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The Institute of Place Management (IPM) has been chosen as the new partner organisation to support the development of a unified and independent representative body for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) following an extensive industry-led research and selection process by a broad cross section of England’s leading BIDs.

The Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people involved in developing, managing and making better places. Established in 2006, it is part of Manchester Metropolitan University but has a worldwide membership of place practitioners, policy makers and academic researchers. The Institute is experienced in working at all levels across the place spectrum supporting voluntary groups in many locations, working with NABMA to support market managers, with local authorities, through to city-wide, regional and national place management.

In 2016, a group of Business Improvement Districts responded to the growing need for greater industry-wide support and representation of BIDs. They commissioned Rocket Science to carry out an independent piece of consultative research which produced the Representing BIDs report.

Drawing on feedback from over 100 BIDs, as well as government and private sector stakeholders, the research confirmed the need for a single, member-owned body to represent the BID industry.  The report set out a clear picture of what BIDs and their partners are looking for, as well as identifying the current gaps in the support required to meet the needs of a burgeoning industry.

The changing economic landscape alongside the localisation agenda is creating both opportunities and challenges. The number of BIDs is increasing and there is significant investment from levy payers, but local authority budget reductions and policy changes mean that BIDs are having to adapt their delivery models and be innovative in managing the areas in which they operate.

BID managers and their Board Members need more co-ordinated support to navigate change, identify opportunities, manage risk and assess an extensive pool of collective knowledge that should be held in one place. This calls for a deepening of the knowledge base and importantly for a renewed commitment to ensuring quality and best practice across the whole industry.

The research findings informed a specification of the required service, and existing suppliers were formally invited to respond via a competitive tendering process. Expressions of interest were received from four organisations (the Association of Town and City Management, British BIDs, the Institute of Place Management and Revive & Thrive), each setting out their offer to meet the priority needs of the industry:

  • represent the industry providing an independent recognised voice for BIDs
  • engage with BIDs and stakeholders on policy and intelligence updates
  • offer the industry and its members support and guidance on best practice

The submissions were subject to a rigorous and independently-managed assessment process and interviews by a panel of 18 BIDs including: Acocks Green BID, Baker Street Quarter BID, Bath BID, Better Bankside, Bristol – Destination Bristol, Bristol Broadmead BID, Bristol City Centre BID, Brixton BID, Cathedral Quarter, Colmore BID, Croydon BID, Fitzrovia BID, Heart of London BID, Kingstonfirst BID, Leamington BID, Leeds BID, Lincoln BID, Liverpool BID, Love Wimbledon BID, New Market BID, New West End Company, Newbury BID, Norwich BID, Paddington BID, Stratford BID, Team London Bridge, We are Waterloo BID, Winchester BID

The Institute of Place Management was selected for having the requisite capacity, standing and independence to assist in elevating standards of performance and governance across the BID industry and in the interests of BID levy payers.  The selection panel also felt IPM was best placed to work with government-policy makers, LEPs, local government and those providing commercial services within the industry to raise the profile and impact of BIDs.

Those organisations which were unsuccessful, will clearly still provide services and products for practitioners in the increasingly commercial market for BID-support services.  The panel invites them to collaborate with the IPM and work collectively in the interests of improving standards and raising the voice of the industry.

Speaking on behalf of the Representing BIDs Steering Group, Andrew Cooper commented:

 “The Representing BIDs steering group, comprising BIDs from all areas of the country, unanimously recommended the decision to select IPM.  We found the process to have been healthy for the industry; it has already brought practitioners closer together with those who provide, support, consultancy and services which can only be good for the future of BIDs as a whole.”

Cathy Parker, Chair of the Institute of Place Management said:

“We are delighted to have been invited to work with the industry to build a membership body that is widely supported by BIDs, their levy payers, other membership bodies, service provides and government organisations.  IPM is entirely committed to developing the Representing BIDs service in a way that is driven by BIDs and reflects the values by which BIDs are managed whilst bringing our extensive experience and knowledge of place management to bear.”

What happens next

It has been agreed that the first step in taking forward this joint approach is to hold a planning meeting where a detailed action plan for the next 12 months will be drawn up.

IPM will work to establish a distinct BIDs group that is independently recognised, transparent, and trusted across the industry. This will have its own brand and identity but be supported by IPM. IPM will co-design the new governance arrangements and, building on the findings of the Rocket Science Representing BIDs report, develop services and materials that will serve existing, new and prospective BIDs. This will be a voice for the industry to government at all levels, to the business community and to other interested parties.

IPM will appoint a Policy and Public Affairs Director as well as a BIDs Director but until these appointments are made Simon Quin, a former Town Centre Manager and ATCM Chief Executive from 2004-2010, will lead the engagement with BIDs. Commenting on the forthcoming planning meeting, he said

“As well as immediate things like setting up the membership systems for BIDs, during the year ahead we will also jointly identify best practice, develop accreditation and courses and define research agendas for BIDs. We will work together to better understand decision making and management at a local level so that BIDs can best serve both their levy payers and the areas in which they are located. We very much see this as a joint approach and hope as many of you as possible will play an active role.”

You can read the submission from IPM at www.placemanagement.org/BIDs.