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Solihull Business Improvement District

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					Appendix A

Solihull Business Improvement District 2007/2009

Solihull Business Improvement District Background
From traditional farmers’ markets to the busy shopping malls of Mell Square Shopping Centre and Touchwood, Solihull offers a complete range of shopping experiences. Solihull faces a number of significant challenges to maintain its position as a top ranking shopping centre. A number of competing shopping centres have successfully secured funding through a BID, such as Rugby, Birmingham and Coventry. Solihull recognises, as neighbouring authorities have, that the challenges they face can only be addressed through considerable financial investment; a Business Improvement District (BID) is seen as the most appropriate source of funding. As identified many neighbouring authorities either have successfully secured a BID, or are currently going through the process, and therefore they will have more money to invest in their town or city and may gain a competitive advantage and attract Solihull’s customer base. Recently Solihull has not been able to stage events in the town centre, due to lack of revenue. Other than a short summer programme and the Christmas events we do not have any additional activities to attract people into the town. Mell Square is a natural place for events and at the moment we are not capitalising on this due to lack of financial resources. Many towns and cities have a town centre ranger function, which play an important role in not only being a visible security presence, but are also ambassadors for the town. They provide an invaluable service in directing and helping visitors and also being the eyes and ears of the town reporting any problems whether it is anti-social behaviour, litter or cleansing etc. More and more towns and cities will have town centre rangers, and there will be an expectation from visitors that Solihull has such a facility and again this could potentially have a detrimental effect on footfall figures. Solihull is currently cleaned by the Council to the levels and frequency that are defined in the baseline services. A successful bid would enable standards to be raised and to increase the frequency of cleansing.

Business Improvement District
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a partnership of businesses, retailers, local organisations and authorities working together to improve the trading environment as a place to work, live and visit. A BID is a defined geographical area of the town where business ratepayers have voted to invest collectively in local improvements that are in addition to those already delivered by the local authority. Through consultation a range of projects and services are discussed and agreed, and these are then put to a democratic vote, via a BID proposal, involving all of the businesses in the area. If the vote is successful then the projects are implemented through a levy that is charged, which is typically 1%, in addition to standard business rates. If approved the levy continues for the period specified up to 5 years, after which point the process can be repeated to secure continuation of the funding. The BID’s projects and services will be additional to any services, statutory or otherwise, already delivered by Solihull Council. Therefore an agreement will need to be established to benchmark relevant services, such as street cleaning, landscaping and floral decorations, events, car parking and traffic management and lighting maintenance.

Aims and Objectives
The vision for the Solihull Business Improvement District is: Objective 1 – To develop marketing and events – To raise the profile of Solihull, as a centre for retail, tourism and business. Provision of a focused events programme to increase customer footfall. Objective 2 – To Improve Safety – Upgrading of the Solihull CCTV system, by installing new cameras in identified crime hot spots and provision of Town Centre Rangers. Objective 3 – Christmas Lights – Improvements to the Christmas lights. Objective 4 – To improve street maintenance – To raise standards of appearance and maintenance to ensure the town centre is bright, clean and welcoming. Objective 5 – Accessibility – Ensure that the town centre is accessible to all sections of the community through the continued promotion of the Shopmobility Scheme, which provides access to town centre shopping facilities for people with limited mobility.

Measuring the Benefits
Objective 1 - Through marketing and events, the target is to increase the footfall by 1% per annum for the duration of the bid. Objective 2 – The improvement of safety will be measured by the number of incidents recorded by CCTV, Town Centre rangers and police statistics on crime and anti-social behaviour. Objective 3 – The success of the Christmas lights will be measured by the footfall. Objective 4 – The improvements to the environment will be measured through ENCAM Local Environmental Quality Standards Objective 5 – Through the membership of the Shopmobility Scheme

Key Programme Milestones
Nov 07 Cabinet Report to Member for Transport, Highways and Infrastructure to seek approval for the Council’s provision of £50,000, to contribute toward the precursory work required to enable Solihull to ballot businesses on the establishment of a Solihull BID. If successful in obtaining £50,000 from the Council, secure financial contributions of £30,000 from other partners ie Lend Lease and Norwich Union. Carry out a recruitment process for a temporary person (12 – 18 months) to commence the consultation process. A BID Steering Group has been established but the membership would need to be increased to include the financial contributors to the BID process, landowners in the BID area and representatives from both national and individual retailers. Feb 08 Feb - May 08 June 08 - July 08 Appoint temporary BID Officer for approximately 12-18 months. Conduct face to face interviews with approximately 250 retailers and businesses Analyse data from face to face interviews and breakdown information into different sectors to ensure that their needs are recognised in the consultation prospectus. Produce and distribute a consultation prospectus and a detailed questionnaire, to help prioritise the issues

Dec 07

Jan 08

that businesses would like to see addressed through the BID process.

July 08

Based on the analysis of the detailed research work, produce a BID proposal. BID Steering Group to agree the constitution of the company that will manage the BID should it be successful, and also determine their accountabilities.

Aug 08 – Feb 09

During this period the BID proposal would need to be communicated, marketed and publicised to all the businesses in the BID area. As well as personal visits, business briefings would be held during this period. Newsletters and leaflets would be distributed during this lobbying period in order to secure a positive vote.

March 09

Ballot Papers would be distributed to all business representatives in the BID area.

Area Covered By the BID
The BID plan would cover: High Street Poplar Road Mell Square Mill Lane Drury Lane New Road Princes Way Homer Road Herbert Road George Road Touchwood Station Road Also to include the area bounded by Lode Lane and Warwick Road, incorporating the hospital and the Renaissance Hotel.

Costs
Interviews by Research by Design – marketing company Employment of BID Manager on a temporary contract for approximately 12 months, funding to include recruitment and advertising costs Office space, IT equipment and phone provided by Solihull Council and Norwich Union Promotional Activities – There will be a need to meet with all local businesses during group sessions, some of which will be lunchtimes Postage – As well as regular electronic contact with the businesses, mail shots and newsletters will be distributed Marketing and Publicity Material Vote £10,000

£40,000

Nil

£5,000

£1,000 £22,000 £2,000

Total

£80,000

Potential Revenue from a BID
Research has shown that a 1% levy on the rateable value of businesses within the defined area would equate to approximately £500,000 per annum and the Council’s Business Rates section have confirmed that whilst their systems could not directly process a BID levy, any BID contributions could be collected via the Sundry Debtor invoicing system.


				
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