Business Improvement Districts establish new partnership with IPM

The Institute of Place Management (IPM) has been chosen as the new partner organisation to support the development of a unified and independent representative body for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) following an extensive industry-led research and selection process by a broad cross section of England’s leading BIDs.

BIDs were first established in England by Parliament in 2003 and there are now over 250 operating throughout the UK.  Requiring a local ballot of businesses for approval, BIDs operate in commercial and industrial areas and raise some £75 million of investment for town centres alone.

As well as providing services, BIDs are increasingly working with local partners to manage places and influence their economic development. By focusing on the local, using their own income streams and working collaboratively with the relevant local authorities and other local delivery organisations, BIDs are achieving real place improvements that reflect local needs.

In 2016, amidst a growing recognition that the potential of BIDs and the lessons that may arise from them for other forms of more local governance, are not being fully realised, a broad cross section of leading Business Improvement Districts (see below) responded to the growing need for greater industry-wide support and representation of BIDs. They commissioned Rocket Science to carry out an independent piece of consultative research which produced the Representing BIDs report.

Drawing on feedback from over 100 BIDs, as well as government and private sector stakeholders, the research confirmed the need for a single, independent, member-owned body to represent the BID industry.  The report set out a clear picture of what BIDs and their partners are looking for, as well as identifying the current gaps in the support required to meet the needs of a burgeoning industry.

The research findings informed a specification of the required service, and existing suppliers were formally invited to respond via a competitive tendering process. Expressions of interest were received from four organisations, each setting out their offer to meet the priority needs of the industry. Following a rigorous and independently-managed assessment process, a panel of BIDs representing the different English regions interviewed three shortlisted organisations.

The Institute of Place Management was selected for having the requisite capacity, standing and independence to assist in elevating standards of performance and governance across the BID industry and in the interests of BID levy payers.  The selection panel also felt IPM was best placed to work with government-policy makers, LEPs, local government and those providing commercial services within the industry to raise the profile and impact of BIDs.

Those organisations which were unsuccessful, will clearly still provide services and products for practitioners in the increasingly commercial market for BID-support services.  The panel invites them to collaborate with the IPM and work collectively in the interests of improving standards and raising the voice of the industry.

Speaking on behalf of the Representing BIDs Steering Group, Andrew Cooper commented:

“The Representing BIDs Steering Group, comprising BIDs from all areas of the country, unanimously recommended the decision to select IPM.  We found the process to have been healthy for the industry; it has already brought practitioners closer together with those who provide, support, consultancy and services which can only be good for the future of BIDs as a whole.”

Cathy Parker, Chair of the Institute of Place Management said:

“We are delighted to have been invited to work with the industry to build a membership body that is widely supported by BIDs, their levy payers, other membership bodies, service providers and government organisations.  IPM is entirely committed to developing the Representing BIDs service in a way that is driven by BIDs and reflects the values by which BIDs are managed whilst bringing our extensive experience and knowledge of place management to bear."

Simon Quin, a Director of the Institute of Place Management said:

“In the coming weeks, IPM will work with BIDs to agree a detailed action plan for the next 12 months. We will jointly establish a BIDs group and develop services and materials that will serve existing, new and prospective BIDs. This will be a voice for the industry to government at all levels, to the business community and to other interested parties. We will also jointly identify best practice, develop accreditation and courses and define research agendas. We will work together to better understand decision making and management at a local level, which is potentially of wider relevance to inform current devolution debates.”

The BIDs responsible for commissioning the research are: Acocks Green BID (Birmingham), Baker Street Quarter BID (London), Bath BID, Better Bankside (London), Bristol - Destination Bristol, Bristol Broadmead BID, Bristol City Centre BID, Brixton BID), Cathedral Quarter (Derby), Colmore BID (Birmingham), Croydon BID, Fitzrovia BID (London), Heart of London BID, Kingstonfirst BID, Leamington BID, Leeds BID, Lincoln BID, Liverpool BID, Love Wimbledon BID, Newmarket BID, New West End Company (London), Newbury BID, Norwich BID, Paddington BID, Stratford BID (London), Team London Bridge, We are Waterloo BID, Winchester BID