Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The man from The Electoral Reform Society he say YES

Great news! At just after 5pm this afternoon I was able to announce to gathered businesmen in The Plaza building in Old Hall Street that the establishment of the Commercial District BID had been agreed by the kind of vote for which  politicians would kiss babies.

In order to ensure that the establishment of a BID had to demonstrate wide support in the business community the national government inserted a number of safeguards. Promoters of a BID have to demonstrate that 20% of business even want the matter to go to a vote and, when the vote is taken, not one but two majorities have to be established. That smaller businesses' interests are taken into account means that a majority of all businesses, on a one business one vote basis, has to be established. This means that the vote of the business with one or two employees carries as much weight as the giant multi national conglomerate. That the interests of the large businesses are catered for has to be established by a vote weighted by rateable value. In this vote the large businesses with large offices, greater floorspace, and therefore a higher rateable value, carry more weight.  Designing a prospectus for the BID which appeals to both constituencies is therefore a challenging task.

Today's vote was carried clearly in both sections of the vote. In the one-business-one-vote section there was a 60% vote in favour. In the weighted vote section there was a 70% vote in favour. Many local councillors in Liverpool have been elected with lower percentages of the vote than this.

The establishment of the BID means that businesses will contribute £3 million pounds over the next five years to the continued regeneration of the Commercial District. Spending has to be in line with the prospectus put to the vote and the BID board will be business led. In a BID there is no such thing as going back on your promises as national politicians have done in very recent history.

The news of the vote was met with great jubilation by the businesses gathered together. The success of the vote owes a lot to many of the people who were there but is a particularly remarkable triumph for Paul Rice, who has suffered greatly from poor health over the past year, and David Guest from Bruntwood who stepped up to the plate and ensured that the campaign did not falter.  The BID is in good hands as Paul, David and others take on the challenge of invigorating the Commercial District.

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