Chamber Chat – Business Improvement Districts - John O’Neill
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are now an established part of the British retail High Street and play an important role as a liaison between business and government departments (on all levels) and helping to determine the future direction of an area.
Contrary to popular opinion, BIDs are usually private companies working for and on behalf of the zone’s businesses. Each separate BID has its own priorities but always high on the agenda are cleanliness, crime, improvements and events.
Lancaster BID has been in existence since 2013, and Morecambe BID much more recently – 2016. By non-scientific analysis, we have worked out that we are the two closest BIDs in the country outside of a major city. As such, we often work together on certain projects and, given the fundamental differences in our zones, and even economic make-up, we actually don’t compete with each other — another fundamental misconception. In the last couple of years we have worked together to help the district get a new CCTV system up and running, on crime reduction in the area, and exploring joint events. Lancaster is a city and Morecambe is a seaside town so some priorities do diverge.
This year Morecambe BID has worked closely with the city council to help solve a perennial seaside problem, that of seagulls, noise and rodents. BID funded a trial involving gull-proof bags. It was such a success that it has been rolled out across a few council wards in Morecambe.
Lancaster BID this year have pulled out all the stops to drive footfall into the city centre, with a programme of highly successful events. This year Lancaster BID have produced a number of events, including the award-winning inaugural Lancaster Festa Italia.
We mightn’t always be visible, but we’re there in the background working for the betterment of the district.
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