Headlines: August 15th, 2003

A blueprint for setting up and running Business Improvement Districts has been published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Under the proposals councils and the local business community would be able to take forward schemes which will benefit the local community, subject to the agreement of ratepayers. Business ratepayers would agree to pay an additional levy on their rate bill to finance a BID. The ratepayers themselves would decide in advance on the way in which their money is spent and how much they are prepared to pay in addition to their rates bill. Each ratepayer who would be asked to contribute to the BID would be able to vote on whether or not that BID goes ahead. Comments on the draft guidance are required by 10 October 2003.A BID can be established in any place where additional services to those which the council provides are desired by the local business community. BIDs could be located in town centres, in one or two particular streets or a larger area. They could be located in Industrial estates, business parks or anywhere that business sees a need.

Businesses may be prepared to pay to secure preventive measures such as more frequent policing, installation of CCTV cameras and litter bins. Remedial measures may be required such as a rapid response to graffiti and litter, replacing street lamps, mending pavements and investment in the visual appearance of the area, such as tree planting. BIDs could provide local training and employment schemes or more frequent local transport.

A number of voluntary BID schemes have been operating for some time. In Coventry a not-for-profit city centre management and tourism company combines the twin functions of operational management in the city centre and promoting the city and its surrounding region as an attractive place in which to invest, work, live and visit. In London a network of five partnerships brings together eight local authorities, businesses and local communities from different areas in London. The network aims