Would a "Business Improvement District" (BID) be good for Brixton?

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by Gramsci, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    I had heard might be happening a while back but saw article in SLP on Friday. BIDs started in the US and the idea was brought here by the last Government. They are controversial both here and in US. There has been no consultation with Brixton residents about this. From what I have read residents do not get much say in it. Though it could affect people who live and work in a BID area who do not run a business in the area.

    The one proposed in Fitsrovia has caused debate in the local press. Worth a look as Fitsrovia also has large residential population. In a BID area there is no obligation to consult residents.


    "Under BID regulations it is not necessary to consult smaller businesses or residents. When BIDs are created in areas dominated by businesses of a similar size and where there are no residents living the decision to approve a BID or not becomes a simple case of a democratic vote. But in mixed-use areas like Fitzrovia where there are thousands of residents and smaller businesses these are excluded from the consultation process and about environmental changes that affect them. Critics of BIDs point out this democratic deficit."

    And also this article:


    " So what is a business improvement district? As wereportedon 6 June, Camden Council informed businesses with a rateable value of over £100,000, saying:

    A Business Improvement District (BID) is an arrangement through which the business community can elect to generate additional funding to re-invest in the local area to improve the public realm, promote business and make the area more profitable for business. Under these arrangements, business ratepayers agree to contribute a small additional levy on their business rate bill to finance a BID. In order to go ahead with the renewal of the BID, agreement is needed from business ratepayers through a formal voting process, which is required to be conducted by the Returning Officer for Elections for the London Borough of Camden.

    If successful, a new commercial district would be created in the heart of Fitzrovia and be managed by The Fitzrovia Partnership who would market the area and employ private security. They would foster more evening and weekend commercial activity and tip the balance from Fitzrovia’s mix of residents and small businesses towards a central area that is more frenetic and increasingly dominated by chain stores. It will be branded and packaged, rents will go up and it will lose its much-loved character and identity."

    The article in SLP says that the BID group for Brixton comprises 10 businesses and would be a "unifying voice " business in Brixton. Also that it would work with smaller businesses who need help.

    So there are different views on BIDs. Also they are recent idea so no one can be sure how one in Brixton would work exactly.

    This article in Guardian looks at both sides of argument.

    What concerns me is that residents are not consulted though it looks like if Brixton did become a BID area whoever runs the BID would have some powers that would have come under local authority ( democratically elected) powers.

    Anyone know about more about how BIDs work?
    What do people think?
  2. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

  3. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Id be interested in why u think that.
  4. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    lack of subsequent consultation and apparent agenda to fuck over the area / make it more 'business-friendly'. this wouldn't be a problem if businesses in brixton were all like bookmongers or some of the other lovely local small businesses. but from the op they'll get no more say than the residents. it seems to be licence for big business to ride roughshod over local interests, regardless of the hue of those interests, in the pursuit of profit.
  5. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Also found this article by writer on housing and regeneration Anna Minton. Here on this site as pdf.


    from page 19 of article:

    But the big difference with the US is the question of‘additionality’ – in other words whether or not BIDs will provide additional services to local government or whether they will replace them. As in the US this has significant implications for local democracy as it determines whether locally-elected officials or unelected business leaders decide how best to manage and maintain the local environment. At the same time many local businesses are loath to pay a tax for improvements which they feel the local authority should provide. As in the US the larger BIDs have considerable urban planning powers and match funding abilities. For example, the New West End Company in Central London has drawn up a strategic development framework and will receive £18 million over three years from the Mayor’s office to fund improvements. So far the jury is out as regards the weakening of local democracy. ‘Will the public sector see it as a loosening of democracy? Some local authorities will, some won’t. Inevitably there will be some decisions made by this new body which would historically have been made by others,’ a retailer predicted. Another important difference with the UK response to BIDs is that, while broadly supportive of the policy, the police are not happy with the emphasis on private security, preferring that their own Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) be used to police BID areas. BIDs on the other hand prefer to employ private security, because it is cheaper and easier to control and manage. The other concern in the UK is that the BID model adopted is too focussed on the trading environment and ‘footfall’ as a result of the ODPM’s close collaboration with the Association of Town Centre Managers in working up the policy. For some critics, this model is too driven by a single-minded desire to increase footfall and consumption, rather than the broader list of priorities that should drive the creation ofsuccessful, sustainable places. ‘BIDs come from town centre management and town centre management comes from the drive to increase footfall. It’s Bluewater and the out-of-town mall model influencing how we look at all other retail and commercial space,’ said one leading private sector developer."

    BTW the New West End Company does have private uniformed security I see in what I assume are public pavements.
  6. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    the new west end company are scum
    Pat_b and el-ahrairah like this.
  7. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Here is Lambeth Council webpage on BIDs
  8. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    Would privatising an area of Brixton be good for Brixton?
  9. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    The answer by the way is "no, it's a completely disgraceful idea and anyone supporting it should be ashamed of themselves".
  10. quimcunx

    quimcunx protestant traybake

    My gut instinct is fuck off.
  11. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

  12. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    What Id like to know is:
    • Who are the ten business behind the BID application?
    • How will the interests of the small traders and shopkeepers be represented?
    • Will residents have a say? ( does not look like it)
    • What powers will a Brixton BID have in relation to policing and planning?
    • In what way is the Council involved in this possible BID?
    Greebo likes this.
  13. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    What aspect of the BIDs proposed by Lambeth do you consider to equate to "privatising an area of Brixton"? There's no suggestion (as far as I can see) of land privatisation. I would be concerned however if the privatised security resulted in a cleansing of 'undesirables' from a public area.
    classicdish likes this.
  14. Winot

    Winot I wholeheartedley agree with your viewpoint

    That's answered in the Lambeth FAQ:

  15. fortyplus

    fortyplus smug git

    Let me guess. Tesco. Tesco stores plc. Tesco Metro. Tesco Finance. Tesco Home Delivery. Tesco Direct. Tescopoly Unlimited.
    And three other businesses owned and controlled by Tesco.
    Greebo and quimcunx like this.
  16. Brixton Lioness

    Brixton Lioness New Member

    Apologies if this is adding unneccessary detail but thought that a brief summary of a BID might be useful:

    A BID proposal is generally worked up in conjunction with local government and key community stakeholders (such as town centre managers, local business leaders, MDs of local industry). This working party will define the area to which the BID will relate. I imagine in Brixton that this will cover the high street, Coldharbour Lane, Atlantic Road, the market etc. The working party should then consult local rate payers on what improvements they would like to see undertaken within the district and then write the BID business plan, which will be voted upon.

    Those who can vote are payers of business rates. Therefore residents (who pay council tax) would be neither consulted nor asked to vote. Businesses who lie outside the district will be neither consulted nor asked to vote.

    Previous BID business plans have covered initiatives such as marketing and events, cleanliness, security, bulk purchasing power (such as refuse or insurance) etc. BIDS established nearby include Southbank and Kingston. The council is obliged to provide base services (so they can't just withdraw street cleaning for example) but this has to be set out in the business plan.

    If a BID is voted in (I believe that this has to be both 50% of rate payers AND 50% of rateable value). Generally turnout for these votes is very low but it is incredibly important for local businesses to engage. All rate payers in the district will be obliged pay an additional % on the rates payable. This can range from 1 - 3%. This is how the BID is funded.

    An Interim Board would be established after a successful vote and I think that they have 6-12 months to organise an election for permanent Board members. The BID would last for 5 years and then a further vote would be held for its renewal (or not).

    BIDS, if run properly and are fully accountable, can be great for an area. Engagement by local businesses is key to this.
  17. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    But they would be accountable to other businesses and not to eg gramsci or mrs magpie
  18. fortyplus

    fortyplus smug git

    This is very useful information, thanks. It is good to know that most small businesses are included, but there is still a concern about market traders - who would not normally pay business rates on their pitches, as far as I know. Clearly excluding them from the governance of an organisation having such a potential impact on their area would not be a good thing. I would hope that some provision could be made to include market traders in the governance of any Brixton BID.

    The danger with any such initiative is that it ends up being hijacked by the larger organisations. This is simply because the big companies can afford to second someone to engage, while small businesses and sole traders don't have the resources to do so. You say it is incredibly important for local businesses to engage, and I agree, but it's also incredibly important for the people who promote these things to understand how incredibly difficult it is for small businesses to do so. Say a meeting is booked for 4pm - do we shut up shop so we can come?
    Gramsci and Greebo like this.
  19. Brixton Lioness

    Brixton Lioness New Member

    It's the interim board’s responsibility to engage and if they want a yes vote, they have no choice. If they fail, vote no.
  20. Brixton Lioness

    Brixton Lioness New Member

    P.S. The drawback of BIDS is that they affect those who don't have the vote. Only plus side of this is that they don't have to contribute financially.
  21. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Unlike the US model in the UK it is business not property owners who have to cough up the levy. Do you know if this means that owners of property who do not pay business rates cannot be on the BID board? There are large owners of property in Brixton- the covered markets being one and some of the High street is owned by property companies. I assume the owners of the covered market do not pay business rates but the tenants do pay.

    Some BIDs do seem to have planning / urban design function as well as the initiatives you describe. Such as the New West End company ( see #5 Anna Minton quote). I could see that a Brixton BID might want to have similar influence on area. Is this a possibility? The Council is supposed to facilitate BIDs ( see Winots post #14). I can see a possible conflict with Brixton Masterplan and Cooperative Council. As these are supposed to produce community engagement from all sectors of community not just business.

    As the Fitsrovia lot say what is point of BIDs when the local community has already engaged with Council on plans for area which among other things cover the business sector?

    BIDs are not fully accountable in areas where there is a large residential population living alongside retail and entertainment business. I would not get any sort of say as a resident. It would be up to largess of BID board.

    Also the issue of security employed by BID. The police are not happy with this nor am I. Its all very well for large shop or club to have its own security on premises but uniformed "wardens" around my public streets. No thanks. I have seen that in West End. At least the police in theory are accountable to general public.
    Mrs Magpie likes this.
  22. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Answer my own question here. Despite the fact that only business rate payers pay levy owners of property can draw up BID proposals

    The following persons may draw up BID proposals —
    any person who, at the date they send BID proposals to the relevant billing authority under regulation 4(2)(a) —
    is a non-domestic ratepayer in relation to a hereditament situated in the proposed BID;
    has an interest in land (situated in the area to be comprised in such proposals) as freeholder, mortgagee or lessee, or directly or indirectly receives rent for the land (whether or not they are a non-domestic ratepayer in relation to that land); or
    is a body (whether corporate or not corporate) one of whose purposes is or includes developing BID proposals; and
    the relevant billing authority.
  23. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Large property owners in Brixton it appears can be involved in drawing up a BID.

    If street market traders do not pay business rates then under the legislation they do not get a vote. I wonder if they realise this as the Chair of BMTA supports the idea of a BID.
  24. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    yeh. but given who's in charge of the purse strings i wouldn't expect these proposals to get anywhere.
  25. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model every man and every woman is a star

    by 'large property owners' do you mean yuppies or large landlords?
  26. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Large landlords that own parts of High street and covered markets.

    But the SLP article did not name the 10 organisation behind the proposed Brixton BID. So Im in the dark here as are all residents of Brixton as there is not statutory need to tell us. All that needs to happen is that the Council and the proposed BID ballot business rate payers.

    This is what happened in Fitsrovia.
  27. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    Not so sure. A BID board would probably be a not for profit company. It can also apply for funding from GLA and Council for projects. So its like a public private partnership relationship between local government and local Business through the BID. The part privatisation issue comes in here that a couple of posters have brought up. When a BID is set up the Council and BID agree what "baseline" services the Council will provide and what the BID will provide. This could get into part privatisation of services.

    Also the London BIDs will get access to GLA and TFL:

    The Greater London Authority (GLA) supports BIDs by hosting bi-annual round-table meetings between London BIDs and senior GLA group officials; the annual Mayor of London’s BIDs Awards; and political support to help allow BID schemes that conform to the Mayor’s to go ahead. Transport for London (TfL) holds briefing sessions on specific initiatives of interest to BIDs, such as cycling. They also produce a monthly bulletin to update BIDs on relevant projects and news on transport infrastructure developments

    My question is were do residents come in all this? Transport infrastructure is also relevant to non business owners. This is where part privatisation of space comes in. Its not so much that the business is given space its that a BID area means that the BID board gets given a lot of weight when decisions are taken.
  28. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    This is also an important issue. The articles of association of a proposed BID could mean that non business rate payers could be on board. Also that smaller business rate payers could be excluded from Board. As in Fitzrovia:

    "The Articles of Association state that the BID board consists of 3-8 representative members with qualifying contributions of £10, 000 or over per annum. The BID proposal claims that there will be 12 members on the BID board but does not make clear that businesses contributing under £10, 000 are not eligible to be board members except by invitation. Why the deception? Derwent is making a voluntary contribution to ensure its control"

    So the devil is in the detail (as usual). The proposed Brixton BID may not be set up like this. Or it might. Either way its potentially important organisation in Brixton.
  29. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter Home is south London mate

    I don't think Brixton needs a Business Improvement District. New businesses are falling over themselves to come here, there's loads of proposals for new buildings/flats etc, the area is constantly promoted in the press/media etc. Yes, there is poverty and unemployment, but we're hardly a declining area in the north east with a falling population and all the young people moving out etc.

    I suspect this might be 'cooperative council' style move to get businesses to stump up for local improvements so that the council doesn't have to pay for them itself.
    dubh, Greebo, colacubes and 1 other person like this.
  30. FitzroviaNews

    FitzroviaNews Fitzrovia News

    There was a comment by the actor and writer Griff Rhys Jones in the Evening Standard last week about business improvement districts (BIDs). I've tried to find a source for the Brixton BID in the South London Press but not been able to find it. Anyone got details? Where did you see it Gramsci? This blog was also curious about the Brixton BID.

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