Decision date looms for five-year extension of BID

Liz Hickingbotham and Rachael Wilkinson from the Lancaster BID launch the Love Local campaign.
Liz Hickingbotham and Rachael Wilkinson from the Lancaster BID launch the Love Local campaign.
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Businesses in Lancaster have just a few days left to vote on whether to keep the city’s Business Improvement 
District (BID) for a further five years.

Voting closes to extend the BID until 2021 on November 25 at 5pm.

Liz Hickingbotham, BID manager, said it was important that people cast their vote to ensure their opinion is heard.

A new BID is estimated to be worth around £5m to Lancaster city centre.

She said: “In an ideal world, every eligible business will register a vote one way or the other and the Lancaster BID will then be confident that we are in place to represent the genuine majority of businesses in the city centre.

“In the same way as a General Election, failing to vote doesn’t affect the outcome of the ballot and simply means that your view isn’t represented.”

Lancaster’s first ever BID was introduced in 2013 to provide a collective voice for businesses in the city.

Ratepayers within the BID zone pay into a pot based on their business’ rateable value, and the money is spent on projects and campaigns aiming to increase footfall in the city. The BID said it commissioned a study to find out what firms wanted from future BID activities, with comments including targeting improvements to individual streets, developing a parking strategy for Lancaster so shoppers can stay longer, Bank Holiday events, regular street entertainment on Market Square plinth, subsidised marketing opportunities for BID members, crime reduction initiatives, meaningful events from a range of different retail sectors, training for business skills and lobbying on behalf of the businesses.

Liz added: “If the BID ballot in unsuccessful, there will be no funds available to continue the work that we have already started.

“Everything that we have invested time and money into since 2013 will cease and there will be no-one else to take these up without the BID.

“One of the greatest assets that the BID offers is not monetary, though.

“The opportunity to gather together and speak to partners in the city as a single voice is priceless, and this may be the greatest potential loss to the businesses in the city.”

BID will receive the result of the vote on November 26.

From the research we commissioned we asked you what you wanted from future BID activities. The list below highlights what you said you would like to see for the future of the BID, in order of importance, as suggested by you. If you VOTE YES, we will work on these proposals as priority issues for the Lancaster Business Community in the 2016–2021.

ü Targeted improvements to individual streets

ü Developing a parking strategy for Lancaster so shoppers can stay longer

ü Bank holiday events

ü Regular street entertainment on Market Square Plinth

ü Subsidised marketing opportunities for BID members

ü Crime reduction initiatives

ü Meaningful events from a range of different retail sectors

ü Training for business skills

ü Lobbying on behalf of the businesses

We need more than 50 per cent by number AND by rateable value

16. What if I don’t vote?

Much like a general election, there is no minimum turnout for a BID. So if you

don’t vote, the ballot will be decided by the number of votes cast.

17. What if most businesses vote no?

Very simply, the projects set out in this BID Business Plan will not go ahead and

many of the projects delivered to date, including marketing and promotion, will

stop. As a result, Lancaster will quickly fall behind other nearby centres,

especially those with established BIDs, such as Preston, Blackpool, Blackburn and

Kendal and areas like Morecambe, where a BID is currently in its introductory

phase.

18. What if most businesses vote ‘YES’?

Just like a political election, there is no minimum turnout required. If a majority of

the businesses who vote (both in terms of total number and overall rateable

value) vote ‘YES’, all businesses in the city centre will pay into the BID, even if

they voted no.