Halifax businesses received cross-party support from Calderdale Council at the Economic & Investment panel meeting on Tuesday 21 July for the development of a Business Improvement District. This decision means that the project can be led by Marketing Halifax, the business forum which represents businesses from across the town.
Tracy Harvey, Managing Director at Harveys of Halifax and member of Marketing Halifax said ‘This is great news and provides a unique opportunity for businesses to take a real role in shaping the future of the town and build upon the unique strengths of Halifax to make it an even better place to work, visit and have a business’.
A Business Improvement District or BID is a defined area where rate-paying businesses decide on improvements to their area; they then vote on a plan and agree to invest in the delivery of activities which directly impact upon their business turnover and profit. This money is then ring-fenced to provide the improvements agreed through the BID plan and can be used to generate other revenue to boost the pot of money available to deliver the plan.
‘There are now over 200 BIDs in the UK,’ said Tracy, ‘and where they exist the towns have proven to deliver real benefits to businesses. Leeds businesses successfully secured a BID for the city centre in February which will generate around £10 million over the next five years and will give businesses a direct influence on key issues which effect their business environment.’
Tracy also went on to say, “As a business we strive to do all that we are able to make Harveys of Halifax as a place as appealing, engaging and supportive as we can. The development of a BID in Halifax is a really exciting project. We have a wonderful town here with some great assets but we are not very good at shouting about them. We are really lucky to have buildings such as the Piece Hall, which is currently in the middle of a heritage lottery funded transformation into a high quality visitor attraction and we have the wonderful Borough Market with its exquisite Victorian architecture and great range of fresh food stalls.”
“If, with a BID, we can cherish and build on what we have”, continued Tracy, “Halifax will act as an even greater magnet for skilled people, great businesses and visitors from far away, as well as being a fantastic place for the people who live here.”
Marketing Halifax have appointed pfbb UK, who are specialists in the development and delivery of Business Improvement Districts across the UK. pfbb will provide Marketing Halfiax with the expertise to support the team on the ground.’
Ian Ferguson, Director of pfbb UK said “The BID ensures a sustainable way of creating a cohesive plan with funds to invest in the area that helps develop the town as a destination and as a great place to do business.”
There are a number of BID areas which have been operating for more than five years and have gone through a renewal ballot. In most cases those BIDs going on to a second term have received an even greater endorsement in the vote than they did the first time. BIDs have brought significant improvements to the trading environment of the businesses based in these locations.
The lifetime of the BID is prescribed by BID Regulations and is set at no more than 5 years. It is possible for a BID to be extended by proposing a new Business Plan at the end of the BID lifetime for a fresh formal vote by the businesses.
The purposes of a BID are to provide new or expanded works and services or environmental enhancements within the prescribed BID area, funded via a BID Levy charge. All services/improvements will be additional to those already provided by Calderdale Council. This charge is payable by non-domestic rate payers and is collected in much the same way as business rates. The BID levy is normally around 1 to 2% of rateable value to ensure a fair means of calculating the charge.
A non-profit making BID Company is set up, run by the businesses in the town and has the responsibility of ensuring that all the levy monies are used to deliver the project identified in the BID plan which the businesses voted on.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Cllr Barry Collins, said: “Town centres across the country are facing many challenges, so we want to make sure we do all we can to give businesses the best chance to survive and thrive in Halifax.
“If Halifax becomes a Business Improvement District, it will help future-proof the town centre, providing investment opportunities to improve the environment and encouraging visitors to the town centre.”
Tracy Harvey agreed, saying, “With the increasing amount of on-line shopping, the way in which we all use our towns and cities is different now to what it was even ten years ago. Halifax is not alone in facing these changes and we have to look to the future. The BID will give us that ability to apply all our commercial minds to the way we want our great town to be and how we take advantage of new opportunities.”
As this affects all businesses in the town there will be an extensive programme of surveys, individual meetings, workshops and forums to provide opportunities for businesses to identify the key challenges they face, the priorities and potential solutions.
The first meeting for all businesses to learn more about the BID and how they can get involved over the next year, will be at the end of September.