St Albans BID “improving the local economy”
St Albans Business Improvement District (BID) has taken on an important role in developing the local economy since it was formed three years ago, a report has concluded.
The not-for-profit organisation came into force in April 2017 with the aim of providing additional services to people who live and work in the City Centre.
It is part funded by a levy on some 500 businesses in its designated area that totals around £450,000 a year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, St Abans BID has “been crucial in enhancing the essential work” undertaken by St Albans City and District Council, the report says.
This has included employing BID Rangers who have been patrolling the City Centre, advising shoppers and businesses on COVID safety regulations.
The organisation also helped set up pop-up markets and community hubs where traders and small businesses could sell their produce.
It promoted the Inside Out St Albans campaign, allowing businesses to operate on the street, and was involved in the decision to temporarily pedestrianise some City Centre streets.
The report about the work of St Albans BID was given to a meeting of the Council’s Community, Environment and Sport Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee also heard about the work of St Albans Visitor Partnership which the BID is involved with.
The Partnership is currently working on a strategy, funded by the BID, to make the District a first-class destination for visitors.
Councillor Annie Brewster, the Committee’s Chair, said after the meeting:
We felt it important to invite representatives from St Albans BID to our scrutiny meeting as they have such a close association with the Council.
The overwhelming view of the Committee was that it is doing an excellent job in promoting our local businesses and providing a range of additional services, many of which residents assume the Council provides exclusively.
It has been particularly active during the COVID pandemic, balancing the need to keep people safe with the need to ensure our local economy can come through this crisis in reasonable shape.
Looking further into the future, the work the BID is doing as a key member of St Albans Visitor Partnership has the potential to turn the City with its unique heritage and host of great attractions into a major visitor destination.
The committee felt that this ambition, though, has to have a District-wide scope and we are already seeing many BID initiatives that flow both ways. Surrounding Parishes are encouraged to share information about their visitor attractions and events so we can support one another.
For example, both day and overnight visitors are likely to seek out the City Centre, have lunch or stay in one of our central hotels having explored wonderful tourist destinations such as the Wheathampstead Heritage Trail or the Redbourn Museum.
Picture: Crinkle Crankle Garden on the Wheathampstead Heritage Trail.