Memorandum by Coventry City Council and
CV One Ltd (LGB 14)
1. THE CONTEXT
1.1 Coventry is ideally placed to comment,
through practical experience, on the draft bill. Coventry operates
what are probably the closest arrangements possible, within the
current English legislative framework, of a Business Improvement
District (BID) in the UK. CV One Ltd (which succeeded the City
Centre Company (Coventry) Ltd in April 2002 after a merger with
its sister tourism organisation) is a not-for-profit company limited
by guarantee. It has operational control of the management and
promotion of Coventry city centre and therefore has experience
in delivering services and business supportin the way that
BIDs should make possible in other town and city centres.
1.2 CV One has operated a voluntary membership
scheme for four years, primarily in the retail sector, but also
covering other business sectors, including retail property landlords.
In the retail sector, its membership covers over 50 per cent of
rateable value and almost 50 per cent of the outlets by number.
It has achieved this success by delivering additional services
that are valued by the targeted business sector. Through its tourism
arm, it also operates a similar and very successful voluntary
scheme that covers tourist attractions, hotels and conference
venues in both Coventry and Warwickshire. Both have the potential
to become BIDs.
1.3 Whilst this paper identifies the experience
we have gained and the opportunities offered by the Green Paper
in our City Centre, the City Council would also want to ensure
the BIDs proposals would be able to be appliedas relevantacross
the City, eg on Business and Retail Parks, in suburban shopping
areas, etc where the BID philosophy and practice could show tangible
benefit to those asked to fund it.
2. OVERALL COMMENTS
2.1 The section of the draft bill covering
BIDs, as currently drafted, is in line with what we would wish
to see from the final legislation, because it delivers sufficient
flexibility to maximise the chances of BIDs winning approval and
operating successfully. There will inevitably be a number of businesses
within a defined BID area and sector that will resist the additional
rate bill, because they are unable to appreciate the investment
value inherent in supporting a successful BID. Unless the flexibilities
inherent in the draft bill are preserved, our practical experiences
of voluntary schemes suggest that it will prove impossible for
most of the emerging BID organisations to win the requisite double
2.2 Coventry's model of city centre management
is not the only successful model, but it has worked particularly
well. The bill as drafted would enable the Coventry model to move
on, based on a wider franchise and more secure funding, but would
preserve the elements, which have been key to its success. It
is important that this facility is preserved, in particular:
The bill would not prevent other
authorities from handing over responsibility for the delivery
of core, as well as top up services to a BID organisation (services
such as cleansing, grounds maintenance, CCTV installation and
monitoring, and car park management have been transferred to CV
One from Coventry City Council).
It allows for that organisation to
be truly independent and to have a significant influence on city
centre policies and developments.
It would allow such organisations
to benefit from the enormous spin-off benefits that have flowed.
Spin-offs include the ability to improve total service delivery
in an integrated way and sell service delivery commercially to
third parties to generate more income.
3. SPECIFIC COMMENTS
It is important that the following elements
of the draft bill are preserved.
3.1 The businesses included in the BID must
be defined both by geographical area and by business sector. The
BID must deliver true value to all businesses covered and different
sectors are driven by different value imperatives. A BID could
not easily satisfy all sectors without losing focus. The sectors
defined by Council billing authorities may not be able to differentiate
sufficiently tightly, so the facility for listing business addresses
covered by a BID will need to be preserved. Any abuse of that
can be prevented by the Council's veto clause.
3.2 The payments to the BID need to be defined
by the BID proposal and this should not necessarily be a fixed
percentage of rateable value. Different sizes of businesses may
differ in the value they can gain from the BID and their ability
to pay. This should be reflected in the individual BID proposals.
3.3 The facility for non-ratepayers, such
as landlords, to make voluntary contributions should be preserved.
CV One gains a very significant proportion of its membership income
from landlords etc and would need to preserve this in a BID. It
may be appropriate for a BID to lock in such contributions by
agreement with landlords and to state these contributions in BID