That was the message after it was revealed city centre businesses had voted in favour of a second five-year term for the Bradford Business Improvement District (BID).
Almost 600 businesses were asked to vote in a secret ballot on whether they wanted the BID – which originally launched in December 2018 – to continue, along with its plans to raise £2.5 million to spend on projects to boost the city centre over the next five years.
In all, almost 82 per cent of those who took part in the ballot voted in favour. The vote represented 75 per cent of the individual business votes and 88 per cent of the total rateable value of the properties owned and managed by those who voted.
The BID is a limited not-for-profit company funded by a small levy on businesses and organisations within a specified area of the city centre. It is run by a team of four (full and part-time) staff and an operating board made up of voluntary representatives of all sectors who receive no remuneration.
Under UK national regulations, BIDs have to re-ballot every five years and more than 50 per cent of those who take part, representing more than 50 per cent of the total rateable value of the BID area, must vote ‘yes’ for it to go ahead. Every business which pays the BID levy has the opportunity to vote.
The levy take – which applies to every business with a rateable value of £10,000 or over – is used for projects to help promote and develop the city centre and the total proceeds of about £2.5 million will be spent on projects and services that are completely over and above those provided by Bradford Council.
BID chairman Ian Ward, general manager of The Broadway shopping centre, said: “This is a fantastic vote of confidence from our city centre businesses of all shapes and sizes and a reflection of the amazing support they have given the BID over its first five years.
“I’d like to thank our members for backing our vision for the next five years and their confidence in our ability to continue to make real progress on positive changes for the future of our brilliant city.
“Bradford still faces many challenges but the only way we can overcome them is by working together with a shared goal, grasping our opportunities with enthusiasm and passion and pressing on with determination and pride.
“I’d also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Jonny Noble and our small-but-perfectly-formed BID team who have worked tirelessly and unceasingly through some extremely difficult times – not least the pandemic – to deliver the important projects and valuable services and support that our members needed.
“Their commitment and dedication have been magnificent and I’m certain we can rely on it continuing for the next five years and beyond.”
James Paynter, Deputy BID chair, and retail area manager of Yorkshire Building Society, said: “It’s fabulous news that businesses have voted in favour of a second term.
“The BID has been tremendously important for the city centre and its team has worked incredibly hard to deliver a huge range of projects over its first five years from business training to crowd-pulling flagship events, from smartening up our streets to launching brilliant initiatives like Bradford at Night, which is having a real impact on our evening and night-time economy.
“It plays a vital role in protecting and supporting our high street and that role can only get bigger and more important as we head towards City of Culture 2025 and the major opportunities that will help to deliver.”
The ‘yes’ vote means that the BID can now start to deliver on its new five-year Business Plan which responds to the needs that businesses have identified, with three core strategies: creating a Positive Environment, making the city centre Better For Business and generating a Vibrant Experience.
BID manager Jonny Noble said: “I’m incredibly proud of my team and what we’ve been able to achieve in our first five years and we are all looking forward with huge enthusiasm to another five years’ working together with businesses and other partners across the city centre to continue the work we’ve started and take it to the next level.
“We listen very closely to what our levy-payers tell us is needed and the fact they have voted to invest a further £2.5 million in supporting the city centre is testament to their commitment to making it a thriving place in which to live, work, invest and do business and an exciting and welcoming destination for visitors.
“Our task now is to deliver on the new five-year business plan and the priorities our levy-payers have identified and we’re determined to meet the challenge.
“Bradford is on its way back and we now have a mandate to play our part to our fullest potential. We can’t wait to get stuck in.”