Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Coventry City Council and CV One Ltd (LGB 14)


  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 support—in 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 applied—as relevant—across 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.


  2.1  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 majorities.

  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.


  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 proposal documents.

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Prepared 8 July 2002