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Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)

Introduction

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a precisely defined geographical area of a town, commercial district, tourism and visitor area or a specific theme, where businesses vote to invest collectively in local improvements resulting in an improved business environment and improved local economic growth. BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by the commercial sector by means of a compulsory BID levy.

A BID can only exist in law where it gets support from a clear majority of local business in a ballot. The interests of both large and small businesses are protected through a voting system that requires a majority in the numerical votes casts and the rateable value of votes cast. A minimum turnout of 25% of eligible persons is also required. The BID operates for up to 5 years.

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting community-led regeneration by supporting local businesses and communities to take responsibility for the economic, social and environmental action that will make a difference within their communities as well as creating conditions to support enterprise and innovation, particularly in town centres.  The BIDs model is designed to empower local people to take charge of their own regeneration needs and enable them to improve their communities.

BIDs in Scotland

BIDs came into force in Scotland in April 2007 as a result of primary legislation contained in Part 9 of the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 and other secondary legislation, including UK parliamentary regulations to implement reserved aspects of the policy.

There are presently 34 operational BIDs in Scotland, click here for further information.

In October 2014, Business Improvement Districts Scotland was awarded a two year contract to develop and support BIDS in Scotland.  Those interested in starting a BID should refer to the BIDs Scotland website or contact Ian Davison Porter (BIDs Project Director in Scotland) on 0780 106 4733 or at ian.davisonporter@bids-scotland.com.

The BID model in Scotland have been applied to many different areas, from town centres, to business parks, industrial estates, tourism initiatives and the development of specific economic activities.  Indeed, the Scottish Government believes that the potential uses of the BIDs model is still relatively untapped.  We are keen to develop innovative uses for the BIDs model and would welcome proposals.

Developing a BID in Scotland

If you have an idea or project that you think could benefit from the BID model or questions about BIDs policy, please contact us.  Also, if you are considering setting up a BID, please contact Business Improvement Districts Scotland for advice.

Applying for a Seedcorn Grant

The Scottish Government can provide a seedcorn grant of £20,000 to help BIDs develop a proposal to take to ballot.  Applications are assessed at two points in the year; application windows are open in from 1 June to 30 June 2016 and again from 1 November to 30 November 2016.  

Completed applications must be submitted to Business Improvement Districts Scotland prior to deadline.  Applications submitted out with the application windows may not be processed.

Contact

John Ferguson

BID Policy Officer.

E: john.ferguson@gov.scot

T: 0131 244 0489

Further Reading

Town Centre Action Plan

Town Centre Action Plan  - One Year On

The BIDS Scotland website

BIDS consultations

Working Group

Steering Group

BID Pilot Projects

Scotland CAN Do Action Framework

Scottish Government Economic Strategy

Scottish Government Regeneration Strategy

Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill

07 January 2015