RHYL BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT (BID) RE-BALLOT
To consider a report from the Economic & Business Development Lead Officer (copy attached) on the Rhyl Business Improvement District’s (BID) proposed second term re-ballot arrangements.
10.55 – 11.35 am
Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Economic Growth and Tackling Deprivation, Councillor Jason McLellan introduced the Rhyl Business Improvement District (BID) Re-ballot report (previously circulated).
The report provided an opportunity for members to scrutinise the proposal for a second term of the BID. Members were reminded the Rhyl BID was established in November 2018, following a successful ballot with a mandate to operate for a maximum of 5 years. In order to continue operating, a new set of proposals were required to be put to a ballot. The BID provided a form of local democracy, it gave local businesses the power to collectively raise funds to deliver agreed improvements to the local area. The BID was funded by local businesses contributing a small portion of business rateable value levy. A BID could only be formed following a successful ballot taking place, and any additional monies levied could only be utilised on items or services not provided by the local authority. Members heard the proposed business plan was attached to the agenda papers as Appendix 1.
It was stressed the BIDs were independent to the Council. Denbighshire County Council were a key stakeholder and had a statutory duty to conduct any BID ballots and to collect and enforce the BID levies. The authority was a significant levy payer in the BID area and therefore had a number of votes within the ballot process.
The Council was represented on the Rhyl BID Board by the Corporate Director Economy and Environment, Tony Ward.
The Corporate Director Economy and Environment thanked the Leader for the overview of the report. He introduced to the Committee Abigail Pilling who was employed by the Rhyl BID as the Rhyl BID manager and Nadeem Ahmed owner of Jean Emporium in Rhyl Town Centre and Chair of the Rhyl BID Board.
The purpose of the report was threefold; firstly, to examine the proposals for a second five-year term for the Rhyl BID, secondly to inform members about the steps involved in arranging and holding a ballot and finally to enable the Committee to raise and ask any questions regarding the BID or the ballot process.
He guided members to paragraph 4.11 and 4.12 of the covering report, which informed members that part of the role of the Council was to decide whether there were any grounds to veto the BID proposals. The Council could veto the proposals if they conflicted with any corporate policy of the Council or if it felt that they placed a significantly disproportionate financial burden upon any person or class of persons. Ultimately Cabinet would ask those questions in September 2023, prior to allowing the BID to take place. Members heard it was officers’ opinion that the proposals did not fall under either area to veto the proposals.
Abigail Pilling addressed the Committee providing a brief overview of what the BID had been able to facilitate and deliver to date. She stated the original BID identified 4 action areas - safe and welcoming, cleansing and maintenance, marketing and business support. One of the more well-known projects was the Town Ranger Project which crossed over all 4 action areas. She made members aware of the events programme which detailed signature events proposed to take place. Alongside these events a training programme was timetabled to offer in-house training on certain areas for businesses. The BID was also involved in some community initiatives with a number of partnerships developed. The Chair of the BID Board, Nadeem Ahmed, added that the proposed new business plan attached to the report built on what had been established during the first 5 year term of the BID and aimed to progress and go further.
The Chair thanked the speakers and officers for the introduction Committee members were given an opportunity to ask questions to the Leader, public speakers and Officers. In response to the questions and observations raised confirmation was provided:
- Contact had been made with Denbighshire Leisure Limited (DLL). Discussions around potential projects had taken place. The main contact had been in relation to supporting the Rhyl Air Show. Communication with officers at the Rhyl Pavilion had also taken place regarding the upcoming Safari Trail which was taking place during the summer in the hope they would have an attraction or focus point to draw visitors to that area of Rhyl.
- Denbighshire County Council did not have more than 50 % of the overall votes in total. There were a number of rules that governed the ballot process. The rules were set by the Business Improvement District (Wales) Regulations and were therefore set out in law. It provided details of which businesses were eligible to vote and how the ballot must be conducted. Included in the rules was information on how a result was achieved.
- Eligible businesses were required to cast their vote(s) for the vote to be counted. If people were against the proposal they needed to submit a their ballot and not disregard the ballot paper or abstain. That was made clear on the accompanying documentation. A consultant had been employed by the BID Board to assist with the engagement with businesses.
- A survey had been issued to eligible businesses in the area asking for comments on areas that were in need of support. The business case was then formed in response to the survey. The survey was still open and businesses were encouraged to complete the questionnaire. This formed the basis of how projects were agreed. A number of areas had been identified that were ongoing from the current Rhyl BID.
- Once the business case was finalised a detailed list and potential allocation of funds would be published.
- The business case would be made available to businesses prior to the ballot.
- The potential investment with floral displays in Rhyl was a future proposal. The Rhyl BID Board was in discussion with Rhyl Town Council. It was hoped it would support and expand the work of the Town Council in relation to floral displays.
- The BID decided its own priorities. It was up to the businesses to discuss and agree the action plan within the BID’s business plan priorities. The BID had to deliver things over and above what would be provided to the town by the local authority.
- The Rhyl BID was a collective voice for Rhyl businesses, offering collaborative opportunities to all.
- The local authority was one business who was entitled to vote. Businesses should participate to ensure their vote contributed towards the outcome.
- There had been 33 cases were the Authority had to pursue enforcement action on businesses to pay the levy. The total cost of the enforcement action was circa £900.
- The BID enforcement rules mirrored the rules set out by council tax and business rates enforcement. Empty business properties were exempt for three months and then would be required to pay the levy.
- All businesses were included in the discussions including those businesses that fell under the levy threshold. The Rhyl BID included all in the designated geographic area. The objective was that all would benefit from the BID including the small businesses.
- A decision would be made by Cabinet if Denbighshire County Council would be exercising it votes for, against or abstaining from voting on the Rhyl BID.
- The final business plan would be issued to all key stakeholders and would be made available on the Rhyl BID website.
The Chair thanked both public speakers for attending the meeting and answering members questions. Also, thanks were given to the Leader and officers.
At the conclusion of a comprehensive discussion the Committee, having considered the report and draft business plan:
(i) subject to the above observations to receive the contents of the draft Business Improvement District (BID) Business Plan 2024-2029 (Appendix 1 to the report);
(ii) subject to there being no significant change(s) to the current BID proposals which would impact on the factors which influence the use of the power of veto as identified in Section 51(2) of the Business Improvement Districts (Wales) Regulations 2005, to support the Officer recommendation that there were no grounds for the Council to exercise the power of veto in relation to the ballot; and
(iii) to support the steps and timescales involved in the re-ballot process, including the steps to take the process through Denbighshire County Council’s democratic process.
- Rhyl BID Reballot Report 0600723, item 6. PDF 142 KB
- Rhyl BID Report 060723 - App 1, item 6. PDF 3 MB
- Rhyl BID Report 060723 - App 2, item 6. PDF 115 KB