Hexham Business Improvement District | About the BID
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About the BID

Background about Hexham BID

What is a BID?
A Business Improvement District or BID is a defined area within which the local businesses community work together and invest collectively in new projects and services that they have prioritised to address opportunities and problems that affect their businesses, staff and clients.
Visit the British BIDs info website

 

What are the Benefits
The BID itself provides a means by which businesses and organisations have the power to raise their own funds to address the priorities that matter to them, and to bring about positive improvements to the trading environment that benefits the whole community.
A spirit of collaboration, sharing knowledge, pooling resources and benefiting from economies of scale can add value to each individual business as well as improving the business district as a whole. Whether its focus is attracting more visitors and encouraging customers to stay longer, or raising the standards of local services and facilities, action to deliver an agreed set of projects and services has the potential to transform an area through collective action.

 

Is it just another tax?
The levy is not a tax and does not go to either the Government or the local authorities. Business Rates, together with the Council Tax, pays for statutory and non-statutory services such as cleansing, lighting, policing etc. The BID levy is a separate, specific fund to invest in projects and services identified and controlled by the businesses themselves. It provides for improvements and benefits in addition to existing services provided by the County and Town Councils and other public service bodies.

 

How do I pay for the levy?
On receipt of your bill, you can pay directly to Northumberland County Council who collect the Levy on behalf of Hexham BID.

 

There are a number of payment options available for you to pay your BID Levy. These include:

  • On the Internet – You can pay online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by debit card or credit card (including Electron) on the Council’s website at http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/SelfService/Pay.aspx
  • By telephone – We accept debit and credit card payments (including Electron) by telephone. Please call 0345 600 6400 and select Option 5 to speak to an operator.
  • Internet Banking – Payments can be made online through your bank via the internet banking service. In order to make a payment your bank will need the Council’s bank sort code, bank account number and a billing reference number.
    Payee Details: Northumberland County Council
    Bank Name: Barclays Bank
    Sort Code: 20-58-17
    Account Number: 53023915
  • By Post – Cheques and postal orders, made payable to ‘Northumberland County Council’ should be sent to the Cashiers Section, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF

Please write your Bid Account Reference (as shown on your bill) and the name and address of your business on the back of your cheque or postal order.

Please note that payments sent by post can take up to 4 working days to reach your BID account.

 

Who is liable to pay the BID Levy?
Any person, company, charity* or non-profit making organisation who is the occupier or leaseholder or where the property is empty and a lease does not exist, the owner, of the non-domestic rated property within the BID area is liable for the BID levy.  The rules about BIDs are set out in the Business Improvement District Regulations 2004 legislation available at www.gov.uk/guidance/business-improvement-districts

*Note some charities with Rateable Values under 20,000 may be exempt

 

Are there any exclusions within the Hexham BID?
Certain types of assessments have been excluded from paying the BID Levy. These include:-

  • Public Conveniences;
  • Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s);
  • Telecommunication Masts;
  • Advertising Hoardings;
  • Schools
  • Manufacturing and industrial businesses (as per standard industrial classification codes) with a rateable value of £1m or more will have their levy capped at £10,000 to mitigate against a disproportionate charge that they would otherwise be liable for at a levy of 1%
  • Local Charities with a rateable value of less than £20,000 will be exempt from the BID levy. Local is defined as “a charity established for purposes which are directed wholly or mainly to the benefit of residents and users in Hexham (whether stated in the trusts of the charity or implicit in its purposes”

 

Where is the BID Area?

The BID Area encompasses the whole of the town of Hexham.  There are a total of 78 streets within the boundary of the Hexham BID containing businesses that will be liable for the BID levy. For a full list click here
map

 

How long will the BID last for? 
The BID period for Hexham commenced from 1 October 2016 and will run for a period of four and a half years, ending on 31 March 2021.

 

Why is the BID operating for four and a half years instead of five years?
Following the successful ballot the BID was due to begin operating in April 2016 for a period of five years. However an appeal was lodged with the Government which delayed the launch. The outcome of the appeal which upheld the ballot result was not announced until September 2016. As such the BID began operating in October 2016 for four and a half years until March 2021.

How did the Hexham BID develop?

  • The BID’s set up in 2016 followed a one year campaign involving monthly open meetings, events, mailshots, and advertising to engage the business community.
  • Following the campaign in January and February 2016 all eligible businesses were sent a ballot pack by the appointed election agent of Northumberland County Council and were able to return a postal vote registering a yes or no vote over a four week period.
  • Each business entitled to vote in a Business Improvement District ballot is allowed one vote in respect of each property occupied or (if unoccupied) owned by them in the geographical area of the Business Improvement District.
  • A successful vote is one that has a simple majority both in votes cast and in rateable value of votes cast.
  • This process followed statutory guidance and adhered to a series of required milestones which were reported to British Bids, the organisation set up by government to help business improvement districts development.
  • All the events and activities over the year gradually informed the development of a Business Plan for the BID, setting out what the programme will do which was drafted jointly involving businesses in the town and then finalised well before the ballot.
  • The original idea to establish a Business Improvement District was generated by local businesses who discussed its potential in a range of forums in the town particularly during 2014.  This led to a bid being lodged to British BIDs for loan funding to appoint a Project Manager and undertake the above consultation and development process in 2015.

Outcome of the ballot

  • Hexham businesses voted ‘Yes’ to create a new Business Improvement District or BID.  Of those who voted, 82% by rateable value and 66% by number of businesses were in favour.
  • This result was declared by UK Engage Ltd, Northumberland County Councils independent election agent on 18th February 2016.
  • A total of 232 businesses voted out of an electorate of 650 businesses resulting in a turnout of 36%.
  • This was a democratic process and followed over a year of development and consultation in the town.
  • Every eligible business property was sent a notice of ballot and a ballot pack including a business plan and voting forms.

How does the BID add to what is already happening?

  • The purpose of the BID is to deliver projects and services which the business community think will help them to grow and prosper in both the town centre and industrial areas of town.
  • These services must be additional to existing services in the town, the County Council, Town Council and Police have all signed ‘baseline agreements’ which set out what is already available.  This baseline will form the basis for what the BID will deliver in addition to existing services.  This information is available on the BID website.

How will projects be developed

  • The local business volunteers on the BID Board are developing the BID projects working with partners and businesses in the town.
  • The not for profit social enterprise ‘Hexham BID Ltd’ is based in Hexham with over £1m funding over four and a half years being invested in projects that make a difference to the town centre and industrial parts of town.

How many BIDs are there?

  • This is the first BID in Northumberland joining over 200 BIDs across the country including nearby in Penrith, Kendal, Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland.

Organisation and governance of the BID

  • A voluntary Board will see the company through its initial development.  There will then be a annual general meeting establishing arrangements for the full four and a half year initiative called within 18 months of the launch of the BID in October 2016.
  • The BID is open and transparent – accountable to its members (the levy-paying businesses), with regular communications, events and opportunities to get involved being planned for the future.

Funding of the BID

  • The BID’s funding is derived from the ‘BID levy.’  This is an annual charge of 1% of premises’ rateable value, or if the rateable value is under £20,000 an annual levy of £200 on every eligible business.
  • The levy funds will be held and used in Hexham.  Around four out of five businesses will pay the minimum amount which works out at approximately £3.80 per week.
  • The BID business plan commits us to delivering a substantial range of projects which will make a difference across town and different types of business locally.

Who collects the Levy?

  • The levy is collected by the County Council via an annual bill, the first bill is for 6 months from October 2016 to March 2017 and annual bills will be issued in subsequent years each April.  Once collected the funding from the levy will be passed to the Hexham BID Ltd company in Hexham.

Where will the BID invest its funding?

  • The BID is for the whole town and there a range of projects and initiatives planned to benefit different types of business and businesses in different locations.
  • There will be investment in both the retail centre and the industrial estates.
  • Importantly, if businesses have ideas and projects they think could benefit the town there is the opportunity to get involved and help to ensure the BID benefits your interests.

How was the BIDs development funded?

  • The BIDs development prior to February 2016 was funded by an interest free loan of £40k from British BIDs (funded by government) which was held by the County Council.
  • If the BID ballot had not been successful the loan would of not needed to be repaid.  Now that the BID has been approved the loan will be paid back by the BID within the first two years of operation so that this funding can be used to fund other BID developments elsewhere.
  • The loan paid for the project management costs mentioned above, the election costs including branding, business plans development and all the promotional activity including the monthly events etc.
  • Other than the project management costs the majority of the funding was spent using local suppliers in Hexham.
  • The time and input of local businesses involved in the campaign was voluntary.

What happens after the first BID Operating Period?

  • Prior to the end of the first BID operating period the BID will launch a reballot campaign to enter into a second five year period of operation from 2021.
  • Once again all eligible businesses will be able to cast a postal vote in the re-ballot.

Payment and Bills

How is my bill calculated?

For 2016/17, the BID will operate for six months so a pro rata bill has been issued.  The six month levy charge has been set at 1% of the RV, or a six month contribution of £100 for those with a RV of less than £20,000.

In subsequent years an annual bill will be issued in April each year and the same rules will apply, a 12 month levy charge of 1% of the RV of business premises, or a 12 month contribution of £200 for properties with a RV of less than £20,000, whichever is higher.

In subsequent years, the levy will increase each year by the annual inflationary factor for local non domestic rate bills as calculated by the Government.

What happens if I move out?
If you move during the financial year, your levy will be apportioned on a daily basis up to the point when you ceased to be liable for the premises.
What happen if my RV changes?
The levy will be calculated on the RV that applies on 1 April of the financial year the charge relates to (or 1st October in year 1 of the BID). If the RV should increase or decrease during the financial year, there will be no effect on the levy until the following financial year.
I have appealed against the rateable value of my property; do I still have to pay?
Yes, you will still be required to pay your BID Levy regardless of any appeal you have with the Valuation Office. Once the RV has been amended, the Council will adjust your bill from the following financial year.
Do I have to pay the levy if the property is empty?
Yes. All properties within the designated BID area are subject to the BID Levy even if they are empty.
Are there any reductions available?
The BID levy is payable on all properties within the BID area whether they are occupied or empty. No allowances will be made for Listed Buildings, Serviced buildings or those in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief, mandatory and/or discretionary rate relief.
What happens if I do not pay?
In the event of non-payment, the Council will issue a reminder notice requiring payment of the levy within 7 days. If payment is not received within a further 7 days, a court summons will be issued, which will incur £50.00 costs.

If payment of the outstanding levy and costs are not received before the court hearing, the Council will then apply to the Magistrates for a liability order against the ratepayer, as well as a further £50.00 in costs.