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Business Improvement Districts for town centres and tourism

On 09/07/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have existed in the UK since 2003. There are now over 185, mainly in town and city centres, where businesses fund additional services to improve and market their local area. Over £40 million per annum has been raised by local BID member businesses and they are a great example of partnership working. At a recent presentation I made in Southport to the British Destinations Association, I found that several destinations are now looking to establish Tourism BIDs (or T-Bids) -certainly something of interest to brewing and pubs.

Nottingham had the first BID dedicated to the night-time economy and although this has now been absorbed into the retail BID, nightlife in Nottingham remains a key focus. Their budget, paid for by a levy of 1% on business rate payers, raised about £260,000 a year. It supported events like the food and drinks festival; it paid for taxi marshals on Friday and Saturday nights; it introduced and supported Best Bar None and commissioned murals for vacant units in the city centre.

Tourism BIDs are slightly different. Conventional BIDs tend to be in fairly narrowly defined local authority areas. TBIDs can cover a much wider geographical spread. Normally in a BID, all businesses situated within a specific area make a contribution which is between 1% and 4% of rateable value. Whilst the contribution might not change, in a TBID the criteria can be based on footfall, revenue per available room or sales and the contributors can be defined by the type of service they provide and the sector within which they operate.

So why is this important to brewers and publicans? Well, pubs are important to all tourism destinations and third on the list of things to do for overseas visitors to the UK. A vibrant night-time economy is also important to tourist destinations, as is a range of retail and leisure outlets on their high street. Dartmoor, Great Yarmouth, Greenwich, Cornwall, Bournemouth Coastal, Birmingham & Solihull are all looking at establishing TBIDs to help them enhance their destination and make them more attractive to visitors.

Yesterday I was in Bournemouth to attend the next meeting of the Future High Streets Forum, chaired by Brandon Lewis MP, our Minister for Pubs. Business Improvement Districts form one of a suite of ways of working in partnership which the BBPA supports – so much better than a Late Night Levy!


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