Town Centres and Local High Streets

“…Beating hearts of our local communities; our town centres” (John Swinney, 2008 Scotland’s Towns Conference)

Scotland’s town centres and local high streets are a source of business, services, employment, residential and leisure activity for their local communities. They are a key contributor to the national economy, supporting achievement of the Government’s purpose of supporting sustainable economic growth across the whole of Scotland, for the benefit of all.

To be vital and sustainable, towns and businesses need to be able to respond to the local needs and changing circumstances in order to be competitive and attractive centres. 

The recently published National Review of Town Centres (Scotland), Community and Enterprise in Scotland’s Town Centres called for ‘further support for an increased use of Business Improvement District (BIDs) where existing businesses invest with local authorities in the future of their areas, can help to expand a town centres economic base’.

This proposal was supported by the Scottish Government in the Town Centres Action Plan published in November 2013, which also supported ‘opportunities to expand what BIDs can deliver in alignment with the wider community focus’.


In Scotland, there are now 34 BID towns and cities: Aberdeen, Alloa, Barrhead, Bathgate, Carluke, Clarkston, Crieff, Dunblane, Dunferminline, Dunnon and Cowal, Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh Greater Grassmarket, Edinburgh West End, Elgin, Falkirk, Giffnock, Glasgow Byres Road and Lanes, Hamilton, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Kirkwall, Largs, Linlithgow, Lerwick, Milngavie, Oban, Paisley, Penicuik, South Queensferry and St. Andrews. The Board of Directors in each area are delivering projects and services collectively and in collaboration with other bodies and agencies that will be of benefit to the local businesses and local community. 

A further 9 towns and cities are developing a BID: Auchterarder, Broughton Ferry, Carnoustie, Glasgow Great Western Road, Glasgow Shawlands, Inverurie, Nairn, Peterhead, Stirling and Selkirk, with further interest being registered from towns and cities from across the country.

In these challenging economic times it is this positive activity in Scotland’s town centres that will be the first indication of recovery, providing reassurance that local economies are once again witnessing signs of growth.

Please click here for copies of the National Review of Town Centres Scotland, Community and Enterprise in Scotland’s Town Centres and the Town Centres Action Plan – The Scottish Government Response.


BID Projects

Embrace Elgin – Working with the Community

The City of Elgin (Business Improvement District) Ltd. was established on the 1st February 2010 following a successful ‘Yes’ vote, in an independent ballot of local businesses.

The company is a ‘not for profit’ private limited company, and is tasked with the delivery of the City of Elgin BID Ltd. Business Plan. The Plan was developed following in-depth consultation with businesses, members of the public, key stakeholders and the Public Sector in the lead up to the ballot.

Since its incorporation the City of Elgin BID has played a key role in ensuring that Elgin, which is recognised as the commercial and administrative capital town of Moray, has retained, developed and built upon that status for the benefit of the City Centre and their business members.

Working with the Community

Elgin BID understands the importance of working with our local young people, the future work force of the area, and they have been building links with Elgin Youth Café, Moray College and the local high schools. Young people attending the Youth Café recently attended and took part in the opening event at the Food and Drink Festival, providing them with the opportunity to showcase their skills and enhance their confidence.

In addition, the Youth Café Delta Force (young person’s voluntary group) and Moray College UHI students have now started to work with us at our City Centre Events; this has helped them play an active role in the City Centre and provided them an opportunity to work with members of the public and City Centre businesses. Young volunteers from Elgin Rotaract also work in partnership to run the children’s entertainment area at all their events. We are fully aware that providing these types of opportunities is not only welcomed by the young people but allows them to develop key workplace skills such as communication, planning, organisation and team work.

Visit Embrace Elgin’s Website

Queensferry Ambition - Leveraging Additional Funding of £256,400

After a resounding YES vote in June 2012 Queensferry Ambition became Scotland's 12th business improvement district and began operations in July 2012.

Their vision is 'to reveal the true potential of Queensferry as a quality destination for businesses, residents and visitors, through strengthening local involvement and delivering improvements that businesses genuinely want and contribute to.

Queensferry Ambition had a very active during their first few months of operation delivering a Business Grant Support Programme, Training and Recruitment Events, working with the Queensferry Work Club, working with their local High School and Primary School, developing a Queensferry Brand and lobbying for improved local services and better parking.

A number of the projects delivered and planned by Queensferry Ambition are a first for a BID in Scotland and full details of their projects can be found here. In terms of leverage of additional funding the Forth Bridges Festival 2014 requires special mention.

The Forth Bridges Festival 2014

The 2014 Forth Bridges Festival has required Queensferry Ambition to work in partnership with a number of agencies and funding organisations to deliver positive benefits for their businesses and local community.

Despite being one of the smaller Business Improvement Districts in Scotland with only some 185 properties and an income of £90,000 per year, the Board of Directors work hard alongside their manager to maximise the benefit to their businesses and local community.

There can be no better example in Scotland of a dedicated team working hard to secure additional funding. For an initial investment of £12,500 in The 2014 Forth Bridges Festival, the Board of Directors and Management of Queensferry Ambition have secured (to date) £256400 of additional funding to support activities around South Queensferry which put the town on the global map during the 2014 Festival.

Visit Queenferry Ambition’s website


Essential Edinburgh - Saving Money Through Collective Working

With the introduction of new waste regulations in January 2014, Essential Edinburgh implemented a local procurement cost saving project across the whole of the business improvement district area.

Partnering with Changeworks Recycling, following a competitive tender process, the aim is to provide an exceptional recycling and waste service for levy payers, reducing waste, carbon and the cost of waste to the businesses.

Changeworks Recycling also offer to collect waste bags from inside the business premises so as to reduce litter and unsightly waste bags from the streets. Working collectively some 170 businesses have saved over £205K on their waste costs.

Visit Essential Edinburgh’s website


Enterprising Bathgate - Property Improvement Projects 

Enterprising Bathgate have for a number of years delivered shopfront, property, or what they now call, premises improvement projects.

The aim of the premises improvement scheme is to help businesses plan a series of improvements to their premises, as well as helping new businesses to set up, whilst improving the overall look of the town centre.

This project has run throughout the first term of Enterprising Bathgate and will continue through their second term until 2018.

Qualifying improvements include new signage, replacing doors and windows, painting frontages, installing heating, toilet or staff facilities, electrical improvements, replacement of ceilings and lighting and new flooring.

More than 100 businesses registered to take part in the 2013 project with the new scheme opening in March 2014.

Visit Enterprising Bathgate’s website 


See more about different BID Models: 


Tourism & Visitor BIDs (TBIDs)  -  Business Parks and Industrial Estates  -  Rural Area BIDs  -  Food and Drink BIDs