'BID needs to rethink spending to benefit district’

August 11 2020
'BID needs to rethink spending to benefit district’

A North Street businessman has criticised the way the Bedminster Business Improvement District (BID) allocates its funds.

by Charley Rogers
 
Chris Cierpik, owner of Rare Butchers, speaking exclusively with the South Bristol Voice, has shared his growing concerns with the Bedminster BID. 
Although the organisation has“come up with some good ideas,” says Chris, Bedminster generally has“nothing to show for all this money we’ve spent”. 
BID organisers say their finances are publicly available and that their budget is aimed at improving the future of Bedminster"as a retail and hospitality destination."
The Bedminster BID is an organisation set up to improve business within the district of Bedminster. The BID is funded by a levy paid from the businesses within the district – this is a percentage of their rateable value on top of business rates. 
The BID goes through five-year cycles, and at the end of those five years there is a vote amongst all the businesses within the BID district. If that vote passes with a majority of more than 50 percent, then the BID levy is implemented across all of them.
 Budgets are traditionally broken down into things such as built environment, crime prevention, marketing and promotion. 
In lots of cases BID reps lobby for better business services such as waste removal, accessibility etc, but varies on a BID-by-BID basis.
Chris is critical of the general spending decisions of Bedminster BID, questioning decisions to“paint bollards on East Street like a child would do” instead of installing neat stainless steel bins, or removing disused phone boxes. 
Chris also requested improvements to the gates of St Francis Church, discussions around which he says continued for around two years, with little progress. He says he ended up addressing the issue himself, using £3k of the £10k government grant given to businesses in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to restore the original gates. 
 “This is a fantastic area,” says Chris,“and it’s sad how much could be done, but isn’t”. The BID needs to justify its spending says Chris, and is urging the organisation to make its finances more transparent. 
Simon Dicken, chairman of the Bedminster BID commented:“The Bedminster BID represents businesses on East St, West St, North St, Cannon St and Bedminster Parade and operates with all traders and consumers in the area in mind. 
“The volunteer board of directors is made up of local business owners, each with their own professional stake in the future wellbeing of Bedminster as a retail and hospitality destination.
“The BID’s operating budget is directed to improving the area for the business owners and consumers who use the space as well as plan and manage improvements for the future. All of our financials are available publicly and copies can be obtained by emailing business@bedminster.org.uk.
“Bedminster is a diverse and vibrant area of Bristol and made up of businesses who truly want to see the community thrive. The BID’s number one priority is to support its members and encourage consumers to visit the area.”
Recent spending by the BID has included the Bedminster Christmas Gift Guide, refurbishment of the Ebenezer Gate pocket park, the Bedminster Lantern Parade, Upfest, and management of www.bedminster.org.uk and www.wearebs3.co.uk, the latter of which has been set up to help Bedminster’s businesses sell online through lockdown. 
More information on the Bedminster BID is available at www.bedminster.org.uk