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Investment in Ilkley at stake as BID ballot opens

Ilkley BID Chair Ian White, BID Manager Helen Rhodes and BID board member Paul Craggs from The Ilkley Shoe Company

Around 300 Ilkley businesses are being asked to vote to secure the future of the town’s Business Improvement District.

At stake is a budget of £730k that will be spent in the town over the next five years on projects and services over and above those provided by Bradford Council. 

Ilkley BID’s first five-year term ends on 31 May and the organisation is asking levy-paying businesses and organisations to support its continuation from 1 June 2024 until May 2029 by voting ‘yes’ in the independent ballot which closes at 5pm on Thursday 21 March.

Ilkley BID is a limited, not-for-profit company funded by a levy on businesses and organisations within a specified area of the town. It is run by a voluntary operating board made up of representatives of all sectors and the levy, which starts from as little as £9.63 per month, is calculated at 1.65% of the rateable value of eligible businesses and is used for projects to help promote and develop the town.

BID chair Ian White who is also director of Ilkley-based Bluehoop Digital, said if the BID doesn’t win a second term, the services and support that businesses and visitors value and have come to expect, will stop.

He said: “Bradford Council is cutting services across the district and without the BID, Ilkley has no resource or single body looking out for its interests. There is no other organisation with the capacity or funds that our levy-payers provide which is for the direct benefit of those who use and visit our town.

“We’re confident that most business owners recognise the importance of having an independent organisation focused on maintaining Ilkley as a thriving town. Our board itself comprises business owners and managers so we also know that business is tough – so it’s more important than ever that Ilkley BID continues to invest in Ilkley and keep people visiting, returning and contributing to our local economy.”

The BID began its consultation with local business in August 2023 and used feedback from respondents to create a five-year Business Plan which was launched to levy payers at an event on 25 January. Priorities were identified as marketing and promotion of the town to help attract footfall, keeping Ilkley clean and attractive and supporting local businesses.

Ian added: “Our fourth information leaflet is being delivered to businesses over the next fortnight, giving more context to Ilkley’s role as a Business Improvement District. It’s important that as well as having our Business Plan, the BID also remains fluid and reactive in its service delivery to allow us to respond to unexpected events – something which was tested when COVID hit and our resources were vital for providing emergency support for Ilkley businesses.”

Sally Shelton, from Clip ‘n Climb Ilkley, considers her small annual levy as a critical part of her marketing budget. She said: “The BID is enormously important to our town and as a community of businesses, we need to look beyond only our needs and look at the greater good that can be achieved. We will definitely be voting ‘Yes’. The cost is minimal in relation to other business expenses and like many other things in life, BID membership can be a real asset if you get involved with what’s on offer.”

All eligible levy payers have now received a ballot paper with the Business Plan and should return their ballot papers to the independent ballot service provider, UK Engage, by Monday 18 March to ensure they are received by the deadline of 5pm on 21 March.

The BID is also holding a drop-in session at Ilkley Town Hall on Wednesday 6 March from 4pm to 6pm where additional questions can be answered.

Ilkley BID Manager Helen Rhodes added: “Voting is a critical time for getting your voice heard and securing the future of investment in our town. Despite all the challenges of the last five years, we’ve put our heart and soul into doing our best for Ilkley and our Business Plan responds directly to the needs that businesses have identified for the next five years.

“If the BID fails to win a second term, the services and initiatives which so many now expect – and which will be so important in the coming years - will disappear altogether. Our hope is that businesses vote “Yes” and secure five more years of investment, self-sufficiency and confidence for Ilkley.”

The Ilkley BID Business Plan can be seen on the BID website, by navigating to the renewal page. Members are also free to email helen@ilkleybid.co.uk or call the BID office on 07437 504614 for more information.

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