The Leeds Business Improvement District has accrued 1,010 members and generated £2.4m in levies in its first 18 months in operation as it eyes up a number of exciting new initiatives for the next year.
The Leeds BID as it is known, works to improve the quality of life for the city centre’s business community.
Perhaps best known for being the organisation behind the bowler hat-wearing City Ambassadors who welcome visitors into Leeds and inform them where they needed to go, it works with businesses of all kinds, from retailers to hotels, to Leeds Teaching Hospitals.
Part of a city-wide drive to make Leeds more welcoming to visitors it has seen high levels of engagement and very positive feedback from levy-payers into the BID.
Andrew Cooper, chief executive, told The Yorkshire Post that one of the key initiatives over the forthcoming months will be to try and attain Purple Flag status for Leeds, an accreditation similar to the Blue Flag scheme for the country’s beaches and which denotes that a city or town has a safe and well-managed night time environment and economy.
The move will take on particularly resonance in two weeks time when John Lewis opens for business and the BID is working with other city stakeholders to make Leeds a hotspot for evening retail activity.
“We have some really strong partnerships in Leeds for the night-time economy,” he said.
“We are funding taxi marshals which really helps some of the low-level anti-social behaviour stuff. Through this accreditation process it is really looking at getting people round the table, from door staff to bar managers to police.
“They do work really well together. There is an honesty in terms of gaps where we could be doing better.
“In order to make the city feel a bit more friendly and that transition between finishing work and the night life. It needs a different dynamic in terms of bringing in more events like Light Night.
“Someone said a successful city is one where you do not have to change to go back out. There’s some really exciting restaurants and bars here. It is a big opportunity”
Business Improvement Districts are based on a model established in New York City in the 1970s to reverse the decline in the city’s fortunes.
The Leeds BID is one of dozens across the country and one of the newest, having been founded on April 1 2015.
Now operating out of a new base on Briggate it has also been successful at bringing a number of high profile events into the city centre.
The Audio Radio Industry Awards, formerly the Sony Awards, is coming to Leeds later in the months. Opened by Kaiser Chiefs and presented by Sarah Cox it will bring Leeds to a national audience.
The other big event it has been involved in is Big Hospitality Conversation, a national event to create 60,000 jobs by the year’s end and the Leeds Digital Jobs Fair which is already on the verge of selling out.
Mr Cooper said he also wanted the BID to help address the skills shortages seen in Leeds.
“We can use the BID to get people around the table,” he said.