Bedford leads market town BIDs

Published on 29 April 2014

BedfordBID, the UK’s first market town Business Improvement District, joined the Govt Minister for High Streets for a top meeting on Monday (April 28th).

Rae Levene, Chair of BedfordBID, who has backed the BID as a volunteer for ten years, was able to talk about the challenges facing all town centres today.

He also said that it was critical that BIDs were recognised as a key solution where big and small businesses wanted a voice about how their town centres were run. Other initiatives may work elsewhere – but a town centre like Bedford with nearly 800 organisations of all sizes needed a business-minded approach.

The British BIDs event was attended by Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for High Streets. It was staged at DCLG, Eland House, London.

Said Rae: “Bedford has led the way in being the first market and county town to become a Business Improvement District in 2005. As such we had no blueprint to follow – others now follow our example in fact.

“We have evolved to meet the changing face of retail and we believe that businesses who are paying rent and rates in the town centre are a vital voice. In Bedford national chains, the Harpur Centre, major organisations like Bedford College and more,  all back the BID trading environment which helps independents to succeed and which encourages investment.

“The Business Improvement District of Bedford brings them all together and allows them to act at the speed of business – not bureaucracy.”

BedfordBID represents 575 levy-paying businesses, and supports many more. The smallest companies do not pay a levy but still benefit from events and activities.

Brandon Lewis MP visited Bedford in October 2013 with Mary Portas and on that day the Government announced that BIDs were the way ahead. Bedford had earlier won a £51,000 Portas pot fund, helped by the BedfordBID, which has been used to highlight the High Street. That fund has now largely been spent.

The BID collects an annual income of £450,000 a year. It comes up for election among businesses every five years.

Photo shows Minister, left,  on walkabout in Bedford on October 2013 with Christina Rowe, BID Director and Ian Pryce CBE, Principal of Bedford College -  a big BID supporter.

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