Business Improvement Districts, more commonly referred to as a ‘BID’ began in Canada in the 1960s. Although the BID model has since grown throughout the world, at its heart it remains unchanged.
Each BID serves for a period of five years at the end of which time eligible businesses within a designated geographical footprint vote on whether they wish to pay a small levy on top of their business rates to allow a range of projects to be delivered by the area’s BID management company. In the case of Aberdeen City Centre BID this is Aberdeen Inspired. Each term runs for a five year period before a re-ballot process to see if levy payers wish for the BID to continue.
Though the specifics of BID priorities vary from area to area they all aim to offer benefit to businesses, in most cases through achieving an increase in customer footfall, spend and dwell time within the designated BID footprint.
The BID Area
The BID footprint for Aberdeen covers the heart of the city centre and contains many of the main retail, office and leisure areas. The BID footprint was defined as a result of detailed consultation with representatives of each of the key business sectors to gain an understanding of the extent and strength of support for inclusion within the area. It has remained unchanged since the creation of Aberdeen Inspired in 2011.
Aberdeen Inspired is now operating under its second five-year mandate following the successful ballot of businesses in 2016. It will next be due for a re-ballot amongst eligible businesses in March 2021, at which point businesses will be able to evaluate the impact of the BID within Aberdeen City Centre and vote once again on whether they would wish to see the BID and its agents, Aberdeen Inspired, exist for a further five-year mandate.
The re-ballot process is conducted in line with specific legislation passed by the Scottish Government in 2007, and in terms of many of the underlying principles, it closely mirrors the electoral process for local and national elections.
For a ballot to succeed there are certain criteria that must be met;
1) a minimum turnout of 25% by the number of eligible persons (the headcount) and by rateable value,
2) a majority of those that vote by number of ballots and by rateable value must vote in favour.