23 February 2022

Councillors provide comment around proposed continuation of business improvement districts

Councillors have this week discussed the proposed continuation of the We Are Inverurie and Rediscover Peterhead business improvement districts for second five-year terms.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Buchan and Garioch area committees which met yesterday (Tues, Feb 22) provided comment on the plans ahead of a meeting of the authority’s Infrastructure Services Committee on March 10 when it will consider the council’s continued support of the BIDs.

The two BID boards have agreed to progress to re-election at the end of their inaugural five-year term with a proposed ballot dates of June 23 for We Are INverurie and September 29 for Rediscover Peterhead.

Since 2014, the council has formally supported BIDs - business-led initiatives for those firms where an annual levy is charged to all commercial buildings falling within a defined area of a town if a yes ballot is successful.

This levy enables projects and statutory services above those that Aberdeenshire Council, Police Scotland, VisitAberdeenshire and Bear Scotland offer as their baseline services.

Following consultation with the businesses a BID Proposal and Business Plan is drawn up which forms the BID companies’ five-year plan for the delivery of these additional projects
and services.

In Inverurie, the current BID has undertaken a number of projects and activities including new Christmas lights and switch-on, a Wedding Weekend, INtune INverurie Music weekend and the Pride of Inverurie Awards.

The BID has also subsidised the provision of hand sanitising stations, provided business training for first aid, customer care, food hygiene and social media, arranged hanging baskets and planters and undertaken extensive business promotion and marketing campaigns for Inverurie in general.

Rediscover Peterhead has introduced a CCTV system to the town centre, hosted seafood festivals and monthly producers markets, as well as improving surfacing, lighting and signage in the town centre.

Working collaboratively with partners, it has also launched the Invest in Peterhead marketing programme which is enjoying considerable success in attracting new commercial investment to Peterhead town centre.

Although BIDs are business-led, a legal partnership has been in operation between the council and the BID companies since 2017.

Chair of the council’s Garioch Area Committee, Cllr Dominic Lonchay, said: “We fully recognise the achievements of We Are INverurie over the past five years and the strength and opportunities it has developed as a company to deliver positive change and improvements for both the levy area and the wider town.

“The BID has proven itself to be strong partner to many local groups and initiatives with a host of very successful projects, events and promotions being clearly evident throughout each of its five years.”

Cllr Norman Smith, chair of the Buchan area committee, added: “During our discussions we heard praise for the very positive activities Rediscover Peterhead has undertaken during its five years to-date and the voice the BID has provided for businesses and traders as it looks to further strengthen the local economy.

“It was also made clear during our debate that both residents and businesses feel there is more work to be done in Peterhead town centre and, ultimately, it will be for the levy payers in any future ballot to decide how those improvements are undertaken.”

Full details of the BID process can be found here: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/support-and-advice/communities/town-centres/business-improvement-districts/