BID asks traders for their views on city centre priorities ahead of re-ballot

Belfast One, the Belfast City Centre Business Improvement District (BID), which has invested almost £4million in projects over the last five years, is urging businesses to have their say on key priorities for the next five year term.

The BID, which is run as an independent, not for profit company, was set up to promote, enhance and support city centre businesses, and wants to hear from them about what’s most important for the area in the future.

The current BID has been operating since April 2016 after 84 per cent of city centre businesses voted in favour of making Belfast a Business Improvement District in October 2015.

In January 2021, over 600 business will be asked to vote on whether they want to continue to invest in the city centre for another five years. The result will be declared in early March after the re-ballot closes.

Kathleen McBride, Managing Director of Belfast One, said: “After a successful first term, but not without its challenges, we are consulting further with our businesses on the projects they want to see in the business plan for 2021 to 2026.

“Since 2016 we’ve delivered key initiatives across the retail, hospitality and professional services. Ultimately this has driven footfall and spend within the city. We have also worked to improve the city centre physically – making it cleaner, more accessible and safer ­- as well helping to drive down costs for businesses through group purchasing and free training schedules.

“Feedback from traders is that seasonal events like Restaurant Week, Christmas activities, Summer Cinema and Fashion Week have made a real difference to their businesses in the past few years.

“We know that Belfast City Centre is  facing huge struggles in the face of COVID-19 and we want to make sure that our business plan for the next term includes targeted activity that will support our businesses next year but also for the long term.

“We want to continue to play a key role in bringing local businesses and other stakeholders together to help improve their trading environment.

“Our consultations will inform our business plan that we’ll launch in January 2021, ahead of the re-ballot which closes early March 2021.”

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have been operational worldwide for nearly 20 years and there are currently eight in Northern Ireland. As well as Belfast One, they are operating in the Cathedral Quarter and Linen Quarter in Belfast City, Newry, Ballymena, Strabane, Coleraine and Enniskillen.

They are considered a proven regeneration tool providing not just multi-million pound investment, but also giving businesses, working with public agencies, a means by which to take control of their trading environment.

The Belfast One BID is financed by a levy calculated on a business’ rateable value. For a successful re-ballot the BID needs over 50 per cent of business that do vote to vote in favour of the business plan.

Belfast One is encouraging city centre businesses to give their views on what they want to see in the business plan in an online survey on its website. https://belfastone.co.uk/members/belfast-one-business-survey/