From the blog

What is a BID and how have they grown in number?

BY PAUL CLEMENT

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have been in existence in England since 2005, medstore closely followed by legislation permitting their creation throughout the UK.

A BID is a defined commercial area in which businesses have agreed, pills buy by way of a ballot, to each contribute a small levy to provide an annual fund for improvement. There is no requirement for public money. Business rates and council taxes are unaffected and local councils continue with their activities, although increasingly in conjunction with BIDs. Each BID can last for a maximum of five years before it has to be renewed, again through a ballot of businesses.

As I write this, there are 208 BIDs across the UK, but the number is growing every day. In our area, there are BIDs in Ipswich, Bury, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Norwich and Cambridge have also developed them and Newmarket is understood to be well on the way. They won’t be the last.

According to a 2014 study by British BIDs, ballot success remained high, particularly at renewal. Almost 75,000 businesses were part of BIDs and total investment, mainly in towns and cities, exceeded £195 million a year.

Ongoing consultation by government is seeking to give proven BIDs greater autonomy and increased powers. This is not about BIDs replacing local authorities or the services that they deliver us; it is about the business community investing alongside.

Part of the reason for the rapid expansion of BIDs, which now feature in every major city in England, as well as in smaller towns and conurbations, is inevitably the financial pressures on councils. Town centre management is not a statutory service and, without BIDs, additional marketing, cleaning, security, events and physical improvements on our high streets simply would not happen.

BIDs are now an established part of the urban landscape. They are at the very heart of future economic growth. I know that every BID in Suffolk wants to work as part of a broad partnership to maximise the potential of our wonderful county and its town centres.

This article appeared in Business East in the East Anglian Daily Times on Tuesday 20 May 2015.