City centre firms will decide on future of the BID

Christmas shopping in Market Street, Lancaster.
Christmas shopping in Market Street, Lancaster.
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Businesses in Lancaster will vote again on whether to keep the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) in situ for another five years.

Lancaster’s BID manager said the organisation would generate over £1m for city centre projects and improvements between 2016 and 2021, if businesses decided to keep it on.

The Lancaster BID was instigated by city centre businesses to promote and improve the trading environment in Lancaster.

It was set up in April 2013 and over the last two years has produced events, improved infrastructure and promoted the businesses that operate within the Lancaster BID zone in order to increase footfall and consumer spend.

Around 350 businesses in the BID zone pay a levy based on their rateable value.

Businesses pay a mandatory levy fee of 1.5 per cent of their business rates for businesses with a rateable value above £10,000 or more.

This levy fee will have generated a predicted £675,929 over the entire three year BID with an additional income of £97,151 being raised from other sources giving the BID a total predicted income of £773,080.

There are mixed feelings in Lancaster towards the BID, with some business owners arguing they don’t see any return on their contribution.

Other businesses say the BID has greatly improved the visitor experience and footfall in Lancaster.

The BID has now released its annual report and accounts, covering two years between 2013 and 2015.

It includes details on BID projects, investments and events, and conclusions on research carried out with businesses over the last few months.

Some of the improvements the BID says it has made include the “free after three” car parking initiative, increased street cleaning, footfall measurement cameras, Operation Jingle Bells, Christmas lights purchases and planting and hanging baskets.

The BID has also employed “ambassadors” who took to the streets in April to meet levy payers, listen to concerns and help with security issues.

They have been dubbed “the eyes and ears of the BID”.

The BID zone encompasses a varied selection of businesses from well-known daytime retail chains, local independent businesses, offices, leisure and hospitality, public sector businesses and the night-time economy.

The postal ballot for votes will take place between the October 28 and November 25 with the ballot results being announced on Thursday November 26.

All defined business ratepayers in the BID area will be given the opportunity to vote and establish the BID during the formal ballot period.

The ballot will be a confidential postal ballot managed by Electoral Reform Services in London.

The annual report and accounts are available from the BID’s website online at www.lancasterunlimited.org.uk.

See pages 40, 98 and 99 for more comment and information about the BID, including an interview with BID manager Liz Hickingbotham, and views from businesses.