New project hopes to improve Dundee businesses as city aims to be European Capital of Culture

A fresh bid to revitalise Dundee city centre is under way after a new project held its first meeting.

The Dundee Business Improvement District (BID) project aims to help city centre businesses flourish by providing them with up to £700,000 of financial support each year.

Organisers held a meeting at Abertay University, which was attended by local businesses keen on getting involved.

The BID model sees local firms pay into a community pot, which is used for local marketing, events, and combating anti-social behaviour.

It can also work as a platform represent local businesses on issues such as parking.

However, before it can come into effect it has to be backed by a majority of local businesses — including national chains, which have more leverage when deciding whether or not to proceed with the project.

Neil Cooney, a consultant involved in the Dundee BID, said the meeting was about “testing the waters”.

He said: “Unfortunately it wasn’t very well attended, but we’re still testing the waters as part of the BID process. It’s clear that we could do with some support with certain things in the city centre.

“That problem is not unique to Dundee, so one of the reasons we had the meeting was to hear what was being done in other cities.”

BID teams from other towns and cities in Scotland, including Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline and Stirling, gave presentations on their own experiences, as well as how it had changed their communities.

Mr Cooney, who also sits on the project team for Dundee’s European Capital of Culture bid, said the BID aligned strongly with Dundee’s pitch.

He said other cities competing for the 2023 crown already had their own successful BID projects.

“I’m looking at examples where they have really made a difference, places like Edinburgh and Bath.

“I’m looking at Belfast, which has a BID generating £1 million a year, and at Leeds, with a budget of £1.5 million.

“Nottingham’s BID has brought in £1 million every year for the last six years.

“While a BID is not a magic bullet for Dundee city centre’s problems, it can offer communication and it can offer budget. It can be anything up to £700,000 a year.”

Dundee BID previously attempted to get up and running in 2015 but failed to gather enough support from city centre businesses.

However, several local businesses told the Tele the latest attempt would have their backing when the new project was announced earlier this year.

According to national body BIDs Scotland, there are 36 established and 24 developing BIDs across the country, representing more than 10,000 businesses.BIDS have brought an additional £19.6 million into town centres since 2008, returning around 47p for every £1 invested.BIDs Scotland also estimates that Scotland will have 65 bids by the end of the year, creating a “nationally significant impact” on town centres. 
Dundee Evening Telegraph
28th September 2017