Whilst expecting many challenges of running a BID, encountering a global pandemic certainly was not one of them.
As a small team we have dealt with every twist and turn and will continue to support our businesses to the best of our abilities.
We have worked hand in hand with the Council, central government and local agencies such as South Yorkshire Police to deliver the abbreviated Summer, Autumn and Christmas periods for retailers and other operators on the high street as well as a wide range of other industries that pay the BID levy.
As lockdowns begin, end and then begin again, it has remained a critical time for consumer confidence in a safe and welcoming experience. To this end, Sheffield BID is providing essential operational support through three street teams as well as guidance on a vast range of issues for national and independent levy payer businesses.
We are also planning now for 2021 subject to a successful renewal ballot outcome next month (Feb 21).
Aided by the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccination programme, intensive work will be required to encourage people back to our city centre once lockdown is lifted, particularly in the first six months when social distancing and other measures are likely to be retained.
A wider profile of BID activity is already planned with The Bears of Sheffield Sculpture trail, Restaurant Week, Fashion Ball and other interactive events and trails which are ‘oven ready’ for delivery just as soon as it is safe to do so.
Whether for single families or larger gatherings permitted once lockdown is lifted, this private-sector coordination of place marketing, visitor experience and public space activation is vital. With BID support, we are confident that the public will return to high streets in greater numbers once businesses can reopen.
It is in this context that Sheffield BID is still working harder with much less resource at it nears the end of what was a successful first term. Commercial partnerships that typically supplement BID levy and fund much local activity are, in many cases, are not viable right now. (Financial support from government covered no more than three months of our overheads only, last summer and a number of BID levies remain uncollected at this time.)
It is for all of the above reasons that our Board of Directors is pursuing a renewal of the city centre BID despite many businesses still being adversely affected by the restrictions.
Financially we are doing what we can to reduce the burden of additional charges on businesses, by reducing our own levy from 1% to 0.5% in the first year of a second term and with payment deferred for three months. We hope this will give many businesses some breathing space whilst still securing the services and projects that help maintain our city centre environment and create a more vibrant destination.
We very much hope we shall have your continued support in working beyond COVID-19 to a further five year programme to keep our city centre maintained, vibrant, connected and sustainable.
Sheffield BID Manager