From frequently asked questions – such as ‘what are you guys bidding on?’ – we have noticed that a BID can sometimes be misunderstood both in the Harrogate area and nationally.

Business Improvement Districts, shortened to ‘BIDs’, originate from Canada and North America, where they were formed in the 1970s. BIDs are an arrangement in which businesses come together and decide which improvements they feel could be made in their town or city, how they will be put in place and what it will cost.

BIDs are not for profit organisations funded and controlled by the businesses within the selected area. Each unique BID varies as every business plan is different due to the fact that the objectives are created through a consultation of businesses in the local area, which then leads to a 28-day ballot process.

A BID team is formed to deliver extra services and projects on top of those already provided by public bodies. In our case in Harrogate, this is on behalf of more than 450 businesses.

Day-to-day operations are led by our BID Manager, Matthew Chapman, who reports to a Board of Directors, Chair of the Board Dan Siddle, of The Crown Hotel and Vice Chair and Andrea Thornborrow of Primark. Directors are elected annually and represent a range of the town’s businesses, including the retail, hospitality and professional sectors.

Another question we are regularly asked is ‘are we the council?’. The answer is no. While we work very closely with North Yorkshire Council, we are by no means part of it. The local authority is one of our biggest funders through our additional levy. We hold baseline agreements with the council, professionally holding them to account on tasks such as emptying bins, cutting the grass, tourism and inward investment, to name a few.

So, why do we need a BID in Harrogate?

The majority of thriving town and city centres have BIDs that contribute to economic and cultural growth. In fact, there are more than 330 in the UK, including in nearby locations such as York, Leeds, Ripon, Skipton, Ilkley, Otley and Bradford.

At Harrogate BID, we are working to drive investment into the town centre. Through our Term 2 Business Plan, which will run until 2028, we aim to take pride in the vibrant town of Harrogate, while helping to share the voice of businesses along with their vision. As we are based in the town centre, this allows us to react quickly to any issues raised by businesses or members of the public.

Our Street Ranger, Chris, is on the ground five days a week ensuring Harrogate is looking at its best, come rain or shine.

The BID funds different initiatives and schemes, all with the combined aim of making Harrogate a safe, clean and welcoming place.

Some of the schemes and initiatives the BID include:
• Additional floral displays
• Dressing empty shop units
• Offering street entertainment
• Funding Christmas lights
• Free parking and bus travel
• Deep cleaning on the streets in the BID area
• Lining the streets with bunting

Harrogate BID hosts a variety of events to keep the town centre thriving and encourage visitors into the area – and to make a return visit if we can! The BID team members are working harder than ever to organise a range of events to keep the town centre lively and active throughout 2024.

Some of the events set to be held across the year include:
• The first ever Harrogate Self Care Week
• Mothering Funday
• Harrogate Dog Show
• Harrogate Celebration of Fashion
• Father’s Day Activation
• Harrogate Floral Summer of Celebration
• Lego Trail
• Harrogate Music Weekender

During Term 1, we collaborated with partners such as Harrogate International Festivals, Visit Harrogate, Your Harrogate, The Stray Ferret, Harrogate in Bloom and Harrogate Mumbler to deliver campaigns successfully and plan to continue to build on these activities year on year.

Through our Voice & Vision objective, we at the BID will act as the glue that brings everyone together. We’re not afraid to raise our collective voice for the good of our town. We work on behalf of businesses to make sure their opinions are voiced and aspirations are delivered.

The BID has been described as ‘a breath of fresh air’ by Harrogate businesses and residents and has been said to ‘bring life and energy’ into the town.

We also have a few new plans up our sleeves for the next 12 months, so keep your eyes peeled on the BID website and social media channels for updates across the year…