Your questions answered on the Cheltenham BID

Monday September 14, 2015

© Visit Cheltenham

© Visit Cheltenham

Just what is a Business Improvement District and what could it mean for Cheltenham? In the first in a series of updates for businesses, in which we ask for your views, we hope to answer a few commons questions about what is being proposed.

What is a Business Improvement District or BID?
A BID is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area. Most are governed by a board made up of BID levypayers who represent the BID area. It means businesses have a genuine voice and decide and direct what they want for the area.

Is there business support towards a BID in Cheltenham?
The Cheltenham Business Partnership recently led a survey to ask town centre businesses about creating a BID in central Cheltenham. responses were received from almost 100 businesses, which overwhelmingly supported a project of this type being taken forward.

How would a BID help my business?
There are more than 200 BIDs already operating across the UK, with the majority focusing on town or city centres. Businesses say the benefits they have brought include:

  • Businesses decide and direct major projects that they want for their area
  • Promotion of their town
  • Increased footfall
  • Improved staff retention
  • Networking opportunities with neighbouring businesses
  • Assistance in dealing with the council, police and other public bodies

What type of projects are being considered?
The survey responses suggested that improvement plans for Cheltenham should focus around:

  • Marketing & promotion
  • Parking incentives
  • Further town centre events
  • Public realm improvements
  • Signage other ideas are encouraged as part of our on-going consultation.

How are BIDs funded and set up?
A BID is funded by businesses paying a small proportion (typically of between 1% and 1.5%) of their business rateable Value towards the BID. this money is then ring-fenced for use only in the BID area – unlike business rates which go to and are re-distributed by Government. A BID can only be formed following consultation and a ballot in which businesses vote on a business plan.

How much would it cost my business?
A levy of 1.25% is being considered in Cheltenham, which means that a small business with a rateable value of £10,000 would contribute £125 per year, a medium sized business with a rateable value of £75,000 would contribute £937.50 per year and a large business with a rateable value of £150,000 would contribute £1,875 per year.

How much money would be generated?
The survey suggested a BID area that includes approximately 660 businesses. this would generate approximately £480,000 per year. BIDs are also often successful in gaining additional funding. they are attractive to public sector grant-making bodies who are encouraged to match-fund money raised by the private sector through the BID.

How does the ballot work?
It is run by the council on behalf of local businesses or outsourced to a third party. all businesses that would pay the levy have a minimum of 28 days to vote. for a BID to go ahead the ballot must be won on two counts – a straight majority and majority of rateable value. there is no minimum turnout threshold.

Which area would be covered?
The survey suggested that the main town centre, including the Brewery and the montpellier area should be included. however, the area proposed remains open to consultation.

Would all businesses be liable to pay the BID levy?
In principle yes, although an exemption level of £7,500 is being considered which means that very small businesses which fall under this threshold would not be liable to pay the levy. A lower levy is also being considered for businesses within managed shopping areas and those that currently pay the night-time levy.

Isn’t this just a stealth tax?
The BID would be established to carry out projects over and above anything currently happening or planned in Cheltenham so would deliver added value and activity in the key areas identified. as the BID board is made up of BID levy payers, they would be tasked to represent the businesses’ wishes.

When could this happen?
The current proposals are for a Business Plan to be produced before the end of the year, which all eligible businesses would vote on in spring 2016, with a view to a BID being created in early-summer 2016 – subject to a positive business vote.

How long would a BID last?
The maximum term for any BID is 5 years and we are proposing this timescale in Cheltenham. this would generate more than £2.4 million.

So how can I give you my views?
We want the views of as many businesses as possible in helping shape the proposals and would urge you to get in touch with us via the following email address: info@cheltenhambid.co.uk

Or please contact: Martin Quantock – BID Project Manager
T: 07900 905236
E: info@cheltenhambid.co.uk
More details are available on the Cheltenham Business Partnership website at www.cheltenhambp.org.uk/news

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