In November 2016 the businesses of St Albans voted in favour of a Business Improvement District, built by local businesses for local businesses and managed by local businesses.

St Albans BID came into effect on 1 April 2017 and after a successful second vote we started our second 5 year term in April 2022 .

FAQs

What is a BID?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area.

The process of developing a BID involves extensive consultation with businesses to establish what improvements they want and may be prepared to pay for. A BID Proposal is then produced and a 28 day postal ballot is held where businesses vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ the proposed programme.

For the BID to go ahead, two conditions must be met; firstly, a majority of those voting have to vote ‘yes’ and secondly those ‘yes’ votes have to represent more than 50% of the total rateable value of all votes cast. There is no minimum turnout threshold. If these conditions are fulfilled, payment of the levy becomes mandatory for all businesses regardless of how they voted. So, a BID will only be established if the majority of businesses, by number and rateable value, want it.

BIDs are viewed by many businesses as a fair and affordable way of creating a ring-fenced fund for up to 5 years that is ‘managed by business for business.’

BIDs are set up with a view of improving services. For example, increasing footfall and generating additional consumer spend, creating cleaner, safer and more vibrant areas.

When did St Albans get a BID?

St Albans BID was created after a successful vote in the autumn of 2016. It launched in the spring of 2017. 

The BID development was initiated with a view of creating a sustainable mechanism for representing business interests and providing support and services to them over and above anything provided by the St Albans District Council.

In 2022, BID secured sufficient votes to secure its second 5-year term.

What is a BID area?

A defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill. This levy is used to fund projects and services that deliver benefits to businesses by making the local area more attractive as a shopping, leisure and tourist destination.

There is no limit on what projects or services can be provided through a Business Improvement District. The only requirement is that it should be in addition to services provided by local authorities.

Click here to view the map of St Albans BID area.

How will the BID improve my business? 

St Albans BID brings an additional annual circa £465k investment into your city centre to provide additional services and initiatives that support and promotes St Albans as a premier, heritage destination and drives a prosperous local economy. 

How does the BID help the community?

BID is not a local authority, we do not have a remit to support the community but through the of our work, we naturally engage with community organisations and residents working or living in the city area.

Under whose authority is the BID delivering services?

St Albans BID is not under the authority of SADC or HCC. The BID’s authority comes from central government and, specifically, the Local Government Act. Local Government Act 2003 (legislation.gov.uk)

The BID is also an authorised body under The Community Right to Challenge (Business Improvement Districts) Regulations 2015 (legislation.gov.uk)

The above Acts provided the legal structure and opportunity for businesses to come together and vote for the creation of a Business Improvement District – St Albans BID.

Who decides what initiatives the BID funds or supports? 

In accordance with the BID plan voted in by levy payers, the BID has funding for investment in community and business initiatives which bring footfall or meet other criteria.

The decision-making is by committee.  The BID may also choose to sponsor other events and activities which celebrate businesses or bring footfall to St Albans, with examples including sponsorship of Chamber of Commerce awards, St Albans City and District food awards, St Albans Film Festival and 2022 Pub Pride. 

To avoid any conflict of interest, Directors will declare any interests in agenda items at the beginning of each decision-making meeting and abstain from voting on those items.

View the current members of the St Albans BID board here.

How is the BID's impact measured?  

Monitoring and measuring the performance and effectiveness of the BIDs activities are an integral and essential part of the plan. Key performance indicators include footfall data, website visits, business surveys, photographic evidence, vacant properties, take-up town trails and media publications. 

Who pays the levy?  

Businesses in the BID area in hereditaments with a rateable value of +£12,000. Levy payers include a mix of independent and national retail, hospitality, professional services, banks, supermarkets, St Albans District Council (SADC), county council, theatres, and the Cathedral. 

How many hereditaments are there in the BID area?

There are circa 474 hereditaments.

This number can change if a hereditaments (premises), are altered in any way.

How much is the annual levy collected?  

Circa ~£465k for the 2022/2023 term. 

Who collects the Levy?  

St Albans District Council. SADC is paid an annual fee by the BID for the collection services. 

Is the BID a contractor to the SADC?  

No, SADC is contracted to the BID for collection services. 

Does SADC contribute other revenue to the BID?   

SADC is required to provide a baseline service, subject to its annual budgets.  For example, baseline street cleaning, delivery of the market, delivery of 3 core annual events, etc.  The Council does not have sufficient funding for Christmas lights but contributes, pending annual spend.  The contribution for 2022/23 was ~£15k. 

Does SADC pay the BID to deliver events?   

No.  The BID has sponsored the key annual events delivered by SADC including Alban Street Festival, Food and Drink Festival and the Christmas Cracker which bring footfall to the BID area. Sponsorship is reviewed annually.

Does BID organise and run its own events?  

Yes. The BID organises events on behalf of levy payers, which are funded by the BID.  For example, George Street businesses hold an annual Gin and Jazz Festival and the BID supports this with funding and resource.  BID also funds other street activities such as entertainers and choirs.    

Why does the BID ask for sponsors?   

The BID has a limited budget to spend on projects and activities which bring footfall to the BID area. Sponsors and partners for events and activities allow us to extend our reach and promotion outside of the BID area. Last year, the BID raised £28k in non-levy income to help fund tourism and footfall-driving activities and promotions. 

Does the BID run the Charter/Christmas/other markets?   

No.  St Albans BID does not run the market, the Christmas market or any other markets.

The market is a BID levy payer and BID works with the market management team to provide additional activities throughout the year, as well as promote the market locally and nationally as a city centre shopping attraction.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the BID responded to a request from SADC to support traders by facilitating extra community markets during COVID-19. As a result, the city centre was vibrant, several businesses were saved, and new market traders were created. 

Does the BID run other markets?   

No. SADC manage the Market and lead on visiting markets. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the BID responded to a request from SADC to support traders by facilitating extra community markets during COVID-19. As a result, the city centre was vibrant, several businesses were saved, and new market traders were created. 

Is the BID responsible for the city centre look and feel? 

Whilst the repair and maintenance of buildings and street furniture fall under the local authorities’ remit, the BID invests in additional initiatives including floral planters, art, and signage to make our city centre vibrant and welcoming for those who live, work, and visit here.  We actively support levy payers with street scene issues and feedback comments and concerns to SADC and HCC. By continuing to work together we can all help to support and sustain a clean, safe, and vibrant city centre. 

What role does BID play with city centre waste management?  

St Albans BID has joined forces with waste company KP Waste, an independent waste and recycling collection company based in Hertfordshire, in a partnership that aims to improve recycling rates and boost the local economy, saving businesses in St Albans money on their commercial waste costs. Levy paying business have the opportunity to receive a concession contract through this partnership.  

Not all city centre businesses use KP Waste. BID will liaise directly with a business if their waste causes problemsBID and Levy payers give feedback to SADC on waste issues that fall within their contract and will engage with the environmental services when issues become a health concern.  

Do any of the Directors get paid?   

No. The BID is a not-for-profit organisation, meaning all surpluses are reinvested into projects in the following year.  All Directors are volunteers, giving their time for free.  

Do any of the Directors singly run the BID?   

No. The Directors operate at a strategic level, meeting bimonthly, and participating on subcommittees. The subcommittees delegate day-to-day operations management and spending to the BID Manager who is supported by CEO Alison Berneye.

The BID board decide the financial allocation of BID levy expenditure for each of its four objectives.

St Albans BID produces a set of annual accounts which are available for levy payers to view.

Does the BID support any political parties?   

No, the BID is apolitical, and bylaws preclude any politicians from being Directors.    

Councillors were Directors in term 1 because under the first term operating agreement Council had 2 automatic seats on the board, one of which went to the incumbent business portfolio holder. There were 3 SADC councillors from 2017 to 2022. There is a new operating agreement for this term and no longer allows automatic appointments.

For operational information, you can view the BID’s Articles of Associations.

Is there representation from SADC on the BID board? 

The Board is apolitical. No political parties, members of political parties, Councillors, or Council Officers or any other representatives of local, county, or national authorities may be a Director. However, the Board may, at its discretion invite Councillors or Council Officers as observers and/or make Director appointments, with or without voting rights, on terms as determined by the Board. 

The Leader of the Council has participated as an observer on the BID board since 2020. The Strategic Director for Strategy, Policy and Transformation has attended during 2022 also as an observer.

Is the BID audited by SADC?   

No. St Albans BID is a private sector limited liability company.  It is not a contractor to SADC and has never been audited by the SADC.  The government legislation does not require BIDs to be audited by Council.   

St Albans BID uses an external third-party bookkeeper as the accountant who prepares the annual accounts. SADC meets with BID officers and receives a full set of accounts annually, and the full BID accounts are posted with Companies House and on the BID website.    

The BID has presented to various Council committees to keep them up to date with the BID projects and activities to help with collaborative working. 

How do you keep levy payers updated on BID activity? 

We keep people updated via our regular newsletters. You can subscribe by clicking on the link on our homepage. See here. https://www.stalbansbid.com/subscribe/  

We aim to increase our communications using social media and opportunities to meet; Meet the BID Team events. 

Where is the BID located?  

The BID has been located in French Row since 2017 and pays market rent to SADC.   

What is the BID’s view and role on the St Albans City Centre Project Board - High Street Recovery (pedestrianisation trials)

BID sits on the Board with no voting or decision-making rights. Our role is to represent businesses and make sure businesses know how to engage in the surveys to feedback their views. To this end BID has facilitated contact between HCC officers and businesses who are both for and against the pedestrianisation. Due to the diversity of views amongst levy payers, BID will not take any specific stance for or against the scheme.

As the Highways Authority, HCC has the final decision. They are working closely with SADC on the trial and have relevant stakeholders around the table of which the BID is one.

You can give your feedback on the trail directly to HCC via the survey found here: www.Hertfordshire.gov.uk/HighStreetRecovery

What is BID’s involvement in The City Centre Vision?

In 2019, the Civic Society and the BID approached SADC concerned that the then draft local plan which was under review by the government, had no protections or strategy for the city centre. There was concern that the proposed government legislation at the time (which has now been implemented), could impact on city centre assets allowing the conversion of retail premises to residential, etc., potentially eroding business assets and reducing a focus on city centre prosperity in tourism and business planning policy.

SADC asked The Civic Society and BID to work together to create a wide community group to develop a vision for the city centre. This group commissioned a report, funded by BID, which took ideas from participant’s discussion to create a benchmark report called St Albans City Centre Vision – Initial Ideas. This report had no formal planning status yet it was hoped the information gathered from a wide range of people would inform next steps towards a planning policy focused on the city centre.

When the then Local Plan was subsequently rejected by the government, that paved the way for an improved (draft) Local Plan which now includes the city centre. Therefore, SADC’s new approach in creating the Local Plan has superseded work on the City Centre Vision. SADC is leading and stakeholders, including BID are involved in the process.