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Words of welcome from the Chairman of the Mansfield BID Steering Group

When you vote “Yes” to creating a Mansfield BID (Business Improvement District) in February next year, you will help unleash a powerful force for positive change, drawn from more than 500 businesses in the centre of Mansfield, fusing together with a common goal:

“To help build Mansfield’s economic prosperity for the future by bringing zest and vitality to its recently witnessed improvement, creating the right environment for all Mansfield businesses to perform better”.

Our goal is to help Mansfield realise its full potential as a traditional market town that already draws an appreciative audience from its residents, surrounding communities and even further afield. All come determined to enjoy it, have fun in it and probably snap a bargain while they are at it!

If the ballot is successful, from the beginning of June 2010, the Mansfield BID will deliver a five-year programme to increase visitors, footfall and spending, delivered through a series of actions designed to make the most of the town’s natural assets and the strength and character of its people. We also hope to be able to save money for all our stakeholders, reducing business costs so that profitability is not compromised; for example a safer, cleaner town will have the dual effect of reducing your business insurance premium whilst making it more desirable to a wider audience of discerning customers.

The new BID Company will be run by Mansfield businesses for Mansfield businesses. It will rely heavily on voluntary support from the sector BUT will be able to afford some executive resource to deliver the BID programme effectively.

It will be the first time a significant budget – more than £1.25M over 5 years – will have been created for us to spend on what really matters to help lift Mansfield town centre and boost business. The contribution has been set at a fair and modest 2% of ratable value, to reflect the relatively low rateable values in the town. For most businesses, the average cost is less than £10 a week and many of the very small ones will pay just £3 a week. The BID company will build on those funds by leveraging in contributions and securing support from other sources wherever possible. Already we have pledges that additional income will be forthcoming from sources other than the levy – including voluntary payments from landlords and managing agents.

We will be working closely with the public sector service providers to ensure they are totally accountable for the services they deliver. We will seek to drive up their performance across the town centre and push for a guarantee that this standard will then be sustained for the next five years. We know that they want to work more closely with us and that together we will be a powerful force in lobbying for positive change – with every element of our plans designed to resolve issues raised by you. Imagine too, the influence 500 business names will have when seeking grant assistance for particular projects or lobbying for action from councils keen to see inward investment and new jobs.

We want the town to be more pedestrian friendly, cleaner and more appealing to a broader spectrum of visitors, drawing footfall to quality streets, quality shops and the best market in North Nottinghamshire.

So, if you are proud of Mansfield and want it to grow then vote ‘Yes’ for the creation of a Mansfield BID! Voting papers will be delivered to your businesses in early February 2010 ready for you to vote by the 11th March, with the result announced at the following day. Then into action!

Please find a little time now to read and understand what the BID is all about and how it is going to change your business life forever, a small investment in time now for major financial gains in the future!

John Sankey MBE

Basic BID principles

Following the pattern first established in the UK in 2002 with the launch of the research programme into setting up BIDs in the UK, a local steering group of interested businesses is formed to examine the fundamental issues that are causing business decline and failure. A tentative boundary is suggested and research commenced to explore more deeply the issues that have surfaced initially. A wider consultation exercise and further development then ensues to determine what sort of improvements businesses would like to see and would be prepared to contribute towards. Gradually the actions required become sufficiently refined for them to be priced up and the total cost shared across all the businesses in the BID area, spread across five years, the typical ‘life’ of a BID. This allows the percentage levy to be calculated, usually between 1 and 2% although the legislation allows up to 5% to be raised this way. Obviously, other additional forms of funding can be used to offset the total bill, where they are available.

With sufficient data to hand, the BID steering group can then call for a secret ballot, inviting the businesses that are liable for the levy to vote for or against their proposal. For the BID to go ahead, two voting ‘hurdles’ must be passed:

1. Over 50% of businesses that vote must be in favour
2. Of those businesses voting, the aggregate of the Rateable Values (RVs) of those voting yes must be greater than that of those recording a no

If both these conditions are fulfilled, payment of the levy becomes mandatory for ALL eligible businesses regardless of how they voted (as the vote takes place in February/March 2010, the Rateable Values used for the aggregate calculation will be based on those in force at that time, ie the 2005 values. New RVs will be applied from April 2010 for accounting purposes – see later).

After five years, each BID is obliged to seek a reballot if it wishes to continue for a further term. Patently, if the BID organisation has not delivered what it has promised, the businesses will simply vote against it continuing, and it will stop. So, the BID starts only if a majority of businesses vote in its favour and will only continue if it proves that it can achieve its aims as promised.

The success of BIDs so far
Growing evidence suggests that BID schemes are good news for city and town centres. In the last five years 97 (as at the end of November 2009) have already been set up in all manner of locations, including industrial parks. Examples of where they can be found include:

Nottingham (a leisure focused BID)
Derby Cathedral Quarter
Lincoln
Sleaford
Boston
Bedford
Bury St Edmunds
Rugby
Coventry
Liverpool
Bristol
Birmingham (four in very different formats)
London (20 to date and two more planned)

There is hard, well-documented testimony that they are making positive differences to their businesses, generating increased footfall, higher spending and cleaner, safer and more vibrant centres. Indeed, nine of the earliest schemes (Plymouth, Kingston, Heart of London, Coventry, Bristol, the New West-End Company, Liverpool, Lincoln and Broad Street Birmingham) have conducted renewal ballots to launch into a second term and virtually all have seen increased turn-out and a greater majority in favour of them continuing.

Why Mansfield needs a BID
The town’s businesses are under pressure as economic uncertainty continues to grip the country. We are also faced also with increasing competition from neighbours such as Meadowhall, McArthur Glen, Nottingham, Derby and Chesterfield, not to mention the myriad of supermarkets that surround us, selling virtually everything we do. Individually they are working hard to get their act together and see our customers as a very attractive source of income. The Internet also continues to tease sales from high street shops all over the country and despite a reasonably steady influx of customers into Mansfield, spending generally is declining as recession bites hard into disposable income.

Shoppers here complain about empty shops, a poorer market, parking charges and the shortage of spaces on busier days. Insensitive parking hampers deliveries and blocks access to those all-important on-street parking spaces that enable people to slip in and out of town easily. Once they have parking problems , most people don’t bother trying again. Theft, violence and intimidation are constant challenges too, with anti-social behaviour and drug abuse high in people’s perceptions, especially in the evening.

Individually we are powerless to resolve these and other problems but by working closer together and co-operating we can promote Mansfield to residents and to a wider audience as an attractive place to live, work, shop, relax and do business in successfully.

There are many facets to what the town has to offer and they all need linking together more effectively through well-branded and attractive signage and marketing. Car parking too needs to be improved along with payment methods to encourage longer stays at a lower cost.

To compete with neighbouring shopping centres, Mansfield’s main focus, the Four Seasons Centre requires substantial investment and remodelling to do justice to the current strong selection of national retailers that trade in it. The peripheral streets should be more pedestrian-friendly encouraging a café society culture with consistent street entertainment, events and even better floral displays than the excellent examples currently provided by the District Council.

However, it is Mansfield’s primary draw, its historic and diversified market, that comes in for most criticism with many of the people we surveyed decrying its reduced frontage and declining stall numbers, its lack of prominence, signposting and general uncared for appearance. Similarly we have lots of specialist shops but their frontages and service still fall short of some people’s expectation. Combine these facts with the growing number of empty units and the problems begin to look insurmountable, pushing the town into a spiral of decline and decay. True, our Council has done much to prevent this and has invested time, money and energy into reversing the trend that started when the local mines disappeared, but other pressing priorities across the district and a reticence for closer co-operation by some elements of the private sector has made the fight an uphill struggle.

Mansfield needs a new direction and drive to face up to and beat its competition. It is clear that through the BID, Mansfield has a great opportunity to capitalise on its wonderful assets and provide solutions to the challenges identified from our comprehensive research.

In the midst of recession, it might seem to be an inappropriate time to seek additional money from businesses, but the economic climate means that it is now even more important that we work together to promote Mansfield. If nothing is done, there is a real risk that most of us will lose out to competing town centres which have found the cash and are making strenuous efforts to appeal to our regular customers as well as their own. The loss of just a handful more specialist businesses that are already only marginally profitable now could be enough to tip the balance and propel the town into terminal decline, with a greater consequence on the local employment base and the well-being of families throughout the district.

Checks and balances

The BID is designed to identify then deliver additional services, topping up existing provision or generating something totally new. It does not replace statutory activities or services already carried out by the local authorities and other agencies.

The BID Company has examined all relevant current services provided by the statutory authorities and has baselined them, recording the detail so that it can be referred to in the future to check that all activities are sustained at the existing (or better) level. The very act of examining them regularly in their own right will have a powerful effect on those providing them, helping us all to get even better value for money for the Uniform Business Rates that we all pay. The BID legislation puts an onus on the local authority and other statutory providers to sign up to a service level agreement covering all aspects assessed for BID purposes to try and ensure that existing basic service standards will be maintained at the current levels for the full five years of the BID’s duration.

Mansfield District Council (MDC), Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottinghamshire Police have supplied baseline information. The following activity areas have been scrutinised:

Town Centre Services: Staffing
Streetforce (including cleaning/ enviro-crime/ water feature
& events)
Shopmobility
Public conveniences
Bus Station Rangers
Rail Station Rangers
Car parks
Markets
Community Safety: CCTV (for the main town centre and car parks)
Town Centre Management: Town Centre Management
Town Centre Events and Promotions
Mansfield Safer Business Partnership
Operations: Highway Maintenance* (* = on behalf of NCC)
Street lighting*
Gully Emptying*
Trees & Landscaping/ Grounds Maintenance*
Street Care and Graffiti removal
Trade waste
Christmas Lights
Policing

A Business Improvement District (BID) scheme is a business led initiative supported by government legislation which gives local businesses the power to ‘raise funds locally to be spent locally’ on improving their trading environment. So, our BID is not a new kind of tax. Every penny that is collected (apart from the fee for doing so) is returned to the BID Board so that it can be spent on activities you want to see in town. It is better to view it as a small, individual investment in the future of the town, pooled with everyone else’s contribution to make a sustainable fund to tackle the problems and challenges we all know need urgent attention.

The Mansfield BID programme
We will seek to make a REAL and tangible difference by:

  • Saving you money by reducing your business operating costs. For instance a group business insurance scheme found in some other BIDs reduces some individual premiums by more than the actual BID levy contribution made
  • Marketing and promoting Mansfield to encourage more visitors and residents to come and spend more money in our market, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs
  • Improving maps, signage, information, and interpretive panels explaining our history, heritage and environment to ensure that visitors see all that Mansfield has to offer
  • Encouraging longer stays and improving access
  • Supporting the development of a more substantial and extensive events, activities, entertainments and festivals programme to encourage people into the centre
    Lobbying the councils, government and service providers to ensure Mansfield’s businesses get what they deserve and that we make the most of every opportunity that comes our way
  • Bringing more funding to Mansfield by ensuring we capitalise on grant opportunities
    Using the BID scheme to improve co-operation and communication between Mansfield’s businesses for the collective common good and to rebuild civic pride
Our planned projects:

Here are the principal activities that your BID Company aspires to deliver over the next five years, commencing in June next year, provided a ‘yes’ vote is forthcoming:

IT’S CLEAN, REALLY CLEAN! Total additional spend over five years: £321,000

Our main streets are kept fairly clean thanks to the efforts of Mansfield District Council. However, we all know standards could be higher with greater attention to detail so that a uniform high level of cleanliness becomes the norm. We will tackle this by employing fully trained, commercially motivated and high profile staff to offer a totally different approach to core cleaning – constant care and attention to detail:

  • Rangers constantly monitoring existing statutory provision and prompting/delivering remedial action as required against reworked and renewed cleansing schedules
  • Frequent removal of chewing gum
  • A regular hot cleaning service for shop-fronts, doorways and entrances, if requested
  • High-pressure hot washing of grot spots, graffiti and flyposting
  • Better, more frequent regular cleaning with greater attention to detail
  • Re-organising and improving the efficiency of trade-waste disposal, including more recycling
  • Routine, quality maintenance of empty commercial properties to improve saleability

EASY ACCESS ALL ROUND Total additional spend over five years: £170,000

Many shoppers, employees and visitors complain that parking is difficult and too expensive (long-term parking for staff being a particular problem). Abuse of on-street parking causes inconvenience, delivery problems and creates danger for pedestrians. We want to see more parking spaces at a realistic cost. We propose to do this by working with MDC and other providers, for example by:

  • Addressing the issue of public and privately run car park charges and their management
  • Installing real time electronic signage for selected local car parks
  • Working with the Police, wardens and NSL to address inappropriate parking whilst encouraging the Highway Authority to install more short-stay, convenience parking at zero or low cost.
  • Consider with retailers a ‘shop and refund’ scheme
  • Set up and operate a local, eco-friendly delivery service
  • Assessing then reworking some of the local directional signs
  • Refreshing and distributing the local parking map, shopping guides and information leaflets

SAFE & SECURE Total additional spend over five years: £346,000

We already have comprehensive CCTV and a network of security staff. However, pressure on policing keeps a regular uniformed presence to a minimum. We want to improve security so that our businesses lose less through crime and our local environment is safer for businesses, employees, customers and the general public. We propose to select from the following options:

  • Employ our Rangers to act as the ‘eyes and ears’ for businesses, helping to reduce crime and assisting everyone to get the most out of our security network
  • Ensure that the basic policing requirement is being constantly and adequately met and that it synchronises on a regular basis with our own Ranger team
  • Employ the business crime co-ordinator within the BID to focus specifically on retail and evening-economy problems, extending the exclusion order scheme, administered through a powerful, regularly updated database
  • Ensure we have adequate uniformed police officer patrols covering the full trading day
  • Establish a ‘Child=Safe’ zone to make Mansfield a more family-friendly shopping destination
  • Organise a strategic marketing campaign that focuses on a safer Mansfield, including a dedicated educationally-based drive to reduce shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and drug abuse
  • Install more, independent, digital, wireless CCTV cameras to cover areas not under current surveillance

APPEALING MANSFIELD Total additional spend over five years: £210,000

We want Mansfield to be a ‘special place’ that local residents instinctively prefer for their everyday purchases as well as for specialist services and a better outdoor food and drink experience. We know too, the town could have immense attraction to people from further afield. Some of the activities we are considering to give a quality local experience include:

  • Improving the number of active stallholders to raise the variety and choice from the regular local markets with more frequent farmers’ stalls, speciality markets, continental foods etc, all done in conjunction with the existing market traders
  • More planting, hanging baskets with quality plants and flowers widespread across the town
  • Creating and delivering an all year round decorative, ‘mood’ lighting scheme for the town centre while sustaining and building on the current Christmas decoration arrangement
  • Introducing more public art and events, including regular street performers and live music
  • Installing ‘gateway’ branding and information (especially at the proposed new transport interchange), making the most of BID branding around the town

INVEST IN MANSFIELD Total additional spend over five years: £200,000

There is much to tackle in this aspect of the Mansfield business plan too, all designed to raise the quality and influence of the commercial scene so that it appeals to more people, as well as save you money:

  • Create a unique ‘Mansfield welcomes you’ customer service standard, raising the overall ‘trading format’ and image through training where necessary
  • Synchronise then promote consistent shop operating hours across the full trading week, with a regular late-night evening
  • Run a hard-hitting campaign to attract new investors, especially retailers into the empty units
  • Generate a ‘development’ fund to enable grants to businesses to help them improve and grow
  • This could cover elements such as shop front enhancement or internal fittings, new IT support kit or display training
  • Build in Key Performance Indicators and business/ footfall monitoring to help understand how Mansfield is performing against its competitors and how well the BID is delivering against its promised agenda
  • Operate the Business Consultation Scheme to aid businesses with issues such as business rates and rents

MARKETING MANSFIELD Total additional spend over five years: £210,000

We intend to promote Mansfield and its businesses through various media, including the Internet. We want to help local businesses to benefit from collective cheaper advertising and promotion at advantageous rates. We will attract inward investment too by working with key property owners, MDC and EMDA. We propose to bring more customers and more investment into Mansfield by:

  • Working with local organisations to develop and extend a bespoke programme of special, leisure and entertainment events around the BID area, with our own cultural festival for local communities
  • Sustaining the ‘shop local’ campaign to encourage residents and businesses to spend in the town centre
  • Enhancing Mansfield information at key gateway locations to inform all travellers arriving in the town
  • Liaising with the media (newspapers, magazines and radio) to promote Mansfield businesses and Mansfield activities to a wider, regional or national audience
  • Developing a co-ordinated marketing strategy using generic branding that can be made available to all Mansfield businesses within the BID area, with advertising at advantageous, discounted rates
  • Creating a strong, online presence for virtual Mansfield with a website that offers discounts to regular viewers
Outline Income & Expenditure Table

Click the graph to enlarge it.

The background research

With your help and participation the actions outlined earlier have been built up over the last eleven months, following the initial feasibility study conducted in 2008 as part of the East Midlands BID Academy. Your views have been sought on what Mansfield needs and how the BID could help through a number of formal consultation processes including:

March 2009
A substantial business survey was distributed to all trading organisations across Mansfield. Some 600 were handed out and 132 completed forms collected and collated into a comprehensive report that detailed many of the functions of local companies and highlighted their current obstacles to more successful operation. Detailed ideas to include in the BID business plan were offered in abundance.

April 2009
A four-page questionnaire was prepared and 250 on-street users of Mansfield town centre were invited to complete it. Again the collated results provided a useful insight into the thinking of the many people who visit the town to work, shop or spend leisure time here. It became immediately obvious that there is significant shortfall in the expectations of our customers and what the town actually delivers.

April 2009
The consultants brought in to help set up a BID here prepared an initial newsletter. This was distributed to all businesses in the town and it invited them to attend a BID workshop to discuss the results from the two sets of surveys and to hear about the basics of BIDs

April and May 2009
Various meetings were held with key personalities who trade in the town as well as three presentations to several of the local councillors from MDC.

Eventually more than 100 business managers and representatives participated in the debate, with the numbers of individuals expressing interest in a BID growing steadily when exposed to the mechanism.

Collectively they put forward some very interesting project ideas. Several of their number were sufficiently enthused about the process to agree to form a Mansfield BID Steering Group, the constituents of which are given later.

June 2009
The Steering Group began to meet on a regular basis, shaping up the identity of the BID, its branding and its core messages. Four of them made a day trip to Rugby to see a BID organisation in action. Rugby was one of the very first towns to adopt the concept and it has produced some excellent results in the first five years of its existence. Inevitably the four returned full of praise for what they had witnessed and even more determined to see the same experience repeated here.

July 2009
A second newsletter was issued announcing the members of the steering group, the outcome of the Rugby visit and the intention to hold further consultations for all businesses in the coming month.

A dedicated website was launched in the same month with all current publications available for downloading as pdfs. Its URL is: www.Mansfieldbid.com

August 2009
A ‘How would you spend it?’ exhibition was held within the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, courtesy of its management team. More than 40 businesses attended over the three different days, providing lively discussion and debate as the project priorities were identified for potential inclusion in the BID programme. A full-colour booklet called “The Mansfield BID – your questions answered” was published prior to the exhibition and it was also circulated to every business trading within the BID boundary, as defined by the Steering Group. Again this publication is available via the website.

Otober 2009
The District Council’s Select Commission Two spent some time and effort assessing this draft business plan and made a number of recommendations that have strengthened the business case for the BID, including the provision of details of the current service level requirements demanded of the local authority. A request from two or three of the bigger national businesses to have more time and the chance to input into the plan caused the Steering Group to elect to move the vote for the BID into early 2010. This also allowed the BID to avoid potential difficulties arising from rounds of postal strikes.

It is right to acknowledge at this juncture the excellent support and co-operation the BID consultants and the Steering Group have enjoyed from MDC. They have made it very plain, via their elected Mayor and senior cabinet members, that they fully endorse the BID process and will seek ways in which they and the new BID Company, once it is fully functioning, can work together to further enrich the unique partnership process that the BID embodies.

January 2010

Building up to the vote itself, a BID Prospectus will be launched in early January with the Steering Group members and other BID Champions engaging directly with a further businesses across the BID boundary, concentrating particularly on the ‘at a distance’ voters who represent the larger, national multiples that trade in the town.

Consultations have also taken place with local members of the Federation of Small Businesses, with businesses drawn together to discuss the subject by the Mansfield Chamber of Trade, by face to face meetings and by telephone with individual ratepayers including business leaders at the headquarters of multi-nationals, with the County Council and with Town Centre Partnership members.

Explicit charts from the initial surveys undertaken can be found in Appendix One.

The BID Steering Group
Business representatives who have helped develop this final proposal include the following:

John Sankey MBE John Sankey Estate Agent
Rebekah O’Neill Four Seasons Shopping Centre Manager
Paul Anderton Co-owner, And Why Not bar and bistro
Diana Hobson Mansfield Town Centre Manager
Barry Hibbert Manager of the Rosemary Centre
John Henshaw Local landlord and owner of the Bedrooms & Kitchens by Henshaw
Tracy Powell The Editor of the Chad newspaper
Tracey Hollingworth Owner of the Ace Pets Supplies, Handley Arcade
Jane Fletcher Director, Keith Hall Hairdressing
Rachel French Owner of the Ten Green Bottles café bar
Vijay Chadda Owner of Collections of Regent Street
The future management of the BID Company and its activities
In October 2009, a new not-for-profit limited company called The Mansfield BID Company was established, under the initial directorship of BID chairman John Sankey. The Steering Group will continue to support the development of the BID as it moves towards the ballot that will give the necessary mandate to start operating. With their agreement, after the vote they will remain in place as the interim Board of the BID Company to help it through its transition to an action delivery vehicle. Once it is functioning smoothly, you will have the opportunity as stakeholders in the Company to vote for your chosen chairman and directors and indeed, stand for election if you so wish. An election will be held in October 2010 where voters will have the opportunity to nominate a third of the Board constituents. Subsequently, a third of the Board will retire each year in rotation and be replaced by other candidates, although it will be possible for a retiring director to seek re-election.

A minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 directors will be appointed to serve on the Board. It will always have a private sector chairperson. The directors will be drawn from the various sectors of the BID businesses, with the following representation:

A position on the Board is voluntary and unpaid, with individuals expected to give their time and expertise to the cause of improving Mansfield as a trading destination. The Board is expected to meet at least quarterly with working groups coming together in between these meetings to progress actions.

Every year, an AGM will be held where the Company will report back on what has been delivered through the BID and share with you their proposals for the following year’s programme for your comment. Key Performance Indicators for every action project and also for the BID business and Mansfield itself will be monitored on a regular basis and assessed by an independent, external auditor twice a year, with direct reporting to the levypayers rather than to the BID Board (See Appendix four for the detail of the KPI regime that will be set up).

Staff will be taken on to run the business (probably a BID Operations Director and administrative support) but the bulk of the work will be done by the Board who will establish volunteer working groups of business people to develop, advise and support the delivery of each aspect of the programme. These volunteers will be busy, successful business people whose time will be limited, but with careful management and direction their total commitment will be held to a few days a year but totally dedicated to achieving positive results under each action area heading. The Company will be mindful of finite resources and the need to direct as much of the income as possible into core projects.

Much the Mansfield BID programme requires good marketing and management skills and will be time intensive. We will also require the support of an individual who has considerable experience in seeking out public sector grant funding to enable us to match the substantial private sector contribution the BID can make to key projects. Match-funding on a pound for pound basis can hugely influence the money we have to spend while at the same time increasing enormously via leverage the impact of the end result of each project.

In addition, we are grateful to MDC for agreeing to fund the office overheads of the new BID team once it is established. The Council will also be paying the BID levy on property it owns within the BID boundary, adding approximately £16,000 a year to the Company’s income. In total the estimated Council contribution to the BID Company could be worth at least £20,000 a year for every one of the next five years.

Governance:
The BID area, the BID levy percentage and the number of businesses called upon to pay the levy cannot be altered without an Alteration Ballot, in essence a re-run of the balloting process that creates the mandate for the operation of the BID in the first place. The budget headings and project costs of the Business Plan can be adjusted within the constraints of the revenue received through the levy by the BID Board, provided the overall essence of the Plan remains. Minor variations in the delivery of the Plan will be handled by the operational staff and reported routinely to the Board. More substantial changes will always be debated and ratified by the Board. Major deviations must be presented to the full membership of the Company and ratified by an Alternation Ballot, conducted in the same way as the earlier Ballot.

If there are substantial issues arising from the management of the BID process or stakeholders feel that the Board is failing to deliver the prescribed activities in this business plan then it would be appropriate for the concerned stakeholders to make the Chairman of the Board aware of their concerns. A written statement, again addressed to the Chairman, should follow up any verbal complaints, accompanied by substantial evidence of the problem(s) outlined. If there is no obvious, timely, satisfactory resolution to the matter then, on receipt of a second letter signed by more than 25% of the stakeholders paying the levy, the Chairman will arrange a formal ballot of all stakeholders to either ratify the change(s) from the announced programme or call for the cessation of the BID operation. Appeals can be made to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; the detailed legislation governing the formation and operation of Business Improvement Districts explains the process in depth and can be downloaded from the Department’s website.

How will I know the BID is doing what it supposed to?

Hopefully you will witness an upturn in business and a renewed optimism amongst everyone trading in Mansfield. However, in the current economic climate, ‘steady state’ rather than gradual decline could be viewed as success.Certainly you will see physical improvements such as new local signage and interpretation, more market stalls, empty shops being filled and more events rolled through the year. As indicated earlier, we intend to apply a very tangible Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for every project initiated. We will also seek out trader feedback and takings data, footfall counts, user satisfaction surveys and an annual survey of a sample of BID levy payers to gauge opinion about the efficacy of the BID. You will be supplied with regular newsletters, email updates and fliers to keep you in the picture and of course our website will be a constant source of information on the progress of the town and the BID.What is the BID going to cost me and how much will be raised in total?

If the BID scheme is approved at the close of ballot on the 11th March 2010, a 2% levy applied to 505 businesses in the boundary will raise approximately £250,000 annually for the five-year period of the BID. There will be an automatic 2% increase in the levy each year to allow for inflation. Our budget and the linked levy collection are based on the new Rateable Values set by the National Ratings Valuation Office for the next five years that come into force in April next year. The first request for levy payment will be issued in April 2010 with the money due as a single, annual instalment although we are considering setting up facilities to allow more frequent, smaller payments.The lowest contribution will be a £150 per year ‘joining fee’ that will be applied to all businesses with a rateable value below £7,500 pa. Businesses trading within the confines of the Four Seasons Shopping Centre will pay at a discounted rate of 1% of the applicable RV as they already pay substantial service charges to their managing agents for some of the services we intend to provide.Here are some typical contribution levels, assuming a levy rate of 2%:

Rateable Value Cost annually £ Cost monthly £
200,000 4,000 333
100,000 2,000 167
50,000 1,000 83
25,000 500 42
10,000 200 17
Under 7,500 150 12

This table demonstrates that many of our smaller businesses will be paying just £2.88 a week to gain all the benefits hinted at in this business plan.

Under the BID legislation, the levy will be collected by Mansfield District Council and then transferred to Mansfield BID under a formal ‘operating agreement’ signed by both parties. There may be a small charge for this process. In essence, the BID levy will be a daily charge on each business inside the BID boundary. Liability for each daily BID levy will fall on the occupier of the hereditament on that particular day. Properties that brought into the rating list during the BID term will be subject to the BID levy from the effective date that the property is included in the Local Authority listing. If a hereditament is unoccupied or becomes unoccupied, the liability for the daily BID levy will fall on the organisation or person entitled to possession on the particular day. For this purpose ‘entitled to possession’ shall have the same meaning as under s65 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The ratepayer will be liable to pay the BID levy on an empty property without a void period or any empty allowance. If there is no Uniform Business Rate payer in existence on a particular day then no BID Levy is payable.

How has the BID been developed and funded to date?
As well as generating the grant from EMDA (via the sub-regional strategic partnership) and the County Council, Mansfield District Council has supported the development of this BID through staff time and a budget to cover costs, such as the marketing of this final proposal and the running of the ballot. These costs are non-recoverable except if the turnout to vote by businesses is less than 20% of the total electorate, when the costs will be met by those sponsoring the BID may be expected to pay the cost of the postal vote.
What is the BID’s boundary?
This illustrated map at the end of this document in Appendix four defines the boundary. Overall, the following streets are included with premises on both sides of each street unless otherwise stated:

Albert Street Queen Street
Belvedere Street (one side) Queen’s Walk
Bridge Street Regent Street
Church Side Rock Valley (part)
Church Street The Rosemary Centre
Clerkson Street Rosemary Street (one side)
Clumber Street St John Street
Dame Flogan Street St Peters Way (one side)
Exchange Row St Peters Retail Park
Four Seasons Centre Station Street
Handley Arcade Station Road
Leeming Street Stockwell Gate
Market House Place Toothill Lane
Market Place Toothill Road
Market Street Union Street
Midworth Street Walkden Street
Old Market Place West Gate
Portland Street (part) White Hart Street
Quaker Way

For some streets on the margins of the BID boundary, only selected properties will be included within the defined area, for instance on the ‘town-side’ of the ring road.
All businesses will have a vote and all will be compelled by the BID legislation to contribute to the costs via the agreed levy, assuming a positive vote is forthcoming. If you are unsure whether your business falls within the boundary or want to know how much you will pay, please contact a member of the BID steering group for advice.

About the Mansfield postal ballot and how it will work

Each business ratepayer will have a vote provided they are listed on the National Non Domestic Ratings List on the day the notice of ballot is given by Mansfield District Council, and trade within the BID boundary, as defined on the map in this document. Some organisations occupying more than one premises will have more than one vote and it is important for them to return each form separately.

In February 2010, the person with the authority to vote in your organisation will receive a ballot pack from the Electoral Reform Services, the organisation that will independently conduct the ballot. All votes must be returned by 5pm on Thursday 11th March 2010 to count. Any not received by that time and date will automatically be discounted. Similarly any ballot paper which is not signed or unmarked or is otherwise considered void due to uncertainty will not be counted.

The ballot form will simply ask the question:”Are you in favour of the Business Improvement District proposal from the Mansfield BID Company for the following streets”? (a list of the streets involved then follows). You are required to complete the form by placing a cross in either a ‘YES’ or a ‘NO’ box. Only the person previously identified as the Uniform Business Rate Payer can complete and return the form in the pre-addressed postage-paid envelope, after signing it.

If the ratepayer or their proxy, if one has been appointed, do not receive a ballot paper by Friday 5th March, he or she can apply to The Electoral Reform Society for a replacement, provided physical evidence as to identity is offered. Similarly if the ballot paper is spoilt for any reason then it may be returned to the Electoral Reform Society by the same date for a replacement.

All returned and valid ballot papers will be counted and the result declared by Friday 12th March 2010. It will be published on the District Council’s web site shortly afterwards – www.mansfield. gov.uk and on the BID Company’s website www.mansfieldbid.com from the same date.

For the BID to go ahead, two conditions must be met:

1) More than 50% of businesses that vote must vote in favour

2) Of the ‘yes’ votes, they must represent more than 50% of the total ratable value of all votes cast

Under the legislation, if these conditions are fulfilled, payment of the 2% levy each year for five years until 2014 becomes mandatory for all eligible businesses, regardless of how they voted, unless they trade within the confines of the Four Seasons Shopping Centre where a discounted levy rate applies (see earlier).

A ‘yes’ vote for Mansfield will mean that the additional activities promised will start happening on the ground from the 1st June 2010 with sustained funding to deliver a comprehensive programme of benefits for the full five years available from that date.

BID levy arrangements and management of the finances

The Mansfield BID Company will ask Mansfield District to raise an annual charge for the levy, applying very limited exemptions to very few local businesses. This will be controlled via a legally-binding Operating Agreement which compels the Council to hand over all the money collected apart from any fee to cover the cost of the collection and enforcement process. Under the same agreement, Mansfield BID will provide Mansfield District Council with regular updates detailing expenditure under the BID and the cash flow. Naturally this information will also be shared with the businesses paying the levy.

Generally, exemptions, relief or discounts prescribed in the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989 made under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, will not apply. Those responsible for unoccupied and part-occupied rateable properties, and BID levy payers who are charities or non profit-making organisations, will be liable for the full BID levy. Only charities in receipt of 100% relief or operating a ‘head office’ or voluntary, non-profit making advice service can apply to the Mansfield BID Board requesting an exemption. Schools and colleges providing a local educational service will also be exempt from the levy.

The BID levy will not be affected by the small business rate relief scheme. Where a property is vacant, undergoing refurbishment or being demolished, the property owner will be entitled to vote and also be obliged to pay the levy with no void period. Collection of the BID levy carries the same enforcement weight as collection of the non-domestic rates. On the odd occasion that a refunds might due because of the cessation of trading or a settlement of a revaluation appeal, payment will only be made if there is more than six months levy money to be claimed back AND if the “continuity” bill for the outstanding levy on that property has been served and payment has been received or offered.

A 2% levy (with 2% for inflation applied each 1st March from year two onwards) will be charged to each qualifying ratepayer using the non-domestic ratings list as set at the 1st April 2010 to calculate the amount payable for the bill. Subsequent years will use the same 2010 RV tables plus the inflationary element as announced above. The first BID levy due will be payable for a 12 month period (calculated on a daily basis) in one lump sum from 1st April 2010. The levy will then be due each year with the last payment due on 1st April 2014. The BID programme will finish on 31st March 2015. When the ratings list on which charges are based is updated for any changes in ratepayer, appeals, additions or removals, the levy liability will be adjusted accordingly and a small contingency fund will be held within the BID accounts to accommodate any adjustments. It may be possible for smaller payments to be made by regular standing order.

The BID levy will have to be paid by any new ratepayer occupying an existing ratable property within the BID area up until the end of the five year term on 31st March 2015 even though they did not vote on the initial proposal. Likewise, any new rateable property created during the lifetime of the BID will be obliged to pay the levy for the remaining period of the BID.

The Mansfield BID Company will endeavour to secure additional voluntary contributions to supplement the levy throughout the five-year lifetime of the BID. However, these contributions cannot be guaranteed and may be less than or more than the indicative amounts given in the budget table provided.

So why should I vote ‘YES’ and will it really make a difference?
There should be no hesitation about voting ‘Yes’ if:

  • You want to see a greater return on your investment having given your precious time, energy and money to Mansfield already
  • You are proud of Mansfield and want to make it a better place to live, work and spend time
  • You want to seize the opportunity of creating a private sector-led company that is accountable to Mansfield businesses and will have a fund of at least one and a quarter million pounds to invest from now until 2015
  • You want to ensure that Mansfield receives the highest quality and best value for money from our various public services
  • You believe a real difference can be made by combining our strengths and working together to develop our town for future generations
  • You want to have a say in the way in which the area develops in the coming years
    You want to see existing partnerships streamlined and focused to facilitate the development and direction of the town
  • Patently investing more than £250,000 of new money a year into the town has to make a substantial difference to the fortunes of town centre businesses collectively, and this must appeal, especially if it typically only costs you £10 a week to do it.

…. and what if I vote ‘no’?

In the current economic climate, no-one would blame you for considering the ‘no’ option. However, it’s even more important to invest a little now to try and buck the national downward trend. With UK retail sales values shrinking by 4.6% in the last year alone, Mansfield needs to figure strongly in the minds of local people if it is to survive. Mansfield businesses are far more powerful when working in unison rather than working individually. Together we can make this happen.

If you vote ‘no’, say goodbye to the opportunity to raise £1,250,000 of new investment for the benefit of all businesses in Mansfield. Improvements such as new marketing initiatives and events designed to increase footfall simply will not happen unless we seize the moment to take control of the town’s commercial destiny. Existing agencies will continue to run Mansfield for you but alone you will not have a strong voice to make a difference or even air your concerns effectively. These agencies are also under fiscal pressure and it will be increasingly hard for them to deliver everything they do now, never mind the extras we all know we need.

Simply consider how many sales or additional customers it would take to recoup the small amount of money most businesses will pay as their levy each week. Try and think of what else you can do to make the sort of difference we have planned and outlined here. The options are very limited and so is time.

A vote “yes” now will cost us all very little but the impact over five years could be enormous….and if it doesn’t work we can switch it off more easily than starting it. The choice is yours.

For more general information on the national BIDs picture, click on:

www.britishbids.co.uk

www.ukbids.org

www.retailbids.org.uk

Appendix one Additional graphical information from the BID research programme
Two charts taken from the on-street market research:

Two charts taken from the Business Research undertaken:

Appendix two: The BID development and delivery timetable:
5th January 2010 – MDC to give formal approval of the BID via the Portfolio Holder14th January 2010 – Mansfield BID prospectus launched21st January 2010 – Last day to publish Notice of Ballot11th February 2010 – Ballot papers issued

11th March 2010 – the Day of the Ballot

12th March 2010 – Voting result announced

6th April 2010 – The BID Company commences trading

April 2010 – Levy demands sent to all legible businesses for the first year of the BID

1st June 2010 – New services commence

October 2010 – The first Extraordinary General Meeting of the BID Company

Appendix three: Our expected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Table of activities, timescales, related outputs and an appropriate KPI measurement:

Click the table to enlarge it.

Appendix four: The Mansfield BID boundary map:
Click the image to enlarge it.

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