BID celebrates first year with the promise of lots more to come
THE team behind Bradford’s Business Improvement District (BID) says it got off to a great start in its first year – but there’s a lot more to come!
The BID will hold its Annual Meeting on Tuesday (Feb 11) when it will present its first annual report to many of the 630 businesses and organisations who voted it in for a five-year term at the end of 2018.
The businesses pay a small percentage levy based on their rateable value to fund improvements and initiatives designed to rejuvenate the city centre and bring in new business and visitors.
Ian Ward, chair of the BID’s operating board, will tell the audience that it has already established itself as an “organisation which delivers.”
“We had, in reality, only about nine months in which to do so,” he said. “Immediately after the powerful, highly-favourable ballot result – with 79 per cent in favour (85 per cent by Rateable Value) – we set to work on the legal process of forming the BID company, followed by the search for and set-up of the BID office, the installation of IT equipment, and the recruitment of the BID manager and project officer.
“So it was well into February before we were able to make a proper start on the projects identified in the Business Plan and yet it feels as if we packed a whole year’s progress into the rest of 2019!”
He said that, thanks to the commitment and efforts of the BID team and Board, they had made a good start on delivering their promises for their five-year term and had received a good deal of very favourable feedback from businesses, residents, shoppers and other visitors to the city centre.
“I think we have established ourselves as a genuine agent for positive change in Bradford city centre,” said Mr Ward. “Our stand-out project has undoubtedly been the ongoing hot-washing, gum removal and deep clean of some of the city’s key thoroughfares.
“The reaction from the public, especially on social media, has been tremendous and the smarter looking streets – combined with the installation of new hanging baskets in the summer – have definitely got people talking about the city centre in a positive light.”
BID manager Jonny Noble said 2019 had been like a rollercoaster ride but with “more ups and downs – and the downs were mainly caused by bad weather!”
“We have learned a great deal in our first year – not least about the passion, pride and sheer determination to make Bradford city centre a better place that so many of our levy-payers share,” said Mr Noble
“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far and we believe the city centre is looking cleaner and greener, that the perception of safety is definitely improving, that more people are talking about what’s going on here and yet more are engaging with the activities we’ve been working on to bring our streets to life.
“Very many people have really understood what we’re trying to do and have energetically backed our efforts. Others have been forthright (this is Bradford, after all!) in telling us how we can do things better – or just differently. Of course, we don’t always agree but all the feedback we’ve had has been valuable and listened to and will help us to improve as we go forward.”
The annual meeting will also hear about the BID’s plans for 2020 which, said Mr Noble, would be a big step forward.
“We’ve proved we can deliver and we’re looking forward with excitement to where this first year’s activity and engagement will take us over the next four years,” he said. “Bradford is on the up and the BID is determined to be a key part of that drive to put us back on the map.”
The BID’s Business Plan is split into four key strategy pillars – Clean, Safe, Alive and Promoted – which are driven by steering groups each led by a chair from the operating board.
Mr Noble set out some of the highlights of the BID’s first year:
Our five-year hot washing and deep cleaning programme is well underway, with a fabulous response – especially on social media – to the removal of graffiti, chewing gum and years of ingrained dirt and grime on some of the key footfall areas. We began the roll-out of our Make A Difference (MAD) Day programme with a very successful event as dozens of students turned out to tidy up the route from the University and College down into the city centre.
One of the BID’s key goals was to link-up with City Centre Beat and West Yorkshire Police to help reduce anti-social behaviour and our support for the Operation Straitpark street-drinking crackdown’s three-month trial, featured on BBC News, had proven results and led to its 12-month extension. We have also invested in new lighting schemes in areas such as Ivegate, Great Horton Road and Little Germany which, as well as generating a more festive feel, will help make evenings in the city centre feel safer through the winter months. The BID supported also City Centre Beat (CCB), Bradford’s business crime reduction partnership, to invest in cutting-edge “SentrySIS” technology to help members manage incidents of crime and spot offenders even before they enter a store.
The BID has begun to make an impact on drawing visitors and shoppers in through the launch of new activities such as the Mini-Mardi Gras, in Ivegate, our first Food & Drink Festival, the Pumpkin-Carving Mini Festival and Ice Sculptures on Broadway, as well as support for events such as the Family Film Festival. New hanging baskets and festive decorations are helping to bring a sense of life and vibrancy to the streets and make them a more welcoming place for all.
Partnering with Visit Bradford, The Broadway, Made in Bradford, Bradford Council and the University of Bradford, we have supported marketing of the city centre through the Sparkling Bradford initiatives both at Christmas and during the Summer, along with an extensive PR campaign to keep local people informed and engaged. The BID has lobbied strongly on behalf of levy-payers on issues such as police resources, heritage action zones, Public Space Protection Orders, and the city village plans. We have also supported the city’s first Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Awards. Free re-useable drinking bottles were given out to children at the Bradford Family Film Festival in City Park in a move to help fight plastic waste, sponsored by the BID. The initiative was aimed at encouraging people to turn their back on single use plastic bottles which are one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution globally.