Street Rangers among plans for city centre as Sunderland BID bosses set out their vision for next five years

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID
Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID
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Sunderland BID bosses have unveiled their vision of the future as they look to persuade businesses to give them another five years.

The Business Improvement District’s plan was laid out at a meeting in High Street West last night.

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. From left Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair, Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID and guest speaker Paul Clements

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. From left Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair, Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID and guest speaker Paul Clements

BIDs run for five years, and Sunderland’s current scheme is due to expire at the end of March.

If renewed, the BID will be funded by a levy on city centre businesses with a rateable value of £15,000.

Only businesses that will be subject to the levy are eligible to vote and crucially, the scheme must win the support not only of the majority of businesses voting, but also a majority of their rateable value.

Since 2014, the BID has invested more than £3million in the city centre and funded a range of activities and projects including the Christmas programme and Euro 2018 FanZones.

The past five years have been very exciting but they have also been a learning curve.

Sharon Appleby

It has not all been plain sailing, however.

Former Castle Morpeth Borough Council boss Ken Dunbar was appointed as BID chief executive in January 2014, only to be made redundant less than three years later as part of a restructure, which eventually saw BID director Sharon Appleby appointed as Head of Business Operations.

She said the continued support of businesses was crucial to the project’s success: “The past five years have been very exciting but they have also been a learning curve.

“Out of experience comes strength and we have listened to what our levy payers have had to say and that has allowed us to create a strong vision for the city centre.

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan.  Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair

“The BID would not have had the successes it has had to date without the people who have come on this journey with us.

“The business owners, the stakeholders, the key partners – everyone has had their part to play and hopefully will continue to work with us.”

The BID board has identified three priorities – A City To Be Proud Of, Promoting Our City and Working Together – and set out measures to address them.

These included recruiting Street Rangers, working with police and businesses to reduce antisocial behaviour; spotlighting different business sectors; introducing a ‘Friends of the BID’ scheme to harness support from non-levy payers and those outside the BID area, and promoting easy access to the city.

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Kam Chera,  Funky Indian and Geoff Thompson, Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Sunderland

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Kam Chera, Funky Indian and Geoff Thompson, Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Sunderland

Sunderland City Council will send out ballot papers at the end of October and a postal vote will run from November 1 to 28.

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan.  Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Alan Patchett, Sunderland BID Chair

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID

Sunderland Business Improvement District new five year plan. Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID