Directors press ahead with improvement district plan

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DIRECTORS from some of Yorkshire’s biggest city centre investors are pressing ahead with plans to set up a Business Improvement District in Leeds.

A feasibility steering group made up of representatives from companies including Land Securities, Town Centre Securities and Hammerson, is consulting businesses in Leeds city centre to find out whether there is enough support to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) company. The company would give organisations in the area a direct say in how the city centre is managed and promoted.

There are over 160 BIDs in the UK where levies are collected through the business rate which pay for additional services, over and above those provided by the public sector. The funds collected through the levy give local organisations the power to raise funds locally to be spent locally, with the aim of improving their own business environment.

Mark Goldstone, chairman of the Leeds BID Feasibility Study Steering Board and head of business representation and policy at Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The opening of First Direct Arena and Trinity Leeds have raised the bar in terms of city offer and with more in the pipeline with the long awaited Victoria Gate and John Lewis development a Business Improvement District has the potential to give businesses in the city centre greater say in how they would like to see the city presented to the outside world.”

Gerald Jennings, a member of the steering group and portfolio director for the north of England at Land Securities, said: “Some people might think Leeds is already a successful city so why does it need a BID? But we are looking at how BIDs have helped other cities to become more successful.

“We can’t afford to sit on our laurels and think we have done enough because our competitors will always up their game.”

A series of consultation workshops for business networks and organisations will be held in January as Leeds moves on to the next stage of the BID process.

The first workshop will take place Tuesday, January 14 at Land Securities offices at City Exchange on Albion Street in Leeds.

Two further workshops will take place on Thursday, January 23.

Businesses interested in attending one of the Leeds BID workshops can contact Katy Raife at Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce on 0113 247 000 or email katy.raife@yourchamber.org.uk, indicating the workshop they would like to attend.

Details can be found at www.leedsbid.com.

Graham Pearce of KPMG

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