Will businesses finally bite the BID bullet?

Gary Winning, promoting Lanark BID
Gary Winning, promoting Lanark BID

In the week after Lanark heard it was to lose another long established business - Aulds the Bakers - a crunch meeting on the future of the town centre is due to take place.

Lord Cornet Gary Winning, as the manager of the Discover Lanark Project, will be meeting with members of the town’s community council to ‘sell’ the proposal to make the Royal Burgh a Business Investment District (BID).

He said that, if it goes ahead, the Lanark BID could help the town weather the widely-expected economic downturn Brexit will bring.

Gazette readers will be familiar with the difficulties Carluke faced setting up its own BID four years ago but Gary said this week that the Lanark BID will be “tailor-made for this town” and no simple copy of the Carluke or any of the other BID town improvement schemes already in operation around Scotland, some of which “have transformed their local economy.”

It seems one difficulty Carluke ran into has been addressed in a BID Business Plan for the Royal Burgh to be put out to consultation around October.

The basis of any BID scheme is that all businesses in a town or BID ‘zone’ pay into a central ‘pot’ to be spent on improvements which should benefit the whole area.

In Lanark, unlike Carluke, the large supermarkets will pay a share of the levy which will work out at an average of around £300 a year. In Carluke the small shops and businesses resented paying the levy while huge retail giants like Tesco paid nothing

There was also trouble when the Carluke BID levy was imposed on non-profit making community premises such as charity shops.

While the Lanark BID plan would involve levying charity retail premises, the rsupermarket ‘big boys’ will pay a fair share, all levy bills to be calculated on Rateable Values; ie; businesses with a value of between £2,500 and £4,999 will pay the minimum £150 a year levy while those with a value of over half a million pounds would pay £3,500.

Exemptions already written into the plan would be churches and church halls, youth organisation buildings,sports clubs and any foodbanks that might be set up in the future.

Gary said that there will be a vote of all Lanark businesses in February next year to decide whether to adopt a BID scheme or not

Gary added: “If it goes ahead, the Lanark BID could build up a ‘warchest’ of a million pounds over five years.”