With just two days to go until a crucial ballot on the future of Aberdeen Inspired closes, two of its former chairs have urged businesses to vote yes, saying it is imperative for the survival of the city centre.
In line with Scotland’s other BIDs, Aberdeen Inspired must ballot the businesses within the business improvement district (BID) footprint every five years.
A successful ballot this Thursday (June 24) will ensure it can continue working on behalf of local shops, bars, restaurants, property owners, landlords, shopping centres and all other city centre businesses until at least 2026.
John Michie, of Charles Michie pharmacy on Union Street, started the BID in 2011 with the aim of attracting, sustaining and boosting investment in Aberdeen’s city centre for the benefit of its levy payers and all those who live, work, shop and visit there.
Mr Michie said: “Since the BID was formed it has built essential partnerships that are key and it acts as a facilitator and the glue for the city centre. It is absolutely imperative that Aberdeen Inspired continues and I would urge anyone who has not yet voted to take the opportunity to vote in favour of retaining the BID.”
Richard Noble, managing director of FG Burnett, said: “The prospect of not having Aberdeen Inspired around does not bear thinking about - if Aberdeen Inspired was not here we wouldn't have access to additional funding for improvements to the city centre and events which bring footfall.
“The BID has also been instrumental in shaping the city centre masterplan and is a credible voice for the city, with its finger on the pulse.”
Aberdeen City Council this week voted to support the BID, while passionate backing has also come from a wide range of sectors and businesses.
These have ranged from hotels, independent hospitality outlets such as Café 52 and Books and Beans and the Aberdeen Hospitality Together group to the University of Aberdeen, RGU, charities, VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen Performing Arts and the UK-wide Association of Town and City Management.
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and business heavyweights including Martin Gilbert, former CEO of Aberdeen Standard Investment, and Bob Keiller, former CEO of Wood Group and chair of Asco Group, have also added their voice to the Back the BID campaign, as have Aberdeen Football Club and Jim Milne of Balmoral Group, which both choose to pay a voluntary levy to the BID.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone who has added their voice to the Back the BID campaign and we hope their strong support demonstrates the importance of retaining a BID for our city centre. We would like to thank all the businesses who have taken the time to cast their vote and urge anyone who has not yet done so to return their ballot papers before Thursday.”
In addition to the levy payments, which go to support city centre improvements and initiatives, the BID brought in an additional £2million in other funding in 2020, almost double what is collected by levy.
An achievement that would not have been possible without Aberdeen Inspired, it means that for every £1 of levy collected, at least £2 is invested in the city centre.
The average levy equates to around £5 per week - at just 1% of rateable value, it is the lowest in the country.
In recognition of the challenging times faced by businesses as a result of the pandemic, the levy in Aberdeen would be reduced by half in the first term (2021-22), dropping to just 0.5% of rateable value for the first year.
The BID footprint covers Union Street and the surrounding streets, including Broad Street, Market Street, Bridge Street, Huntly Street and Holburn Junction.
Eligible businesses have until 5pm on Thursday (June 24) to have their say.
For more information, visit www.aberdeeninspired.com