In a nutshell, we’re a partnership between businesses and organisations that are based in the centre of Penrith, working together with Eden District Council, Penrith Town Council, Penrith Partnership and other partners to improve trading conditions in the town.
A business improvement district (BID) is a defined area, whose businesses pay an additional amount (or levy) on top of their business rates, which is used to fund projects within the district's boundaries. BIDs can also draw on other public and private funding streams.
BIDs can also provide services, such as cleaning streets, providing security, making capital improvements, enhancing the streetscape and marketing the area – services that are in addition to what the local council provides.
There are more than a hundred business improvement districts (BIDs) in the UK, and Penrith BID was established in April 2013, after a vote among businesses in the BID zone. The outcome of Penrith’s vote was the most positive in the country so far, with businesses giving a resounding thumbs-up to having a business improvement district for the next five years, after which there’ll be the opportunity to vote again.
Penrith BID includes and is funded by the 402 businesses in the defined zone which have a rateable value of more than £3,000. That means local traders and businesses are investing in improving the town, for everyone’s benefit – for themselves, their staff and their customers.
Penrith BID is led by the business community, bringing local businesses together to agree on their priorities for improvements, to make decisions and run projects that will improve the trading environment.
The BID’s work is guided by an enthusiastic board of eight local business people and representatives of Eden District Council.
Find out what we’re doingto improve Penrith.
The idea behind business improvement districts isn’t new. They began in Canada in 1970, and went on to be adopted by many other countries. After many years of success elsewhere, the UK Government decided in 2001 to introduce legislation to create BIDs funded by an additional charge on the business rates, to be agreed together by local businesses and councils.
The Local Government Act 2003 and the Business Improvement Districts (England) Regulations 2004 set out the detailed requirements for BIDs in England.
There are now more than one hundred BIDs across the UK – in town centres, industrial estates, business parks and other zones where businesses saw the need to have one. BIDs can only be created if voted in by the businesses that would be part of it. Once established, BIDs have a mandate to run for five years, after which businesses get to vote again on whether it should continue for another five years. At least thirty BIDs in the UK have already completed for their first five-year programme.
A BID for Penrith
The journey towards a business improvement district for Penrith was initiated by Vitality of Penrith. This partnership, set up in 2008 to encourage businesses and organisations to work together to ensure the sustainability of the town, has now become Penrith Partnership.
A specialist BID canvasser was appointed to help test the appetite for a business improvement district in Penrith, thanks to funding and support from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council and Penrith Chamber of Trade and Commerce. From October 2011 the work was led by a shadow BID board, which was a steering group made up of local business people and representatives of Eden District Council.
There was extensive consultation with businesses and organisations in the town, and the results were used to develop a business plan for the proposed BID, which was finalised in early summer 2012.
On 30 November 2012, 402 business ratepayers in the BID zone had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted a BID for Penrith. A total of 170 businesses took part in the ballot, with a combined rateable value of £5,068,400.
Of those voters, 81 per cent backed the proposals, representing a rateable value of £4,392,900. It was therefore a resounding yes, with well over the required fifty per cent of voters voting yes, and with the yes voters representing more than fifty per cent of the rateable value of those voting.
As a result, the proposal to establish a BID for Penrith was agreed and formally announced on 3 December 2012.
Penrith BID officially came into being on 1 April 2013.
Business Improvement Area