Leeds city centre BID ballot given green light
Businesses in Leeds city centre are to be balloted in the new year over plans to create a new body to help improve and promote the area.
A meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board has backed the latest proposals to create a Business Improvement District (BID) in the city centre. The new body named BID4Leeds would be a private sector-led partnership of city centre businesses and landowners through Leeds Chamber of Commerce, supported by public sector organisations including Leeds City Council.
Its aims would be to improve and promote the city centre as a successful business location, a source of job creation, a place to study and as a leading retail, leisure, cultural and visitor destination.
The new body would be funded from a levy paid by all businesses and land occupiers in the identified district, raising up to £2million annually for an initial five-year period. The levy would be set at 1.25 per cent of rateable value, with an exemption for premises with a rateable value of below £60,000.
The council’s executive board endorsed the BID’s business plan and also approved an agreement on services in the city centre it would continue to provide if the BID is successful at ballot.
The next stage of the BID process is to carry out a ballot of all businesses and landowners in the city centre on the proposals, which is planned to take place in February.
If a majority of the potential levy payers support the proposals (both by rateable value and by number of those who voted) the BID could start in April 2015.
Aims of the proposed BID business plan include:
- Improving the welcome and brand of Leeds city centre to attract more visitors
- Enhancing the experience of people visiting and working in the city centre
- Making the city centre street environment more attractive
- Supporting a high-quality events programme in the city centre
- Strengthening Leeds as a business location through improved business intelligence, volunteering and skills projects
All potential levy payers have been contacted about what they would want from a BID during the feasibility and consultation stages of the BID development process. This has been via numerous channels including meetings, presentations, workshops and online. This feedback has been collated into an overall summary issued to businesses over the summer inviting further comment or ideas and has formed the backbone of the 2015-2020 BID4Leeds business plan.
Leeds City Council executive member for transport and the economy, Councillor Richard Lewis, said:
“The feedback we have received so far from all stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. By combining resources, knowledge and skills, private and public sectors can come together to make Leeds city centre stronger, be more attractive and welcoming and offer benefits across a range of industries.
“Business Improvements Districts have proven very successful elsewhere and I’m sure Leeds would be the same so we look forward to now seeing the result of the ballot in the new year.”
John Bywater, Chairman of BID4Leeds, said:
‘I see the BID as an important step for Leeds city centre to create coordinated leadership and to secure investment. It is an exciting time for Leeds and it is fantastic to have support from Leeds City Council for our proposed business plan, which will be issued to potential BID businesses in the near future. This business plan, if voted for in February, will help create even greater collaboration between the public and private sector in Leeds and a stronger future for our City.”
Notes to editors:
Earlier this year the executive board agreed that the council set aside up to £150,000, repayable within the first year, to help support the Chamber of Commerce in working up to the next phase in the event of a yes vote.
For more information on the BID proposals visit www.bid4leeds.com
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