October's Insight from Chris Turner


This month’s Insight continues to reflect the horrors of the economy during the pandemic. Many BIDs across the four administrations have already been subject to new lockdowns and completely unexpected closures of pubs, bars and restaurants after many months spent opening them and making them safe.

Premises in the new tiered system in England are facing tough new Covid-19 restrictions amid fears the disease is spiralling out of control. The new three-tier lockdown strategy has been brought in as infection rates continue to soar in cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. The move is another body-blow for the hard-pressed hospitality industry in the regions already reeling from the imposition of the controversial 10pm curfew. For many this has been catastrophic and reinforces the fear that many of our town centres will never return to the sort of normality that we were used to. The north of England feels very harshly treated and not just because 15 million people have been under tighter restrictions for weeks while the south has enjoyed something closer to normal life. Ironically, BIDs in smaller towns or suburbs, with many working from home and relishing the idea of the 20-minute town and the kindness economy, are performing better than expected, with takings in some specialist shops and restaurants outperforming last year’s pre-Covid levels.

For those in BIDs who need access to the local data sets they are available here, by upper and lower tier local authorities and here, for greater granularity by middle super output areas at. The current data is best accessible at the BBC site here.

Despite the pandemic, there is still much policy and development work taking place, with British BIDs responding to a range of government policy documents. We are currently involved in the issues around Community Improvement Districts and the way that BIDs as we know them may well have to work even more closely with our local communities. For many this will not be difficult; work over the pandemic with local authorities, the police, hospitals and residents and community groups has reinforced the vital role that BIDs play in many of their communities. Both Power to Change here and the Centre for London here are engaged in this.

Business support activities continue to grow in number, and Barclays are doing much by way of free accessible workshops and webinars to support BIDs in particular. Their Eagle Labs have a range of courses here. There is also an opportunity to join a bespoke webinar brought to you by Barclays, where you can find out more about the changing world of business payments and how the current environment has impacted businesses. If you would like to take part in this event please email  Jacqui.wardle2@barclayscorp.com to register your interest by close of business on 30th October 2020.  She is looking forward to hearing from you and supporting your BID.

Bb continues with its training programme – the new Diploma in BID Leadership is in full swing, the Certificate in BID Management is recruiting for next year, the annual conference is on November 5th with details here.

The events industry, which many of us use throughout the year, are highlighting their plight to government by way of the #WeMakeEvents campaign, which is calling on government to provide greater support for the live events industry in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, held a ‘day of creative action’ on September 30th and more will follow. They need our support and you can find more information here.

We have had much feedback from BIDs about the impact of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) and the taking over of inappropriate buildings, the loss of business space and the poor quality of the results. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has now announced that all new homes in England delivered through any PDR must meet space standards. PDRs allow existing buildings to be converted into housing without the need to go through a full planning application. The homes instead go through a lighter touch ‘prior approval’ process. Mr Jenrick said that these rights make an ‘important contribution’ to delivering housing, with over 60,000 homes provided over the last four years. Local authorities are generally critical of PDRs because – they argue – the rights undermine the ability of local planning departments to ensure all housing is up to a decent standard. The measures announced today will mean that all new homes in England delivered through PDRs will in the future have to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard. This is clearly good news for many.

Ballots are starting again, and we now have eight ballots coming up in the next quarter which we will clearly track and keep an eye on to see how this horrendous Covid-19 pandemic has affected levy payers’ attitudes. The next three coming up are Nottingham, Ulverston and Felixstowe and our Ballot Watch will give full details of their outcomes as they emerge.

We are at the final stages of two major projects – the Rocket Science work ‘Shaping the Future’, and the annual survey of the BID industry. My thanks to the many BIDs who have taken part in these two, and we are writing them up now. The first tranche of results will be part of the Virtual National BIDs Conference on November 5th and we shall produce a full report as soon as possible thereafter


Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs


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