Council backs plans to set up city improvement district plan
Leeds City Council has given its backing to plans to set up a Business Improvement District (BID) in the city centre.
Council chiefs have agreed to support the private sector led development of a Leeds BID in principle, believing it will strengthen the city's ability to improve and promote Leeds City Centre as a leading European business location.
At a meeting of the executive board today senior councillors heard that a successful Leeds City Centre BID could generate direct investment for the city centre up to £2.6m annually.
Over 170 Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are operating in towns and cities throughout the UK including Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle. Leeds is the largest city not to have a BID in the UK.
For a Business Improvement District to be established, a ballot of businesses – those within the boundary and eligible to pay the levy - must deliver a majority vote in favour. The BID works by agreeing to introduce a levy that is collected through the business rate. Local organisations in the BID have the power to raise funds to be spent locally, with the aim of improving their own business environment. BIDs may use funds to pay for additional services, over and above those provided by the public sector, such as security, events and marketing to attract visitors, signage, skills and employment initiatives. With a BID the council would commit to an operating agreement to provide a baseline of services, to which the BID could add to.
Senior Leeds councillors also supported the principle of small businesses, within the BID boundary, to be exempt from paying additional rates but not to be excluded from the benefits that the proposed BID would bring.
The plan for a Leeds City Centre BID to be launched from April 1 2015. In the next phase of developing a BID, there will be formal consultation covering the proposed BID boundary, levy rate and threshold enabling a final business plan to be produced based on the feedback. A city centre wide ballot of businesses to vote for or against setting up a BID is planned to be held in November 2014.
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member for development and the economy, said:
"Now is an ideal time to consider how the private and public sector can work together in different ways to boost the city economy. It is important that the city seizes the opportunity of a step change brought about by key developments of Leeds Arena, Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate to seriously explore the establishment of a city centre BID.
"BIDs are a proven mechanism for driving local-led improvements that sit beyond the scope of councils, and in Leeds it could be a catalyst for further investment and strengthen the city's ability to compete nationally and internationally for jobs and growth. It's an exciting proposition and we look forward to a full BID proposal coming forward from our private sector partners."
Proposals for a Leeds City Centre Business Improvement District have been developed by the private sector lead by the Leeds, Yorks and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. Further information can be found www.leedsbid.co.uk
Details of the council's executive board report about the Leeds City Centre BID can be found at http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s111487/BID%20Cover%20Report%20240314.pdf
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