Renewal Ballot FAQs

‘BID’ stands for ‘Business Improvement District’. It is a defined commercial area where new funding can be raised through a ‘levy’ on all businesses within that area, to invest in initiatives to improve the local trading environment. BIDs enter into baseline agreements with the local authority and other service providers which guarantee the level of service provision in the area. These ensure that any services the BID provides are truly additional.

The first Business Improvement Association was established in Bloor West Village in Toronto in 1970. It came about because of transport infrastructure improvements (a new subway) that took shoppers quickly to other shopping districts. A number of local businesses came together wanting to invest in upgrading their area in order to attract shoppers back into it but were frustrated that not all businesses would join them. They therefore lobbied the City and the Ontario government to introduce a means of raising funds from businesses that all would pay if it was overseen by an elected body. The Ontario Municipal Act allowed this to happen.

UK Town and city centres have been losing shoppers to other locations, mainly out of town, from the 1980s onwards. The initial response was the establishment of an extensive network of Town Centre Management partnerships. Although many of these initiatives were successful, they were limited in the scope of what they could achieve. Looking to North America, it was evident that if a way could be found to introduce BIDs in the UK, this could potentially bring significant increases in the investment available.

The government announced that BIDs would be introduced to the UK in April 2001. The introduction required two pieces of legislation and these were passed in 2003 and 2004 and Kingston First became the first BID in the UK in 2005. Today BIDs in the UK are generating a total annual economic contribution of over £130 million according to the 2017 National BIDs Survey.

A BID can only be formed following consultation and a ballot in which businesses vote on a BID Proposal or business plan for the area. The ballot is run by the local authority or outsourced by the local authority to a third party. All businesses eligible to pay the levy are balloted. For a BID to go ahead the ballot must be won on two counts: straight majority and majority of rateable value. This ensures that the interests of large and small businesses are protected. There is no minimum turnout threshold. The ballot is run independently by the local authority.

In 2014 the BID 2 ballot received a 47.77% voter turnout, with 71% voting in favour and 70% by rateable value. This can be confirmed by Electoral Services.

The BID ballot, which is a 28-day postal ballot, is run by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council as the local authority and therefore the “ballot holder”. BID regulations state that:

14.—(1) As soon as practicable after the day of the ballot, the ballot holder shall make arrangements for counting the votes cast on such of the ballot papers as have been duly returned (in accordance with paragraph 13(1)) and record the number counted. (2) No person other than the ballot holder and his clerks may be present at the counting of the votes, unless permitted by the ballot holder to attend.”

The reason the ballot papers are counted in private is that business and contact names are on the ballot papers, and how a business votes is private.

All eligible businesses within the BID boundary with a Rateable Value exceeding £10,000 will be able to vote. And remember the BID can only go ahead if you vote YES.

The responsibility lies with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council's ballot holder to decide who to issue the notice of ballot and then the subsequent ballot paper to. It is then up to the recipient to decide whether they have the jurisdiction within their business to cast the vote. In the event that a business feels the ballot paper should be re-issued to another person within the business, a proxy application can be made to the Electoral Services Department of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. The deadline for proxy applications is 5pm on Monday 21 October 2019.

No. Business rates are collected by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and redistributed at a national level. The council spends the allocated funding on services that are both statutory and discretionary, and businesses have very little say on what these services are. BIDs differ from this as the money is collected locally, ring-fenced and controlled and managed by you. It can only then be spent on initiatives detailed in business plan that you have agreed to. The BID levy does not pay for anything covered by your business rates.

No. We have established a baseline service provision from the local authorities. More information on this will be available in due course.

Each year the BID will produce an annual performance report to show what the BID is delivering and the Return on Investment for levy payers.

Voting YES to continue Solihull BID will mean that you can expect a better marketed, maintained and managed town centre; you will be contributing to the £3.2million invested to improve Solihull over the next five years. And the BID will only go ahead if it receives more YES votes than no votes, by number and Rateable Value.

Solihull will no longer have a BID. Voting no will mean that you are saying no to the following things:

  • Town Hosts, Enforcement Officers and Evening Guardians keeping the town centre safe
  • The Solihull BID Card
  • Events programme including the Solihull Food & Drink Festival, Solihull Jazz Festival and the Festive Feast market
  • Stock-loss training, DISC reporting and liaison with local authorities to voice your concerns and reduce crime
  • A joined up approach to manage rough sleeping, begging and busking
  • Town centre branding and animation of public spaces
  • A dedicated website and social media feed promoting the town centre and its businesses
  • The InSolihull Magazine
  • The Solihull BID Excellence Awards
  • The Solihull BID Business Expo
  • The BID Business Club and related networking events
  • Christmas lights across the whole town centre

You will lose the opportunity to make a difference to the town centre.

Long term investment: BIDs allow businesses to influence economic change in their area by raising their own pot of money that is spent on their priorities.

Economic growth: BIDs deliver good value projects through collective procurement, promote economic growth through enhanced footfall and regional presence, establish practical links between private and public sector institutions, and attract additional inward investment.

Competitive advantage: BIDs help to establish a competitive advantage by providing an improved environment for clients and employees and better facilities for businesses.

Lobbying: BIDs are representative of local businesses and so they can lobby on their behalf with the local authority and other agencies to effect change.

There are now over 300 BIDs established and operating across the British Isles and they are growing at a rate of over 25 a year.

If you vote ‘yes’ you will create an extra £3.2million over five years, Solihull will be better promoted, better presented and more vibrant. This will help to increase footfall, improve sales and make Solihull town centre more attractive, safer and better managed. You could also see savings to your bottom line and a much ‘higher profile’ for the town centre and therefore your business. A BID will also increase communication between businesses and deliver results. You will be an integral part of the town centre's success and an important voice in the process.

You also gain the BID Board representing a broad range of sectors and size of business for the town centre. The Board are an amazing resource who volunteer their time, for free, to ensure your voices and priorities are the focus of BID activities. You can see who they are here

A BID lasts for five years. If it is successful, another ballot may be held towards the end of this period to decide whether the BID should continue for another five years.

The alternative is to ‘do nothing’. That means that new businesses or visitors will not come to Solihull and existing businesses may go elsewhere, seduced by other towns that are making this kind of investment.

The public sector will pay the levy in the same way as other businesses in the BID area. Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council own 18 hereditaments in the town centre (at the time of writing this) and will be paying accordingly.

No. A positive result in the ballot will mean that all eligible businesses over the threshold and within the BID boundary are required by law to pay for a 5 year period.

Yes, if a majority vote in favour by number and rateable value, the levy will become mandatory. Payment of the levy carries the same enforcement as non-domestic rates.

The levy is a percentage of rateable value so generally, you will be paying a lot less than the multiples. However, the benefits will be equitable. The projects and activities of the BID are designed to enhance the trading environment across the whole town centre.

We will enter into baseline agreements with the local authorities and other service providers. These agreements will guarantee the level of service provision in the area and show you what the councils will continue to provide. In this way you can see who does what and be confident that the BID investment is providing added value.

The BID Levy is based on a Chargeable Day, in our case 1st August the start of the BID year. What this means is that whoever is liable for the Business Rates on this day each year is also liable for the full BID levy, in a single payment. This means that there are no refunds available for the balance of the year if you move out of the premises for which the levy is liable; the balance of the levy is then a matter for negotiation between you and any incoming tenant or the landlord if at the end of the tenancy.

The presence of a BID levy should arise in pre-transaction searches and questions about whether a given property is included in a BID area, and if so, the amount of levy and related matters are included in standard enquiries which are raised in every commercial property transaction.

We are obliged by legislation to use the collection agent used by our local authority. A collection fee of £16,000 per annum is paid to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, a cost that would increase if we collected by instalments. It is the view of the BID Board that this money is better used to invest in the programmes businesses want to see in the town centre, not on collection charges.

Under BID legislation, we are required to produce a send a “Statement of BID Arrangements” (commonly known as the Business Plan) to businesses ahead of the BID ballot in order for businesses to understand what they will be voting on. The Business Plan is based on extensive consultation. Reference to this plan is essential for levy payers to help them decide on how to vote in the ballot. We would like to increase our voter turnout and so we will be developing marketing materials to create awareness of the ballot.