A BUSINESS Improvement District (BID) is to be launched in Bradford after city centre businesses gave it a massive YES! vote in a month-long postal ballot.
More than 630 businesses were asked to vote on setting up the BID, which plans to raise £2.5 million to spend on projects to boost the city centre over the next five years.
In all, 79 per cent of those who took part in the ballot voted in favour. The vote represented 85 per cent of the total rateable value of the properties owned and managed by those who voted.
Under the BID regulations, more than 50 per cent of those who take part in the ballot, representing more than 50 per cent of the total rateable value, need to support the scheme for it to go ahead.
Ian Ward, chairman of the BID development board, said: “This is a fantastic result for the BID team who have put in a massive amount of work over a period of almost two years to get to this point.
“But, more importantly, this is fantastic news for Bradford. We’ve said from the start that the city should have had a BID in place years ago and our survey of local businesses a year ago supported that.
“With so many exciting things happening in Bradford, and a real ethos emerging of businesses in every sector working together to drive the city’s growth agenda, the retail and services heart of our great community is perfectly primed for the benefits the BID will bring.
“We can’t wait to get stuck into the projects that businesses have identified as the key issues for the BID to tackle.”
BID joint deputy chair Sandy Needham, chief executive of Bradford Chamber, added: “The BID will bring together some money, true collaboration and additional activity that could make a real difference to Bradford.”
Mr Ward paid tribute to the BID team, drawn from city centre companies and organisations, for their efforts in helping to generate a Yes vote.
“A huge amount of hard work has gone in since the start of this project,” said Mr Ward. “I have been involved in BIDs elsewhere and I have to say the team in Bradford has been fantastic. I’d like to thank them and all the other businesses and organisations that have given us incredible support in bringing this to fruition.
“And, of course, I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has voted to make the Bradford BID happen.
“But, realistically, we have achieved nothing concrete yet. The hard yards start now. There is a vast amount to be done and we will need to draw on every ounce of commitment and determination we can muster to ensure we do our very best for the city in the years to come.”
Many city centre business leaders are already celebrating the news the BID is to go ahead.
Trevor Higgins, chief executive of Bradford Breakthrough, who is also joint deputy chair of the BID, said: “I am absolutely blown away by this result. It offers fantastic opportunities for Bradford city centre businesses to help shape the future of the city centre.”
Mark Cowgill, co-founder and director of Exa Networks, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the businesses of Bradford have decided to back the BID with a resounding ‘YES.’ Exa and I have been fully supporting the BID since we heard about it and can’t wait to see the impact that it will have on the city over the coming years.”
Kamran Rashid, co-founder of 30 Chapel Street, in Little Germany, said: “This is another great breakthrough for Bradford that demonstrates that we are a city on the up. The Bradford BID, like other great initiatives in the city, gives the city a renewed confidence. Our message to those outside the city is simple, Bradford means business, come join us.”
Catherine Riley, manager at the Kirkgate Centre, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Bradford businesses have voted overwhelmingly in support of the BID. Now is Bradford’s time to show the best of partnership working. We look forward to working with the BID team over the next five years to make Bradford a cleaner, safer and more vibrant city.”
The BID team will now start the process of establishing it as a legal entity, a company limited by guarantee. It will take about a month to establish the operating board, appoint a BID manager and set up an office and then its work will begin in earnest in the new year.
It expects to collect about £2.5 million over five years through a levy on businesses with a rateable value of more than £12,000. A small business valued at £15,000 will pay just £3.61 a week and a business with an RV of £65,000 will pay £15.63 weekly.During its five-year term, it will work on improving the cleanliness and general appearance of the city centre, help to ensure it feels safe and inviting, organise and support new attractions and events, market and promote the city to local, regional and national audiences and provide a voice for businesses to lobby for more investment.
The ballot result was welcomed by Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, who said: “This is fantastic news for Bradford. I want to congratulate all the businesses involved and particularly Ian Ward of The Broadway who has shown great leadership on this since the beginning.
“Bradford BID can now help the city go from strength to strength. We’ve already seen a similar scheme work really well in Keighley. It’s great news for businesses because it means they can spend the money on the things they know will make Bradford an ever more attractive place to visit.”
David Baldwin, chair of the Bradford Economic Partnership, said: “The vote in favour of setting up the BID is brilliant news for the city and city centre businesses in particular. It’s a major step forward for Bradford and it’s a genuine sign that the business community is starting to pull together to drive initiatives that will make a real difference.
“The BID has a clear vision and an exciting raft of projects that will help to revitalise the city centre and contribute greatly to our efforts to market Bradford as a destination for inward investment and help deliver real growth. Many, many congratulations to the BID team and development board who’ve done a fabulous job in getting this off the ground.”