BID worth more than £1m over next five years

BID Manager Liz Hickingbotham with Rachael Wilkinson, Marketing and Events Assistant.

BID Manager Liz Hickingbotham with Rachael Wilkinson, Marketing and Events Assistant.

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In November, Lancaster will decide whether to keep its Business Improvement District (BID) for another five years.

And BID manager Liz Hickingbotham says it will be down to businesses to decide whether the BID has delivered.

She said: “If it does, rate payers will see the value and vote yes. It’s up to us to demonstrate that value. We’re talking about more than £1m over five years, and we’re looking at other funding streams as well.

“The first three years has been about building the foundations. The next five years will be about doing it more and doing it better.

“We’ve started putting together the calendar of events for 2016, and there’s some great ideas coming through, engaging with sectors we haven’t engaged with yet.”

Liz, who is based in Citylab, Dalton Square, with one other member of staff, says that a lot of her work over the last eight months in post had been behind the scenes and that it was now starting to come to fruition.

“The destination brochure took a lot of time and effort and it’s a document that we’re really proud of,” she said.

“It doesn’t cover nearly everything, but what it does do is promote what we’ve got here in Lancaster.

“It’s being distributed across the district, into Cumbria, and down the M6 corridor as far as Charnock Richard. The city council will be distributing it nationally. We want to show people who live in the periphery that it’s worth coming here.”

Liz said that two recent events – the skate ramp at Easter, and the arts and comedy festival last week – drove footfall all around Lancaster.

She has also just completed the BID’s business plan for 2016 - 2021, to be used if, of course, the BID is voted in.

She said: “In order to look forward you’ve got to look back. We’ve not been shouting about what we’ve been achieving and we need to do more of that.”

BID has recently employed its own ambassadors, described by Liz as “the eyes and ears of the BID”.

She said: “We’re working with Castlegate Security in Lancaster. We’re paying for them to have a presence in the city. They’re picking up grot spots and cleansing problems, and supporting businesses with theft issues. They have a community radio to communicate with PCSOs and rate payers. That relationship is proving to be fabulous.”

Liz says that some of the main issues for businesses in the city centre are litter, flytipping, and maintenance.

She said: “Business owners are cleaning up the mess that’s falling out of the bins outside their premises, because the bins are in a poor state of repair. I’m talking to the council to try and find a solution.

She added that the “free after three” parking initiative at Christmas also went down well with businesses and shoppers.

“The city gained a lot of positive PR from that.The businesses needed the BID to rattle a few cages and in a short space of time we managed to negotiate that. It’s undecided whether we’ll do it again.”