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Cheltenham hails impact of BID following scrapping of late-night levy


Cheltenham Borough Council has praised the success of the introduction of a Business Improvement District (BID) in the area.

The authority implemented the BID in August 2016 after deciding to scrap the late-night levy that had been put in place two years earlier, as this policy did not raise the funds expected.

According to Kevan Blackadder, BID director in Cheltenham, the overall income generated by the BID is “significantly” larger than that generated by the late-night levy, the Publican’s Morning Advertiser reports.

Furthermore, he said the overall amount pub and bar operators are paying under the new measure is slightly less than before.

Mr Blackadder stated that, for the town centre licensed premises making BID levy payments, the activity is concentrated on their location, rather than spread across the whole borough. In addition, he said they have a “direct say” in how this money is used and are seeing a “far greater return” than they did under the late-night levy system.

Research by Cheltenham BID earlier this year found that licensed premises in the area are broadly satisfied with the new approach. Indeed, 25 per cent rated it as excellent and 50 per cent said it was good, while a further 25 per cent classed it as average.

Mr Blackadder has therefore said he would “definitely recommend adopting a BID in other areas that have a significant number of late-night operators”.

According to the 2017 National BID Survey, just 2.8 per cent of the 178 BIDs then in place also had a late-night levy in effect – a reflection of how BIDs are increasingly being seen to make the latter measure unnecessary.

An average of 25 BIDs have been established throughout the country each year since 2012, with the number now exceeding 300.

Jimmy Elias, chairman of Cheltenham Nightsafe and operations director for Fever Bars, added that the Cheltenham BID has “done loads to bring more people into the town”.

He said that, since the measure was implemented, there has been big investment in marketing the area, while it has also helped the day and night-time economies “work more hand in hand”.

BID ‘not just another tax’

Dave Owens, the former chair of Wakefield BID, has urged licensees to be open-minded about the introduction of a BID in their area, as he believes it is more than simply another tax.

Indeed, he said licensees tend to understand the idea behind the policy when they are told “the reason for spending the money and that they influence what it is spent on”.

Mr Owens said the industry should therefore “not just support their BID, but get involved so they have their say on what the money is spent on”.

He noted that one of the benefits of the BID was that it enabled licensees to stop the council spending money on “things we didn’t agree with”, which shows they can “have a big influence”.

Mr Owens went on to state that although a single business can find it difficult to be heard, if it is speaking as part of “a collective shouting the same thing, the local authorities have to take you seriously”.

He added that, while the BID has been “great for business from a marketing and financial point of view”, it does take time to see the benefits, with results only becoming apparent in Wakefield in the second year.

Robert Botkai, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: “Seems that the late-night levy was not a cunning plan after all.”

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