Taunton BID statement
WHAT IS A BID?
A BID is a way for businesses in a defined area to decide, fund and agree collectively on projects and initiatives that they want to be delivered in their area to help their businesses and town thrive.
To decide what those projects should be, a thorough programme of consultation is carried out, including questionnaires, newsletters, surgeries, one to one meetings and open meetings.
Following that consultation a business plan is written which includes those suggested priorities. The BID Business Plan varies from BID to BID according to the needs and priorities of each area. When the Business Plan or proposal document has been agreed, all eligible businesses in the area have the opportunity to vote ‘For’ or ‘Against’ the BID in a formal ballot conducted by the Local Authority.
For The BID to proceed, there must be a majority vote in favour both by number and rateable value. I.e. a majority of those businesses that vote (the turnout) must vote YES, and the total rateable value of those businesses that vote in favour must be greater than the total rateable value of those that vote NO.
If the BID achieves these majorities, the BID becomes a statutory obligation on both the BID proposer (the BID company) and the BID voters. The BID Company is obliged to deliver the scheme for the lifetime of the BID (max 5 years), and there is a statutory charge on all the eligible premises within the BID areas to pay an annual levy to fund the BID, payable by the ratepayer regardless of how they voted.
BIDs work on a very simple principle where every business involved benefits and contributes proportionately. Smaller businesses pay less, and larger businesses pay more but each contributes the same percentage. Together a fund is created to deliver the BID Business Plan which has the power to make a real difference.
By ensuring everyone contributes, BIDs eliminate the freeloader effect, which tend to make other schemes fail. BIDs are fair and they have also proved to be highly effective. Each year the BID Company is legally obliged to publish an audit of its delivery against the targets of the BID plan. Voters have the right to see this and hold the company to account.
Monday 23rd March, 2020
Taunton BID statement in relation to COVID-19
In response to this unprecedented situation, we are like everyone else, waiting for Government guidance on what our options are. At the moment, the instruction is that we have to conclude the ballot, so businesses in the BID area can continue to vote until 5pm on 30th March.
The position we have made clear through our Social Media channels is that we, as a BID Team, have ceased canvassing at a local level as we think it is inappropriate and insensitive to do so (whether canvassing for a Yes or No vote), as businesses have far more important issues to address, namely their survival and the well-being of their staff. Those businesses affected include members of the BID volunteer team who are as impacted as anyone else.
We have written to the Secretary of State to ask if in the event of Taunton BID receiving a positive mandate (both by number and rateable value), the BID team will be permitted to revise the BID Plan in light of the new circumstances and delay its implementation until such time as the current crisis has passed and life for businesses and the High Street returns to some sort of normality. We know that whatever happens, when we get out the other side of this terrible situation, more than ever businesses will have to work together to recover, whether that is through the mechanism of a BID or some other collective response.
We know that it is going to be a very difficult road ahead for everyone but a collective response and effort has to be the way to secure that positive future for the town and its community. We understand that asking businesses to make any financial contribution in the near future is going to be problematic and we will have to wait until the crisis has passed and businesses are trading again, or that the Government will step in to fund the levy on their behalf.
Nationally various BID organisations are lobbying Government to ask them to pay the BID levies on behalf of businesses. Taunton BID team is joining that voice through our membership of the South West BIDs Group and membership and association with British BIDs and of the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM).
The ballot closes at 5pm next Monday 30th March, if you wish to vote we suggest that to avoid any potential disruption to the postage system, you should post your ballot papers off early this week to ensure that it is included in the count. The results of the ballot will be posted on the BID website (www.tauntonBID.co.uk) and Twitter (@BIDTaunton) as soon as we have them.
Stay well and stay safe.
The Taunton BID Team