“I have seen, as I have gone round the country, that the areas that often do best are those areas that have a really good and strong BID.” said Minister for the High Street, Jake Berry MP, in concluding evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the High Street 2030 last week.
“It is something we are addressing as a Department, looking at how we can encourage areas to set up new BIDs.” continued the Minister and he concluded his positive comments by adding “I am very keen to see the number of BIDs increased, because they can make a real difference to high streets.”
The High Street 2030 Inquiry opened last May when written evidence was invited. The BID Foundation worked with the Institute of Place Management and ATCM to submit a response following an evidence gathering workshop in which more than a dozen BID Foundation members participated. This generated such a level of ideas that we had to make two submissions because of length restrictions (read Submission 1 and Submission 2). This evidence showed the critical role of BIDs in the future of the high street and was followed by evidence being given in person by Institute co-chair to the committee in their very first session.
The Committee heard about BIDs from numerous witnesses, including Bill Grimsey and the Minister noted on Tuesday that the Grimsey suggestion that BIDs could be more community focused is now being examined in Scotland and that the Ministry in England will look to this experience and keep it under review.
One of the recommendations we made in our written evidence was that a national register of BIDs should be established and a regular census of place partnerships should be undertaken. The Minister was asked by the Committee Chair, Clive Betts MP, if the Ministry maintained a record of place management initiatives in high streets around the country and in particular BIDs. The response was that government do not. The BID Foundation is, however, working with MHCLG and the Scottish and Welsh Governments to maintain a live list of BIDs. The Institute is very keen to extend this to all place partnerships and has recommended this as a role for the new High Street Task Force.
The Inquiry will now consider all its evidence and publish a report. The work of the Committee has been running alongside the research undertaken by the Minister for the High Street’s Expert Panel which published its report last month and which drew heavily on workshops arranged by the Institute and supported by members of The BID Foundation in Altrincham, Bristol and Shrewsbury as well as others in Holmfirth, Aldershot and Bolton Teenage Market. These were specifically mentioned by Sir John Timpson who also gave evidence to the Committee on Tuesday.
Andrew Cooper, Chair of The BID Foundation, commented that “I am delighted that BIDs receive such a strong endorsement from the Minister in such a public setting. When we started The BID Foundation, one of our primary aims was to make the voice of BIDs heard. Both directly and through the work of individual BIDs it is great to see that we are making progress.”
The BID Foundation Executive Director, Cat Mitton, added “We really appreciate the Minister’s words but also the action of his department in including the requirement for “proof of engagement” with BIDs by local authorities in their proposals to access a share of the £675 million Future High Street Fund. I am sure it helped that, through the Institute, our members were hosts and participants of the evidence gathering that led to the establishment of the Fund.”
Article and photo from The BID Foundation