The second Big City BIDs Conference took place in Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry on 24th April. Organised by CityCo Manchester, the Manchester BID and The BID Foundation, the event drew practitioners from most major cities and a few other places. The event was sold out some weeks ahead of time.

Opened by Vaughan Allen of CityCo, the first session explored issues around renewal of BIDs. The session heard from Phil Schulze of Manchester BID, Will Dyson of Baker Street Quarter and Stefan Gurney of Norwich BID about the issues involved in securing a successful reballot.

The event next looked at the implications of GDPR introduction and heard of the various kinds of advice that individual BIDs had received. Vaughan Allen of CityCo and Jonathan Bryce of Colmore BID provided more detail on what they were doing as a response.

Managing BIDs in historic cities was the next session, and this heard from Andrew lowson of York BID, Carl Critchlow of Chester BID and Catherine Turness of Winchester BID. There are particular issues that become apparent in historic environments and the session heard of difficulties in securing planning consent for some things and how listed building status impacts on the BID levy.

Bill Addy of Liverpool BIDs was the next speaker and he outlined the work being done in the city to attract tourism and international visitors. The city has been able to build on being European City of Culture in 2008 with an impressive record of events and investment that is now drawing in significant visitor numbers.

The afternoon started with a look at the future of BIDs and how they were getting their voice heard. Julie Grail of The BID Business introduced the session and some of the issues involved. Simon Quin outline the work The BID Foundation and the Institute of Place Management were doing with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, particularly in respect of BIDs as leaders in town centre regeneration. Ojay MacDonald, the newly appointed CEO of ATCM talked of the issues that Brexit is bringing to moving legislation forward, and outlined some of the key agenda items. The session was concluded by Andrew Cooper, CEO of Leeds BID and Chair of The BID Foundation Council who spoke about how some of the issues BIDs face need to be resolved.

The penultimate session was on transport, air pollution and parking and heard different insights into the work being done in their areas from Peter Williams of Better Bankside, Dan Johnson of the New West End Company and Russell Greenslade of Swansea BID. Each has a broad agenda that is bringing real results and improving the quality of the area.

The final session was a catch-all round up chaired by Vaughan Allen. Throughout the day, attendees were encouraged to interact with the sessions, and considerable input was made. Attendees seemed to find the event extremely useful and nearly all said they would like to attend the next event which is scheduled for Liverpool in the Autumn.

If you are not from a Big City, don't worry - we will be announding details shortly of an event especially for Town BIDs that will be coming up soon.