BID Renewal Common Questions & Answers
We know that BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) can sometimes appear to be complicated so we hope these will answer some of your questions.
1. When and how was BID Leamington established?
BID Leamington was established in 2008 by the majority vote of businesses at the time for a 5-year term. The vision was to make ‘the crown in Royal Leamington Spa Sparkle’ by promoting and supporting businesses in the town centre and raising the profile of the town nationally. There were renewal ballots held in 2013 and 2018 and on each occasion BID Leamington was renewed for a further 5 years.
In March 2023 businesses will be invited to support its continuation for a further 5 years. If the BID is not supported for a fourth term the company will be closed by 30th June 2023 and all BID activities and services will cease.
2. Has the area the BID covers changed?
No, the BID area is the same as it was when the BID was set up in 2008. Full details can be viewed in the Business Plan on the ‘BID Renewal’ page.
3. Who votes on BID and what happens if you don’t vote?
In accordance with BID Regulations 2004, businesses that are subject to the mandatory levy when the new term commences in July 2023, are entitled to one vote per hereditament (legal definition “a unit of property”). The BID will be renewed if there is a majority vote by number AND by rateable value. This means, there must be more votes cast in favour than against (by number) AND of those, the total size (by RV) of hereditaments in favour must also be greater than those voting against. This means that a BID proposal needs the support of small and large businesses to proceed. Like any democratic election, if you do not vote your voice will not be heard so we would encourage you to do so. Once established the outcome will apply to all eligible hereditaments as per the BID proposal.
4. Is the ballot process independent and neutral?
Yes, the ballot will be run by UK Engage, on behalf of Warwick District Council who is the legal ‘accountable authority’. Whilst the Council does not influence BID activities in any way, they have a legal obligation to run the ballot in accordance with the BID Regulations 2004. BID Leamington staff have no contact with ballot papers and the votes remain confidential.
5. Does the BID replace Council Services?
No, all projects and services delivered by BID Leamington are in addition to those delivered by the Council and would not be delivered otherwise. This is ensured by a legally binding baseline agreement which is available to view on our BID Renewal webpage. In some cases the BID will enhance existing services e.g. the Christmas Lights. If the BID is not renewed, the Council will not pick up these services as they are under increasing pressure to make savings and generate more revenue.
6. Do towns with BIDs perform better than those without?
The evidence suggests that towns with BIDs are more prosperous and well managed than those without. There are now over 330 BIDs in the UK demonstrating private sector support for the concept. The majority of our neighbouring towns have established BIDs including Stratford, Rugby, Banbury and Coventry City Centre. There are now many BIDs operating in different parts of Birmingham.
We have seen the concept supported at the national level, with Government recommending that BIDs take on further responsibilities. Many established BIDs successfully secure additional funding, demonstrating the commitment other partners have to supporting towns that are prepared to invest in themselves.
This is an important decision. 15 years of focused investment and management has delivered measurable results and enabled the town to prosper in a tough economic climate. Looking forward there are big opportunities and challenges ahead so it is important that Leamington does not stand still and remains a competitive, vibrant and well-managed destination where the businesses are well represented in local developments.
7. How much do I pay?
Retail and leisure businesses in the specific BID area with a rateable value (RV) of £15,000 and above are subject to the BID Levy. This £15,000 threshold aligns with the Small Business Rate Relief threshold and also ensures good financial management whilst allowing smaller businesses to get involved through our voluntary scheme – see below. The annual levy is proportionate to the size of the premises occupied by the business and calculated at 1.9% of the RV. For example, a business with an RV of £15,000 will pay £285 for the year. Our biggest levy payer contributes just over £10,000 per year.
Billing will be based on the April 2023 rating list (published by the VOA) which resulted in a significant overall drop in ratable values across member businesses in the town centre. In total 331 businesses contribute around £292,000 per year. This is slightly less than the previous three BID terms (in the past 15 years) however, the BID Board recognised the value of additional income the BID now generates in setting a budget that delivers tangible benefits whilst balancing the BID liability on member businesses and inflationary pressures.
Each year, the BID team also typically generates an average of £90,000 of additional income from sponsorship, events and grants to support BID services. This equates to over £450,000 of additional investment over five years. On average this additional revenue equates to around 29%. The BID team consists of 2 full-time and 1 part-time staff who serve member businesses.
8. How is the BID Levy collected?
The BID Levy is collected by Warwick District Council in July each year. This is a legal requirement to ensure the collection is evenly applied across all businesses in the BID area and ensures neutrality (as business owners and managers who are part of the BID, also govern the BID). Normal financial collection processes apply and are set out in a legal ‘operating agreement’ between the BID and the Council which is available to view on request. Once collected the full amount is passed over to the BID to deliver agreed activities and services. Businesses can discuss payment options with the Council, and BID staff will work very closely with businesses to ensure they are able to meet their obligations and get maximum return on investment.
9. How does the voluntary membership scheme work?
Smaller businesses that have a rateable value below £15,000 can choose to contribute and benefit from BID services as a voluntary member on a year by year basis. They pay the same proportionate sum as those who pay the mandatory levy with a minimum payment of £150 per year. As this is not mandatory they are not entitled to vote, however they are entitled to representation on the Board of Directors so can influence decisions. The threshold is based on a number of factors that are ultimately about ensuring maximum value for money from BID services for all involved. It is set out in the Business Plan and cannot be altered during the term of the BID.
10. What do I get for my money?
The BID Business Plan sets out exactly what services you will receive. It is informed by extensive consultation with local businesses and market research. Businesses benefit from the collective investment in marketing, enhancements, support and management and all are listed on the website and in promotional literature. However in general, the more you get involved with BID activities the more you can benefit. We find businesses benefit in different ways and, for many, this can cover the cost of their levy contribution. This may be through participating in events, offers, representation on our website and in directories, training or cost savings and more. At a strategic level, we are also ensuring the town is well managed and attracting increasing numbers of visitors. Your individual contribution also generates a lot of additional investment in the town.
11. How do you know what is good for my business?
The BID delivery team is qualified and brings extensive retail experience. In the last 13 years they have won multiple awards and accolades and their commitment to best practice, collaboration, innovation and transparency is recognised far beyond the town centre. The team undertake regular consultations with businesses and are also available by phone or email to respond to your concerns and ideas. They answer to the elected Board of Directors which is made of up of a cross section of skilled and passionate business owners and managers in the BID area who represent different sectors such as major retail, property, marketing, finance, independent retail etc. Where necessary the Board will also bring in expert advisors.
12. Where can I find more information about the costs and other details?
Full details of the BID area, costs, breakdown of streets covered by BID and the levy arrangements are detailed in the BID Business Plan 2023-2028, which can be found with other information on this website. Alternatively please call 01926 470 634 and we will be happy to post you a copy or help with any further information. Each year, BID Leamington prepares an Annual Report which can be downloaded here.