April's Insight from Professor Chris Turner


We have Easter ahead of us and a busy time for many BIDs, as their events and experiences come centre stage. It has also been busy in the policies arena, with parliament and Government activity on both the High Street and business rates. The Brexit agenda is also still naturally engaging the Government and business community. 

As ever we congratulate BIDs for their ballot successes, with Willow Lane renewing and Ilkley winning their first ballot. Unfortunately, Wellingborough's renewal ballot was unsuccessful. Both Milngavie and St. Ives will know their results this week.

The Professional Development Day, kindly hosted by Watford BID last week, was a great success. Discussions covered partnership working between the local authority, the BID and Intu, along with case studies and advice on how to conduct a health check on your place. We were fortunate to be joined by Tesco, who detailed their criteria for supporting ballots. The afternoon study tours in the sunshine were a delight and thanks to all who attended for your positive feedback. We are already starting to plan the event for Spring 2020, and will be seeking further feedback from the industry based on last week's event.

The Treasury Select Committee on business rates and their effect on business could be a very important piece of policy work. There is always a gap between select committees and Government policy, but it may be that this time something new will emerge. Our response is available here. We do believe that the localisation of business rates, more frequent valuations, the ability to better capture the benefits of growth and reducing the inequity between High Street and online retailers, could all radically improve the existing system. 

Government is clearly interested in the High Street, as the emerging issues become starker. They have already done a number of things. In last year’s Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a business rates discount scheme for small-sized high street properties in England which have a rateable value below £51,000. Under the plan, small firms will receive a one-third discount on their rates bills from April 1 2019 for the next two years. These reduced bills are going out now. 

At the same time, more than 300 applications from local authorities across the country have been received for a share of the £675 million Future High Streets Fund to transform their local High Streets into modern vibrant community hubs. We know that BIDs have been engaged with many applications. Such applications will be assessed and some allowed to go forward to the next stage. 

These applications, and further support, will be provided by a new body.  The High Streets Task Force will provide a single place for local leaders in High Streets and town centres to access support and guidance. This will help them in developing and implementing high quality, evidence based, locally-led plans for their place. The Task Force will aim to increase coordination between different groups and organisations, build skills and boost Local Authority capacity through provision of expertise. The Task Force is due to commence on 1st July 2019 and the Government is putting £8.8 million into the project. 

The National BID Awards are now open and we look forward to applications from BIDs across the country. This is an opportunity for us all to celebrate and enjoy all the myriad of projects, both large and small. There are three categories: Place Marketing, Place Management and a new category introduced for 2019, Special Recognition for projects which do not sit within the Place Management or Place Marketing categories but are still worthy of recognition. Full details are here.

The 2019 National BID Survey is about to be launched, and we will be contacting BID Managers and Chief Executives directly next week with the detailed survey for completion. We believe it is now even more essential that a single coherent dataset can cover more than 315 BIDs in the British Isles and thus, this annual survey is becoming increasingly important. It continues to allow a snapshot to be taken for policy makers, both local and national; it allows BIDs and their Boards to benchmark themselves and identify key performance indicators; it allows national and local levy payers to see if they are getting value for money in all the services that they should, and finally it allows new and developing BIDs to design their services and operations in the most effective fashion. It is a key tool for the industry. The 2018 survey is available here.

As ever our widening range of training modules are taking place over the next few months on: 

  • Developing and renewing a BID
  • An introduction to BIDs
  • Delivering a successful BID ballot campaign
  • Local Authority: Setting up and monitoring a BID 
  • Governance and responsibilities of a BID Board

Do please contact drew.turner@britishbids.info for more details on these.

Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs

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