FAQs

Click on the questions below to see the answer

What is a bid?


A Business improvement District is a way for businesses in a defined area to decide what they need to do to help their business to thrive. A BID Business Plan is written that includes those suggestions and you will have the chance to vote for the plan. IF there is a majority vote in favour the plan will go ahead.




Who is behind this scheme?


The Taunton Chamber of Commerce leads the BID process, supported by Destination Management & Marketing.




How will the bid be managed?


The BID process has been lead by Taunton Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has set up a Taunton BID Working Group to take the BID work forward. Following a successful BID vote, this group will no longer be active but will be replaced by the BID company Board of Directors. Control will be passed to a dedicated and completely separate company run by the businesses within the BID area. This company will be a not –for- profit, Company Limited by Guarantee. The managing Board of this company will be made up of representatives of the voting businesses, as with any Board, these Directors will be nominated and elected based by the BID businesses, based on their skills and the contribution they can make to the company and the development of Taunton.




How will the extra services be funded?


It will cost a very small % of your rateable value; the Taunton BID levy is set at 1.5%. Therefore if your business’ rateable value is £20,000 then you would pay an extra £300 per year. All this money will be ring-fenced to deliver the business plan, it will be used to encourage more funding to match it so the pot of money grows. Only businesses in Taunton with a rateable value in excess of £5,000 will be included in the scheme.




How long will it last?


5 years - 2020 to 2025.




How do we get a bid?


An extensive consultation will be held with businesses in the BID area. Ideas, suggestions and priorities for taking Taunton forward will be logged and the detailed BID Business Plan will be produced and published following this consultation. Every eligible business (RV of £5000 or more) in the BID area will be sent a copy of the BID Plan. Early in 2020 you will be sent a ballot paper giving you the opportunity to vote for (or against) in a formal ballot process. The resulting vote has to be positive both by number and rateable value for Taunton BID to proceed. If the ballot returns a positive result then Taunton BID Company will be formed. The official start of Taunton BID is expected to be Summer 2020




What happens after 5 years?


After 5 years the current scheme will end. The scheme can be extended or renewed for another 5 years. The same processes of consultation, and ballot have to be 
undertaken to secure a further 5-year term. The renewal BID may contain the similar elements or it may be a completely different Business Plan to reflect new priorities at the time.




Do bids exist elsewhere in the uk?


There are over 300 BIDs schemes in the UK. Evidence has shown that they work, with nearly every second term ballot resulting in higher numbers of businesses voting ‘YES’. They have led to increased footfall, reduced overheads, safer and more vibrant towns and cities with higher spending levels., and businesses influencing how their councils deliver services in the town.




How do you know it works?


Over 300 BID schemes have gone to ballot, the majority have voted in favour and the positive benefits are very obvious. Businesses in those areas have the chance to influence how their towns are managed and to make the changes necessary to survive. Of all the BIDS that have gone to ballot for a 2nd term +90% have been approved for a 2nd term by an increased majority. Many are now going forward to secure a 3rd term.




Isn’t this what i pay my business rates for?


No. Business Rates are a national tax that is collected by Local Councils on behalf of central government and then redistributed according to a national formula. The Council’s income from this redistribution is spent throughout the area on statutory and discretionary services for residents and businesses. Businesses have very little say in the way the funds are spent. The great benefit of a BID is that the projects it undertakes have been agreed by businesses, through a series of consultations. The money is retained locally, and spent locally, for the benefit of the local area. The BID levy is nothing to do with business rates. It is based on a levy on the rateable value of the business unit and the funds are invested within the BID area. The funds collected through the BID levy will be kept in a separate BID bank account held by the BID Company but separate from non-BID money. The income from the levy and from voluntary or commercial contributions will be used to fund local activities and services, as decided by the businesses and included in the Business Plan.




Who pays, and who collects the money?


The BID levy is charged to occupants of business premises with a rateable value of £5,000 or more and will be collected by Somerset West and Taunton Council and then placed into a ring-fenced account (a BID Revenue Account) and passed on to the Taunton BID Company.




What if don’t pay business rates - will I still have to pay the bid levy?


Yes you will. The levy is based on Rateable Value to make it a fair and proportionate charge, so bigger businesses contribute more than smaller ones. So if the ballot result is positive any business that was eligible to vote will have to pay. BUT under the new Retail rates Discount Scheme introduced by Government last year and retail business with a Rateable Value of £51,00 or less will be eligible for a 33.3% reduction in their rates payable. In Taunton more that 65% of businesses will benefit from this and other business rates relief. The BID levy will be set at 1.5% of Rateable Value so many businesses will still be making a large saving on their rates bills even after paying the levy, shown in the table below and the BID levy will be exclusively spent in the BID area.




What sort of things can be included?


That will be for you as businesses to decide. But in other places it includes better marketing, improved security, better signage and directions, better cleaning, taxi marshals, cost saving initiatives, promotions and events tailored to attract shoppers and visitors to the area.




Shouldn’t the council pay for all that?


The council will still be legally obliged to provide all the services that it does now and bring in any improvements they have scheduled. Anything done through the BID will be additional to what you get for Business Rates. Budgets for local councils have been cut dramatically and there will be no additional money to improve or support new ideas.




Are bids just a way for councils to save money?


Absolutely not, a BID scheme must support additional projects and services, provide new activities and cannot replace statutory activities or services carried out by the Local Councils, County Council, Police and other public agencies. The BID Company must have Baseline Agreements with the Councils to ensure that businesses are not short-changed in the future and to avoid any duplication of services. The Council has pledged its support for the BID and will contribute financially to it because they have commercial properties in the BID area that will be liable for the BID levy. Businesses will continue to benefit from the services that the Councils and Police provide for the benefit of businesses and public such as cleaning, lighting, access and safety.




What will it cost?


It will cost a very small % of your rateable value in the case of Taunton BID this will be 1.5%. This is equivalent in many cases of just pennies per week, a book of stamps or a small ad in the local press. All this money is ring -fenced to deliver the business plan it is also used to encourage more funding to match it so the pot of money grows. Only business in Taunton with a rateable value of £5,000 and more will be included in the scheme.




Why are businesses with a rateable value of under £5000 exempt?


Many businesses premises with a rateable value under £5000 are lock- ups 3rd floor offices or advertising hoardings, these will not have a significant influence of shaping the BID. The cost of collecting the levy from these smaller businesses outweighs the income generated from them. It also means that the number of businesses is reduced, meaning that we can communicate with eligible businesses more effectively. Businesses under the threshold do not get a vote. Exempt businesses and businesses outside the area can however opt in to make voluntary contributions of no less than 1.5% of their rateable value.




What is the bid area?


Please click here to see a large version of the map




Which streets are within the BID area?


The Taunton BID area contains around 415 business addresses on the following streets: BATH PLACE BILLET STREET BRIDGE STREET CANON STREET CASTLE GREEN CHEAPSIDE COAL ORCHARD CORPORATION STREET COUNTY WALK EAST STREET FORE STREET FOUNDRY ROAD HAMMET STREET HIGH STREET MAGDALENE LANE MILL LANE NORTH STREET OLD MARKET CENTRE ORCHARD PAUL STREET ST JAMES STREET WOOD STREET




Who gets to vote?


Every business in the area with a rateable value of £5,000 and above has one vote regardless of the size of the premises If you own or occupy more than one premises in the BID area, you will have a vote for each premises; you can cast a vote for each.




If I don’t vote, do I still have to pay?


Like any democratic process the majority of the businesses that vote determine the outcome of the scheme. Regardless of how you voted, YES, NO or abstained you will still be liable to pay the levy




Will the bid deliver what it says?


The BID Business plan is a legal document. Every year the BID Company is legally obliged to publish an audit of its delivery against the targets in the BID plan, all voters will have a right to see that audit and to hold the company to account.




Is this the right time to be developing a bid?


Actually this is a great time to develop a BID. In Taunton there is a great opportunity to work together and combine talents, assets and ideas with the BID scheme. Taunton is at the forefront of great change in the area. There is a new Council, with a new executive and elected team in place, now is the time for Taunton businesses to make their voices heard. In addition town centres and the public purse are under pressure to change like never before. The increased use of online retail and mobile comparison apps means that businesses need to work together to counter the threats and maximise the benefits of driving down overheads such as insurance and utility costs. A BID also makes your money go that much further with larger marketing budgets which can reach out and promote your business and the town to more people both locally and further afield. BIDs offer great opportunities for economies of scale and BIDs provide much greater value for money than you have at present. A BID also offers businesses a unique opportunity to take control of the trading environment and to make their voices heard.




Will my money be spent locally?


The money does not go to the Government or the Council. The Council collects the levy funds on behalf of the BID Company. It hands those funds over the BID Company to be spent in the BID area. Funds will be held by the BID Company with a Board of Directors drawn from business representatives in the BID area. These funds are only to be used for the projects agreed and voted for by the participating businesses, in line with the BID Business Plan. Each year you will be able to see a fully audited report and set of accounts that will set out clearly how the BID fund has been spent in the previous year.





A SNAPSHOT OF BIDS IN THE UK

A BID can be set up anywhere there is a collection of business premises and owners that want to make a difference. These include: Industrial Centres, Trading Estates, Businesses Parks, City Centres, and town centres of all types.

  • Introduced in England in 2004

  • More than 300 in the UK – Minehead was number 301!

  • In the UK BIDs include– towns, cities, coastal resorts, industrial parks, Tourism BIDs

  • *Total, UK BID levy income - £110.5m

  • *120,700 businesses are in UK BID schemes.

  • *Value added - £12.5m (11.4% of total BID levy inclusive)

  • *97% of ballots last year (2018) achieved a mandate.

  • They have influence  - 38% of BIDs are working with their local LEPs and many directly influence local town centre strategies, and Future High Street Fund.

  • All Party Parliamentary Group for BIDs has been set up to influence Gov’t policy ,

  • There are 30 BIDs in the SW region. 

 

The great majority of BIDs are voted in for a first term.  Of all the BIDs that have gone to ballot for a second term over 90% have been approved for a further term by an increased majority, and a handful have now entered a third term.

WHY DOES TAUNTON NEED A BID?

Taunton is the County Town of Somerset, served by 2 junctions off the M5. It sits at the heart of the Vale of Taunton and bounded to the North by the Quantock Hills and to the South by the  Blackdown Hills, both are AONBs. Taunton is a significant urban and commercial centre for the SW. It has been designated a Garden Town to denote that the Government recognises that is growth hub for the region.  

The town centre is architecturally attractive, relatively compact and easily navigable. It has a wide range of stores with most of the key nationals represented. In addition, it has a vibrant independent retail and hospitality offer. Taunton sits on the banks of the River Tone, it hosts the Somerset County Cricket Club, Somerset  County Museum, the Brewhouse Theatre and the renowned Castle Hotel.

READ MORE INFORMATION ON THE TAUNTON BID

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