Brixton businesses vote to renew improvement district

BID team members, councillors and board members celebrate the result in Lambeth town hall. Centre: BID director Michael Smith with co-chairs Laverne Walker of Sackville Travel (to his left) and Elly Foster of Satay Bar, Market House and Nanban
BID team members, councillors and board members celebrate the result in Lambeth town hall. Centre: BID director Michael Smith with co-chairs Laverne Walker of Sackville Travel (left) and Elly Foster of Satay Bar, Market House and Nanban

The Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) will operate for another five years after 500-plus local businesses voted to renew its remit.

The result was announced by a Lambeth council returning officer in the town hall this morning (1 November).

Some 302 of 513 eligible businesses, a turnout of 59%, voted by 228 to 56, with 18 spoilt ballot papers, to renew.

A BID is a partnership between a local authority and local businesses that is intended to provide additional services or improvements in a specific area.

BIDs must be agreed by ballot and are funded in whole or in part by a levy on businesses in the area that are liable to pay business rates.

The BID concept began in Canada and has spread to the USA, South Africa, New Zealand and Germany, as well as the UK. They were introduced here by the Blair Labour government in 2003 after initial research commissioned by the previous Conservative government.

The present government launched a consultation on BIDs in March 2015 to which it has not yet produced a response.

To ensure a degree of balance between large and small companies in a BID area, they must be approved or renewed both by a majority of eligible businesses and by a majority of the total rateable value of all eligible businesses. The Brixton renewal ballot saw a majority of 80.3% of votes cast and 83.8% of rateable value.

Once a BID is established, businesses cannot opt out and must pay the levy involved.

The latest figures available, from 2016, show that there are a total of 270 BIDs in the UK, of which 227 are active.

Brixton’s BID is run by Brixton BID Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation established in January 2014 by local businesses.

BID team (l-r) Reece Simwogerere, projects assistant; Ingrid Wright, marketing and communications lead; Gianluca Rizzo, operations manager; and director Michael Smith
BID team (l-r) Reece Simwogerere, projects assistant; Ingrid Wright, marketing and communications lead; Gianluca Rizzo, operations manager; and director Michael Smith

It is overseen by a board of local business people, who volunteer their time, and a small team who deliver the BID business plan.

Since 2014 Brixton BID has invested more than £1.75m locally.

In the financial year 2017/18, the BID received an income of £414,000 from the levy on local businesses and a total of £480,500 from all sources. Expenditure on core management costs was £97,450. The BID spent £196,450 on marketing and partnerships to promote Brixton, £54,800 on night time economy work and £90,100 on environmental matters.

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