Report on the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Bill (NIA Bill 9/11-15)
NIA 67/11-15, Fourth Report of Session 2011-15, Report, Together with Minutes of Proceedings
- Northern Ireland Assembly - Committee for Social Development
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
'Report on the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Bill (NIA Bill 9/11-15)' examines the Business Improvement Districts Bill aims to introduce provisions so that business improvement districts are established on a statutory basis.
BID proposals necessitated a significant degree of flexibility. However, the proposed regulations would be widely consulted on and therefore shaped accordingly by stakeholders. The role and responsibilities of district councils would be unambiguous and transparent. A number of the regulations would be subject to affirmative resolution and therefore subject to a decision of the Assembly.
The Committee also had some concerns about placing a levy on businesses under the current economic conditions. Evidence indicated that the return on the levy, either in financial terms or in services provided, was greater than the levy itself.
Some concern was raised about the 'mandatory' nature of BIDs i.e. a business within a BID has no choice but to pay a levy if the BID proposal is supported in a ballot. The Committee did however recognise that the BID proposal would not progress unless supported by the majority of businesses in the BID and unless a minimum turnout of eligible ratepayers entitled to vote (25%) was achieved.
The Committee recommended that the Department provide funding to support the development of BID proposals as well as having the Department review the work of BID academies so that expertise can be developed here and a BID academy subsequently established in Northern Ireland to share this expertise.
The consultation process on the BID proposal was ultimately shaped by the BID proposers, but the Committee requested assurances that the consultation process would also involve residents. The Committee also believes that residents should be represented on the Board of the BID Company once established.
Clarification is needed on how the provisions would operate and the relationship between councils and businesses. The Bill does not provide a solution to the current difficulties faced by the retail industry, it does however believe that it has potential to enhance collaborative business opportunities for collective benefit.
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