BUSINESSES will soon be asked to lend their support to a key organisation in as it seeks to be at the forefront of York's recovery.

The York Business Improvement District (BID) is nearing the end of its five-year term, and will be holding a ballot to secure its renewal.

As the city goes into 2021 on an unsteady footing, with a new lockdown threatening livelihoods, the BID team wants to play a key part in York's survival and revival post-Covid-19.

It is asking York businesses to support them to secure a further five years of investment, business support and strong delivery.

York Press:

Andrew Lowson, second from right, and members of The York BID team.

So just what is The York BID?

A BID is a Business Improvement District, with about 300 operating in UK towns and cities. They are voted in by businesses; in York’s case by a 76 per cent majority in 2015.

It is an independent organisation, working for the collective benefit of businesses in its area. Sometimes confused with City of York Council or Make It York, they are not part of the local authority – schemes and programmes are in addition to services provided by the council though they do collaborate on certain projects.

The BID is funded by a levy from businesses which qualify within the BID area, which encompasses the city centre. The fund is spent on delivering improvements to the centre of York in line with a business plan, written after consultation with the levy-paying businesses.

BIDs operate in five-year terms. York BID’s first term ends on March 31. To continue, the BID must secure a renewal mandate from its levy-paying businesses by holding a renewal ballot in February.

So, just what has the BID achieved?

Businesses told the BID they had four key areas which required improvement, namely appearance, safety and security, events and festivals, and business support

All of the BID’s programmes have been developed to address these areas.

In terms of appearance, the rapid response and deep cleaning teams work seven days a week to keep the city looking its best. The team quickly blasts away unsightly mess and graffiti.

The BID has also worked with York council on updating signage in the city, supported street art, installed floral displays, and improve the appearance of vacant retail units.

With a focus on safety and security, the BID street rangers are the eyes and ears of the city. Rangers deter anti-social behaviour and deal with low-level crime as well as providing a friendly presence, assisting workers, visitors, and residents in York.

To boost events and festivals, the BID helped transform the city during the darker months with lights and displays.

York Press:

The Mad Hatter, as part of a display in York's former Debenhams, conjured up by the York BID Picture: Jonathan Allison, Press Camera Club

Their investment also ensures popular events take place throughout the year, including Restaurant Week, Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge, York Ice Trail, Bloom!, Yorkshire Day, York Food & Drink Festival, York Fashion Week, Fossgate Festival as well as York Residents Festival.

Meanwhile, the York Gift Card Scheme locks in support for local businesses by encouraging people to visit the city centre. More than 300 York businesses participate in the scheme, including fashion and retail stores, bars, cafes, restaurants, theatres, museums, and galleries. The BID also supports Indie York and other trade associations.

Its response to Covid included initiatives to support businesses, such as installing a tipi-style tent on College Green to help hospitality operators in Goodramgate. The site was fully managed and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

York Press:

York BID's tipi helped hospitality businesses in the pandemic. Picture: Vicky Gray, Camera Club

They also led the City Host programme to offer a friendly advice service as the first lockdown ended, while 17 hand sanitiser stations were placed across the city. The BID also arranged signs for new pedestrian zones and assisted businesses in applying for pavement café licenses.

This is a snapshot of the programmes undertaken by the BID which range from street art to festivals, with the aim of enhancing the city centre for businesses, residents, and visitors.

The BID now needs York businesses to support them in their ballot to secure a further five years. For details on the BID and renewal ballot visit