The Gloucester Road Business Improvement District represents around 250 traders in the Gloucester Road. It has just taken a ballot by its members that shows by a very narrow margin they do not wish to support the continuation of the BID.
GRBID has been working hard in the last two years to maintain and improve this local stronghold of independent traders (see its list of aims below).
TBS is very disappointed with the decision as it thinks GRBID, and its enthusiastic manager Anne-Louise Perez, has achieved a lot in the short time it has operated, not least as a range of areas of collaboration between community organisations and traders groups have been opening up recently. We supported a vote for BID to continue (see here).
TBS also has sympathy with the negative campaigning and other discourteous treatment GRBID has received, and we're disappointed by the unnecessary rivalry they have suffered from a different group of traders, leading to wasteful competition instead of collaborative working for the common good of Bishopston's economy and community.
We're aware that other community organisations share out view on this and will be working with them and legitimate traders' interests to review the best ways forwards for Bishopston as a whole.
Here is the letter just sent out to GRBID members following the ballot:-
The ballot result is calculated on two criteria: votes cast and rateable value.
Out of a total number of 251 eligible businesses in Gloucester Road BID area 125 votes were cast. With 59 supporting votes 47% of businesses voted in favour of the BID.
The aggregated rateable value of businesses that voted was £1,916,825 but businesses with an aggregated rateable value of £932,225 voted in favour (47%). This means there will be no New BID.
47% of companies in the proposed BID area Gloucester Road, including parts of Cheltenham Road, Zetland Road, Overton and Denmark Place, which voted supported the proposal to set up the new business body but the proposal failed by 4 votes and a deficit of £26,187.50 in rateable value therefore it did not secure a majority as measured by rateable value nor vote cast. The ballot closed yesterday (Thursday 14 March 2019).
Firstly I would like to thank the Board of Directors of the GRBID who were all traders - they dedicated a great deal of their own time voluntarily to raise the awareness of Bristol’s Independent District’s trading scene and make it a better place for us all, a thank you to our BID Manager – Anne-Louise Perez, and Dominique Blackmore (team support) whose combined enthusiasm, organisation, networks and drive made things happen – and of course to all those local businesses, volunteers and Bristol organisations that gave us their support through the years.
We know there were mixed views from businesses throughout the engagement process for a new GRBID, in particular concerns stemmed from memories of when the GRBID was first democratically elected in 2014 and the ineffectiveness of those first 2 years. However from extensive communications many local businesses in the GRBID area noted the significant improvements in the area from 2016 to 2019 when a new Board of Directors had formed and new management was hired. They felt that GRBID offered value for their on average £200/year levy contribution and if a New BID were elected this continued average would be worthwhile for the returns gained.
So in light of those first chaotic years this New BID proposal probably attracted more scrutiny than most BIDs, and was a target of a relentless negative campaign since 2016 from GRE&T (Gloucester Road Enterprise & Trade) led by Peter Browne (a local retired resident who is a volunteer for GRE&T). Early on GRBID had meetings together with GRE&T and other local trading groups to explore ways of working together and whilst this was successful with other groups present, plans to work with GRE&T were made impossible due to the obstructive stand taken by Peter Browne.
Recently during ballot month (for a new GRBID) a minority of anti GRBID businesses got together with GRE&T and letters were sent to all potential levy payers. The letters and subsequent newsletter used fear mongering tactics, fake assumptions, sensationalist headlines, false financial statements concerning the levy, dismissal of achievements of the GRBID – these actions appeared to have had no other motive than to halt by any means an organisation that was formed by traders, led by traders and was for the benefit of the local trading scene and community.
We know there will be many disappointed traders and community stakeholders who recognised the improvements and benefits to the area made possible by the levy fund and work undertaken by GRBID. The levy fund was always used to elevate the profile of the Gloucester Road BID area locally and as essentially to a wider audience nationally. It was notable GRBID area in recent years had one of the lowest vacancy rates in Bristol and it was no surprise the area became a desirable place to open a new business or even a second business.
The GRBID and the businesses involved fully acknowledge the challenges facing the high street locally and nationally. We also know supporters will now feel the area will be worse off without a new BID. They will be looking to the future to see what options if any are possible or even viable, and they will be anticipating to learn from the ‘Anti BID ’Campaigners and Peter Browne of GRE&T their proposed “alternative” strategy to support the area’s trading scene and community.
GRBID Ltd will now terminate the GRBID arrangements (though complete committed projects from the original business plan) and the current board of directors will initiate the process of winding up the company. As mentioned previously, the levy was accounted for in the budget and so there will be no refunds expected.
Erika Peto –Chair - Board of Directors Gloucester Road BID Ltd
These were the stated aims of GRBID:-
- Develop the new brand using PR and Social Media
- Provide decals for shop windows
- Bring seasonal events to the area
- Increase and monitor footfall
- Make provisions for cycle parking
- Consider ways to create income
- Engage with Gloucester Road traders and businesses(outside of the BID area)
- Connect on a regular basis with BID members and local stakeholders via open forums
- Cleaner streets – supporting the BCR Streetscene team
- Parking – look at options to make it work for everyone. New signs coming soon on current meters to make it clear you have 30 minutes free parking.