July's Insight from Chris Turner


This month sees the next stage of the Covid reopening, and for many it cannot come soon enough. There is a slow return to normal in some BIDs, but life is still demanding in many others. Some of the key data sets for June are presented by Dr Regine Sonderland Saga of the High Streets Task Force in their regular update here and it’s always valuable to keep regularly abreast of this High Street Task Force data.

Sunday 4th July was Independents' Day UK, and this year it was more important than ever to support our local businesses. At British BIDs we are using the entire month to continue celebrating indie retailers across the country and are asking you to send us your photos and we will share them on our channels. We have also done some filming with BIDs about their Independents’ Day, so if you head to Twitter you can see them. We are planning to do some more videos this month to continue celebrating independent businesses and they are also featured as podcasts on our Spotify channel.

The latest Grimsey Review into how independent retail, hospitality & services businesses survived Covid-19, how they fared during lockdown, and the support they require to thrive in the future is being launched here. You can hear from Bill on his findings from months of interviews with independent high street businesses. Speaking ahead of the launch, Bill Grimsey said: “Smaller independent businesses had an extremely tough lockdown, but they’re emerging from the pandemic with an enhanced standing. Across the country they’re benefitting from a newfound appreciation due to their local community roots, authenticity and importance in making diverse and distinctive communities”.

Ballot results continue to impress; Aberdeen Inspired, All About Barrhead, English Riviera, Swansea, Camberley, BarrowBlackpool Tourism, East Lothian Food & Drink, FOR Cardiff, and Cheltenham were all successfully renewed, and Knaresborough was a brand-new BID. The next quarter’s BID Barometer is coming out soon, but currently we have had some sixty successful ballots since the first lockdown and only four failures. 

One of the major impacts of the pandemic is the rethinking of the high street, and clearly the move to residential is going to be an important driver of this change. John Lewis are now considering building 10,000 homes over the next decade. The department store chain is looking at sites above Waitrose supermarkets. The properties will range from studio flats to four-bedroom houses and tenants would have the option of renting the property fully furnished with the department store’s products or using their own. Some of its housing developments are expected to come with a concierge service, and many are expected to include a Waitrose convenience store as part of the development. John Lewis’s 80,000 staff could be offered discounted rents. Find more information here.

We are all starting to think and plan for the dramatically changing green and sustainability agenda. This will intensify; it is now possible that businesses could soon be facing a fresh wave of legal action holding them to account for their greenhouse gas emissions, following advances in climate science. More than 1,500 legal actions have already been brought against fossil fuel companies whose emissions over decades have played a major role in building up carbon in the atmosphere and last month, in a shock ruling, the multinational oil and gas company Shell was ordered by a court in the Netherlands to cut its emissions by 45% in the next decade. British BIDs is now working with #TogetherBand on a campaign to support the global drive to bring carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 (https://togetherband.org/); it aims to raise critical awareness of the fossil fuels crisis and empower people to take action by switching to clean energy, while actively reducing air pollution through the activation itself. They have artwork and installations of flags and banners created from recycled plastic and treated with a nano photocatalyst, and they are actively looking for BIDs to help spread awareness around the campaign and display the art for action across raised lamppost banners in the run up to COP26 at the beginning of November. 

In the next week, the 15th Business Improvement District annual survey questionnaire will be going out to each BID manager or Chief Executive, and we really hope that you are able to complete it. It is totally anonymised and is an important piece of research which provides understanding and insight into the current BID landscape. The survey provides us with an opportunity to gain an insight into how the BID industry is evolving and can be compared to previous years. We know that key industry players make use of the data. The purpose and uses of the survey are multiple; it allows a regular series of snapshots of the BID community for policy makers, both local and national; it allows Chief Executives of BIDs to benchmark themselves against their peers and colleagues; it allows Boards to benchmark and identify key performance indicators for their BIDs; it allows levy payers and members of BIDs to ensure that they are getting all the services that they should, and it allows new and developing BIDs to design their services and operations in the most effective fashion. The previous reports, from 2010 onward, are available on the British BIDs website here https://britishbids.info/services/national-bid-survey.

As part of that engagement agenda, British BIDs is now meeting quarterly with a cross section of the major national levy payers, many of whom are keen to engage further with BIDs. Some of them are interested in making sure that they have the latest up to date information on the BIDs in which they have stores, and we are starting to provide them with addresses and websites. I hope you are happy that we continue to do this; do please let us know if you are not. It’s apparent that the nationals we are engaged with are very keen to make stronger links with BIDs and are encouraging their managers to get involved if approached by BID teams. Some of our national levy payers have commented that they find it difficult to locate business plans on BID websites and for many of them seeing a virtual copy is preferable to receiving hard copies through the post due to the sheer volume of these. If you can put a download to your business plan on the website, that would be very helpful to the national head office contacts. 

As ever, our training days continue to offer great opportunities to update a wide range of different BID skills, and meet other BID managers, and our Diploma in BID Leadership and Certificate in BID Management continue to recruit, with details on our website or contact evan.gartland@britishbids.info.


Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs



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