and more questions. How I wish yesterday was tomorrow and I could look forward to it all over again.
During the past 6 months, the CiBM candidates have participated in tutorials and workshops on BID Regulations, the history and background to BIDs, human resources, financing, marketing, communications, private versus public spaces, management techniques, and so much more. They have covered a wider group of topics than every before. They have all worked so hard.
I was left thinking “what a long way our industry has come…..how far BIDs have now gone beyond the clean, green and safe agenda……and what a magnificent contribution these 9 people will make to the big conversation about where we all go from here.
Well done and thank you to everyone for a brilliant day. Roll on 2017!
Written by Paul Clement, British BIDs Director.
It’s been a privilege to audit two BIDs in the last few months both of whom have demonstrated their commitment to good governance and delivering a great service to their levy payers.
The BID accreditation process is really beneficial and not just because of the final award … although no shame in that being the goal! The questions on the application form encourage you to review your procedures and policies. This makes perfect sense. But given that most people think governance is dull, it’s probably something that doesn’t happen very often. Just gathering the evidence is a cathartic exercise and allows you to assess what you have in place and identify any gaps.
It’s tempting to live with documentation and systems that may have been introduced rapidly when your BID was being developed .. but ask yourself whether these are still fit for purpose, reflect your current activities, are protecting your directors and giving your levy payers who are your clients, the best possible service.
Signing up for accreditation makes you challenge these existing processes, review and revise them. It makes you think really carefully about how your organisation is run and how you manage performance. It will give you peace of mind and reassurance that the systems you have in place are as robust as they need to be as well as being proportionate to the size of your BID. After all, BIDs need good governance like any well run business but no-one wants to create an overly bureaucratic BID, recognising that BIDs are private sector led.
Every BID Manager will learn from going through accreditation and it’s also a worthwhile process for the team as a whole. What has stood out to me during the auditing process is how the evidence supplied demonstrates just how integral the staff are to the success of the BID. It’s the staff who foster those key relationships and communications between the Board and the levy paying businesses that ensures that the BID delivers on its promises. The accreditation process brings this to the fore and getting the award reflects the team’s success.
The question around return on investment is one that is thought provoking and let’s face it, not easy for many BIDs to demonstrate. But get it right and you have some valuable information when it comes to your next renewal. Accreditation will give levy payers the confidence that their funds are well managed by a professional BID company meeting Industry Criteria which is a big tick when you are out there canvassing.
I’ve found being an auditor very rewarding and I’ve learnt a lot too by being part of the process. It’s great to see BIDs being rewarded for offering exemplary service and for putting their levy payers at the heart of everything they do. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to applaud people who achieve high standards by taking part on the panel for the next CIBM Assessment in October.
Written by Mel Richardson, British BIDs Accreditation Auditor. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Mel!