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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, it is important it should be clear who is to pay the charge but in so far as it is suggested that Clause 2(4) has the effect of imposing it, I feel bound to question this. The noble Lord may wish to look again at the drafting and the way in which the Bill creates liability for the charge.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I shall take note of the points just raised by the noble Baroness. Perhaps the House would accept the amendment for the time being.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8 [Method of voting]:

Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 5, line 17, leave out ("incorporate") and insert ("unincorporate").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 14, which seeks to leave out "incorporate" and insert "unincorporate". This is a technical amendment to make clear that in the case of unincorporated bodies a voting paper may be completed by an officer of the body concerned.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, this appears to be a sensible correction.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 9 [Services etc provided by local authority]:

Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 15:

Leave out Clause 9 and insert the following new clause--

Services provided by relevant authority

(" .--(1) Subject to subsection (3) below, improvements made through the implementation of a business improvement district scheme shall be taken as being in addition to and not in substitution for the level of services delivered by or on behalf of a relevant authority in the discharge of their functions, and accordingly--
(a) in deciding whether to make, or to refuse to make, an election order under section 4(1);
(b) in coming to an opinion that such an order should be refused under section 4(2); or

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(c) in requiring modifications to a draft scheme under section 4(3),
a local authority shall assume the provision of the existing level of services in the area for which the business improvement district scheme is proposed.
(2) In considering the level of services to be provided or maintained in the discharge of their functions, a relevant authority shall not treat any area less favourably by reason of the improvements which are or will be made in that area through the implementation of a business improvement district scheme.
(3) Nothing in this section shall be taken as prejudicing the operation of section 70 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 (functions of local authorities); but where, pursuant to an order made under that section, services are delivered by a BID company, such services shall be treated as being in substitution for the services which would, but for the order, be delivered by the relevant authority.
(4) In this section "the existing level of services" is the level of services which is provided at the time of an application for an election order under section 2.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 15, which seeks to insert a new clause. I should like to speak to Amendment No. 16 which also seeks to insert a new clause. This amendment involves a good deal of redrafting. The intention is to deal with the difficult area of additionality. Here one is concerned with a situation in which if a BID is set up, the improvements should not just replace what the local authority would otherwise have done but should be additional to them.

This issue generated a good deal of interest in Committee. The new clause seeks to deal with a situation in which improvements proposed by a BID scheme are, for example, intended as a top-up of services which the local authority provides. There are a number of existing examples where precisely this kind of activity takes place. In a BID area people want a higher standard of street cleaning, pavement cleaning and lighting and better visual amenities. They may want greater security. The local authority may already provide some of that. What the BID seeks to do is to provide an improved and enhanced level of service for which the ratepayers are prepared to pay.

It is clearly inappropriate that a local authority should use a BID proposal simply as a way of offloading its own responsibility for providing the services by reducing them or progressively withdrawing them on the basis that the business improvement district company is going to provide them instead. The new clause therefore provides that in considering the application for a BID they should assume the level of services that they are providing at the time the application is made. That, as it were, is the baseline. It is in comparison with the baseline that the improvements have to be weighed. That of course does not deal with what might happen once the BID is actually set up.

As I think I said at an earlier stage, it might well be ridiculous to have, for instance, two separate processes for collecting the refuse or for sweeping the streets. A local authority might decide to withdraw services after the BID is established on the basis that the BID will take the strain, but if it were to reduce services not as a result of its establishment but as part of a general reduction, perhaps in a period of financial stringency, it would clearly be inappropriate for the BID district to be

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protected by requiring the local authority to maintain the level of services when it was actually reducing them everywhere else.

To deal with this type of situation, subsection (2) provides that the local authority shall not treat the area less favourably than any other area of the authority simply on account of the BID's existence; in other words, the area of the BID is neither privileged nor discriminated against when it comes to the provision of local authority services.

But the clause is without prejudice to the ability of the local authority and BID company to agree together that, for instance, the BID company would exercise the functions of the local authority where an order under Section 70 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act has been made. This provision replicates an amendment which was tabled and accepted in Committee, but of course it is not only the local authorities, as defined by the Bill as billing authorities for the purposes of non-domestic rates, which provide services. That is why it is necessary once again to refer to "relevant authority". I shall not repeat what I said on the earlier amendment. It takes account not only of the local authority which is the billing authority but those others which I referred to on that amendment.

The second amendment, the new clause following Clause 9, deals with what might be described as capital works proposed by BID schemes. Such proposals, typically, for example, planters, street furniture and so on, may also be on the local authority's agenda, but it will be understandable for a local authority to remove such proposals from its forward plan once a BID came along with a plan to make the improvements. That would seem perhaps to be undesirable.

On one view, such a consequence recognises that businesses which want improvement now rather perhaps than three or four years down the tracks would have to pay for that advantage, but in any event it would seem right that an authority which is contemplating improvements when a BID application is made should at least be required to inform the applicant that improvements are in the pipeline. That knowledge may prompt the applicant to delay setting up a BID or wait to see what the local authority actually does. Therefore what the clause provides is a notification procedure. The requirement to notify applies to the relevant authority which means that the obligation is not confined to the local authority to which the application is made, and, as I said, takes account of the fact that other authorities may have relevant capital works in mind.

The fact that a relevant authority may have provided facilities given time, may even have had plans to start work on them, will also seem to demand at least consideration by that authority of the making of a financial contribution to the cost of the BID, and to have them in contemplation, the authority must, after all, have seen a public benefit.

So these two clauses together cover a range of issues which may well arise on the application of a BID where there is work in contemplation, and where the local authority might therefore wish to have regard to that and must notify the BID applicant. The second clause seeks

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to deal with the situation by requiring the relevant authority to consider the making of a financial contribution where in the opinion of the authority it is likely that the improvements would have been made, or at least started, in the period during which the proposed BID will be in existence. I beg to move.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for bringing forward amendments to address the situation of additionality, and, in particular, capital. If one is looking at local areas, it is important that businesses wishing to combine through the purpose of a BID to bring forward relatively small capital improvements, which can in small district shopping centres make a remarkable difference, should be able to do so. The amendment represents safeguards. It enables that to happen but it also safeguards the position of the local authority's programme and the possibility of a contribution. Therefore I welcome the amendment.

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