What does the BID actually do?
A lot, actually. Apart from the visible, obvious things such as the Christmas lights and street wardens, in the last year alone, the BID has sent fortnightly updates to all businesses, held two photography competitions, posted daily updates on social media, organised street entertainments, produced a travel map, responded to planning applications, repaired, replaced and maintained the planter boxes, held regular walkabouts with Kier (the Council’s Highways maintenance contractor), forged stronger working links with the Police, the Job Centre, Birmingham City Council, other BIDs across the city, Kings Heath Business Association, and many other partners, supported local university students with projects related to the high street, met with disabled and older people’s groups to discuss accessibility issues, supported volunteer groups such as the litter pickers, offered Covid-related support to the business community, promoted third-party events and submitted a comprehensive response to the Council’s LTN consultation.
Why didn’t the BID stop the LTN?
Simply put, it’s not in our gift to do that. The BID has always maintained its neutrality towards the LTN, given the wide range of views amongst the business community, but it has signposted businesses, secured business-only consultation events and challenged the Council to ensure that problems with the scheme will be considered and dealt with. We also submitted the most comprehensive response to the consultation of any stakeholder in the Kings Heath area.
Aren’t the Board just interested in serving their own motives?
What would they be? To improve their businesses and the quality of the Kings Heath business community as a whole? If so, what’s wrong with that? Any business can get involved with the BID, can put themselves forwards to sit on the Board and, as such, will have a more central role in determining the BID’s direction. There is no business represented on the Board that wants to see any business in Kings Heath fail. The Board’s concern is to improve Kings Heath for the benefit of every business.
Why do schools pay the BID levy?
Every property with a rateable value of £5,000 or above that falls within the BID boundary currently pays the BID levy (with the exception of a few NHS-owned properties). This was controversial when the boundary last changed in 2018, but we are working with the schools to ensure that they, like every other levy-payer, are getting value for money from the BID. The schools’ levy is paid for by Birmingham City Council, so the schools’ budgets are not directly impacted.
Why hasn’t the BID got rid of the Covid barriers?
Again, it isn’t within the BID’s control to do this. We have held several meetings with BCC to discuss what will happen with the part of the high street where there used to be on-street parking and have consulted with all the businesses that had on-street parking outside their shops. We found that a narrow majority wanted to see parking returned (which is unlikely to happen) and that, fundamentally the businesses just wanted a permanent solution put into place. We are lobbying hard with BCC to see this happen sooner rather than later.
Why are there so many beggars and rough sleepers?
It’s a city and nationwide issue, unfortunately. Our street wardens talk to the beggars and rough sleepers daily and they are signposted to the relevant support agencies, with whom we also work closely. Sadly, though, many of these individuals do not wish to engage with the help that is available to them. Where they are involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour, though, we do work with the Police to see them moved on and several have received custodial sentences this year.
Why do the street wardens only work with the national retailers?
They don’t. The wardens patrol the whole BID area several times a day (subject to not being waylaid by other issues). The BID’s Retail Radio scheme is largely used by nationals, due to the £1-day cost involved, so they are more often in contact with our street wardens, but they are there to support every business and are available to all. The national retailers, though, do suffer a larger percentage of business crime and our wardens save them thousands of pounds weekly.
Why don’t you keep us up to date?
We do. We send out fortnightly mailshots via email – if you don’t receive these, make sure we have your correct email address. We have also sent out a number of hard-copy letters over the course of the year related to specific projects or issues and both the TCM and street wardens are always available to come and see any business that wants to talk to them.
Why don’t you support the businesses on the side streets?
We do – there is probably more that we could do and will keep endeavouring to ensure that the work that the BID does is representative of every business in the BID area. The high street provides our anchor stores which, largely, draw consumers to the area, but it is the independents – across the BID area – that give Kings Heath its unique feeling.
Why do you only do events on York Road?
Well, the BID has only just re-entered the world of events in the last few weeks, thanks to Covid and, prior to that, concerns about terrorism. The first weekend in June 2022 saw Queens Heath Pride and we will be scheduling more for the years ahead. The focus will inevitably be on the pedestrianised space in York Road but any events will absolutely draw in other parts of the BID area.
Why did the BID support the pedestrianisation of York Road?
It didn’t. The BID hasn’t “supported” any of the implementations of the LTN and certainly is concerned about the impacts of some of them on some businesses. It is clear that the pedestrianisation of York Road has enabled some businesses to take advantage, but we know that other businesses have suffered and have worked with them and are always willing to work with them to find opportunities and solutions. What we can’t do, though, is have the pedestrianised area removed, and neither should we want to, given the range of views held by businesses on that street alone.
How can the Board operate with so many conflicts of interest?
Every Director on the BID Board comes with their own experiences, opinions and areas of interest, so perhaps it is fair to say that these can present conflicts. That is why a strong Board is important, as are the Board’s protocols, which demand that actual conflicts of interest be declared. We don’t publish the minutes of Board meetings, but any business that wishes to see them is welcome to.
Why does the manager get paid so much?
Our Town Centre Manager is paid a salary commensurate with the position that they hold and is in line with the salaries of other BID managers across the city and across the country.
Why is there a Birmingham City Councillor on the BID Board?
Most BIDs across the country will have a representative from the Local Authority on their Boards, certainly every other BID in Birmingham does. Like every other business that is represented, BCC pays a BID levy to Kings Heath BID, in fact it pays more levy than any other business, so has a right to sit on the Board as a levy payer, like any other business.
The BID Board asked Birmingham City Council to nominate an appropriate Councillor to join the Board, which they did after following their own internal protocols.
Having the Council on the board offers further advantages as well. Dealing with BCC can be tricky and frustrating and having close ties at Board level often opens up some obstacles caused by dealing with the local authority.