16 March 2022

Councillors support continuation of business improvement districts

Councillors have agreed to support the continuation of the ‘We Are INverurie’ and ‘Rediscover Peterhead’ business improvement districts (BID) as they look to achieve another five-year term.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee unanimously agreed to the process when it met on Thursday, March 10 which paves the way for the two BIDs to progress to ballot on June 23 for We Are INverurie and September 29 for Rediscover Peterhead.

The committee considered comments from both the Garioch and Buchan area committees on the BIDs’ work and agreed it was in the interests of both towns to continue to the ballot stage.

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.

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

Aberdeenshire Council has specific duties including the provision of business occupiers, owners and ratings data, the collection of the BID levy, responsibility for the required ballot, the establishment of a ringfenced BID Revenue Account and the preparation and commitment to deliver an agreed level of baseline services within each BID area.

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.

Christine Webster, Regeneration & Town Centres Manager with Aberdeenshire Council, told councillors: “There are many challenges and opportunities yet to face in the development of our town centres, not least of which include increased digitalisation of services and how our towns function in a net-zero economy.

“The next decade will be a journey like no other for our business and our communities and success will be defined by the strength of these teams, collaborations and successful partnerships that work together to mitigate problems and seize these opportunities. The BIDs are an integral part of that opportunity in our two largest towns.”

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/