This week, London Heritage Quarter was delighted to support BusinessLDN’s London BIDs Summit – the first since 2019 – at BT’s offices in the Aldgate Connect BID footprint.
In the four years since the last summit, London has faced unprecedented change. The capital has continued to deal with the Brexit fallout, the COVID-19 recovery, a cost-of-living crisis and inflationary pressures which have affected a number of the businesses in the areas London HQ supports, and across London and the country as a whole.
With BIDs across the UK facing similar challenges, the London BIDs Summit was the perfect opportunity for stakeholders from the private and public sectors, and representing the breadth of London’s industry, to come together to take stock of the challenges many of us are facing, and to discuss what is needed to deliver a more positive future for our capital. Working in partnership to face our issues together, sharing best practice and supporting each other have long been key principles of the BID community.
It was great to hear policymakers talking up the impact of BIDs, which Minister for London, Paul Scully MP, noted is helping London’s high streets ‘rise to the challenges’ they face, amongst other things. Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy London Mayor for Business, even said he would happily wear an ‘I Love BIDs’ t‑shirt if he had the chance!
All the speakers agreed, however, that we all need to foster closer collaboration to address some of the big issues facing the capital. The “Levelling Up” and localism agenda, coined by the Conservatives but at the heart of Labour’s offer to communities, has been touted as pitting London against the rest of the country. It was encouraging, then, to hear Paul Scully refute this, arguing that “Levelling up means supporting people and places wherever inequality rears its head.” Certainly, Primera – and our colleagues across the sector – wants to create more opportunities to partner with other UK cities and commercial centres in a way that benefits us all – rather than seeing each other as competition.
With public finances undergoing significant pressure, collaboration between the government and business improvement districts is more important now than ever. London BIDs alone now raise about £60m per year in levy income (with Primera’s BIDs, including London HQ, accounting for 33% of the levy generated in Greater London), and act as the custodians of the footprints that we represent. In the UK as a whole, more than 330 BIDs generate over £150m every year.
It is clear the impact BIDs are having across the capital and how much more we can achieve by working together. The London BIDs Summit was a fantastic opportunity to come together to share success stories, best practice and discuss a way forward for London and, at London HQ and Primera, we look forward to working closely with the rest of the London and UKBID sector to support our country’s recovery and kickstart growth for in our local communities.