BIDs unlikely to gain new powers: city chief
BUSINESS Improvement Districts are unlikely to evolve into "super BIDs" with their own powers but there is scope for closer working with local authorities, Plymouth's city centre manager says.
Clint Jones attended a Westminster symposium to discuss the concept of "super BIDs", a recommendation stemming from Mary Portas' review of Britain's beleaguered high streets.
The retail guru, famous for TV's Mary Queen of Shops, recommended successful BIDs should take on more responsibilities and powers, for instance gaining compulsory purchase powers to bring empty and/or strategic properties up to scratch.
But the Association of Town Centre Management's (ATCM) meeting with Government ministers heard legislation would be needed to create such a "super BID" concept.
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The ATCM wants to see BIDs expanded to influence economic regeneration projects, the use of vacant units, inward investment and employment initiatives.
But it now looks more likely BIDs will evolve via their relationships with councils rather than by gaining new powers.
Plymouth, which has city centre and waterfront BIDs, was especially invited to the Westminster discussion because the Waterfront BID's links with Destination Plymouth are seen as an example to watch.
"It was a really interesting discussion around the concept of super BIDs," said Mr Jones. "It was very much the first think tank on the concept. It was useful.
"But I don't think we will be seeing a raft of super BIDs flowing out."
He said there was "some agreement" that "super BIDs" as envisaged, were "not the way to go".
However, BID development was discussed, particularly the "sphere of influence" a BID can have, such as its potential influence on such things as planning decisions, budget commitments, public realm developments, and relationships with landlords.
Mr Jones said: "In Plymouth, with Destination Plymouth, we are ahead of the game compared to other cities.
"It's about how can BIDs start to make a difference.
"Would a BID want power to compulsory purchase buildings? Probably not. They don't have the capacity, know-how or skills, but that's not to say they can't work with local authorities.
"It's more about building relationships."
Mr Jones said the London meeting was also useful ahead of Plymouth's re-application to be a "Portas pilot" and receive cash to help the shopping area.
The city was overlooked when the first 12 successful schemes were announced, last month.
Liskeard, in South East Cornwall, was included and will now share a £1.2million pot.
At the time of the announcement, Mr Jones said he was "not surprised" Plymouth missed out on the first wave because it had been made clear the cash may not go to locations with BIDs.
But he said the London meeting "has given me some idea about re-submitting the application for Portas money."