Frequently Asked Questions

During May 2019 a ballot was held to decide whether Southport BID continued for a second five year term, 2019 – 2024. 58% of businesses voted in favour.  Please view the official results of the count here.

Please also find answers to our most commonly asked questions. If you cant find the answer you are looking for here, or would like to discus any issue in more depth, please contact us.

What is a BID?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a designated zone in which businesses benefit from a wide range of additional services over and above those funded through the standard commercial rates and council services.

BIDs have been operating in the UK for over 10 years and there are now over 250 in towns and cities throughout the country, including Liverpool, Manchester, Blackburn, Brighton and Blackpool.

Constituted by UK law in 2004, a BID is a powerful, independent voice representing the interests of a varied community of organisations, committed to working together to ensure that the area continues to progress whilst providing the best possible trading and working environment for its occupiers.

These extra benefits are aimed at vastly improving the quality of the area for the businesses, visitors and employees within it as well as improving attractiveness to new investors. This can include physical projects such as better lighting and street cleaning as well as crime reduction programmes, events, additional marketing, networking and inward investment initiatives.

Every five years businesses in the designated area vote for the continuation of the BID and if they vote yes, any occupiers within the BID become members for the duration of the next 5 year term. Members within the area pay a levy based 1.5% of their rateable value to contribute towards these benefits and improvements.

What are the objectives of Southport BID?

To drive footfall and attract new visitors by enhancing the events programme and providing more co-ordinated marketing

To improve the appearance of Southport through a series of projects from planting to street cleansing and more

To make Southport safer for visitors and businesses

To attract more investment to the town

To give direct support to Southport’s businesses to help them prosper

To represent the needs and views of the Business community to the local authority and other statutory agencies and organisations

Who runs Southport BID?

Southport BID is an independent, business led company run by an operational team which is employed by a Board of Directors who themselves are chosen to represent the local business community. The Board of Directors are democratically elected from nominated members of the local business community at the BIDs Annual General Meeting. Levy payers much register themselves to be eligible to vote or nominate

What has Southport BID been responsible for?

Examples of the projects Southport BID has led include adding two major new town centre events to the Southport calendar, with Southport Halloween Festival and the Christmas Switch On, both seeing thousands come to the town centre.  It also lead funds and supports the Southport Arts Festival.

The BID is also responsible for all Christmas decorations and lights in the town centre along with the half a million decorative lights along Lord Street.  The BID plants over 5,000 flowers throughout the town centre and has deep cleaned over 30,000 square feet of pavements.

Southport BID administers the Southport Business Against Crime network and works extremely closely with Merseyside Police to reduce crime against businesses and to make the town centre safer for visitors.

You can find more up to the minute information on projects on our news feed, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linked In or by viewing our latest newsletters or annual report.  For direct questions please feel free to call us on 01704 538382

Why is there a BID and how was it voted in?

Southport BID came into existence in November 2014 following a ballot of all the town centre businesses included in the proposal. Over 900 business owners and property owners were given the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like to see a Business Improvement District established.

The vote secured a five year term for the BID. The first term ends in October 2019 and a second vote was held in the May 2019.  58% of businesses voted in favour of a second term, which now officially begins on the 1st November 2019 and will run until the 31st October 2024.

What are the common myths about BIDs and what is the truth?

There are over 300 British BID’s in most towns and cities including Preston, Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool.  There are also two National bodies monitoring BIDs – British BIDs and The BID Foundation.  The BID Foundation forms part of the Institute of Place Management and works on ensuring consistency and best practice in BIDs and helps lobby Government on National issues facing towns and high streets.  Southport BID is a member of both organisations along with the Association of Town Centre Managers.

Please read some myth busting around common beliefs about BIDs here

How do we know if Southport BID is successful?

All BID activity is actively monitored.  All work undertaken is assessed using a combination of independent footfall reports, business performance, new investment levels, crime statsitics, unit occupation percentage.  In addition to this visitor perception surveys are carried out and active consultation is ongoing to consult with BID members and stakeholders to assess the performance and efficiency of programmes.

When should the BID levy be paid?

The BID levy is charged annually for a term starting on the 1stNovember. BID Levy Bills will be issued automatically before this date and, due to national legislation, are issued and collected on our behalf by Sefton Council rates department.

Any business who cannot afford to pay the levy, has closed, or wishes to discus payments or queries on payments, please contact the Non Domestic rates team on 0151 934 4360 during the following times: Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm. It is important you do not ignore the notices you have been sent as you may incur further costs.  For questions regarding the BID and the work it does please call the team on 01704 538382, we will do all we can to resolve disputes and support business owners.

Can I opt out of paying?

The way that BIDs are established nationally means that if a town or city makes a yes vote for a BID then businesses in the area who meet the criteria are automatically members until the next re-ballot. Being a member means that the levy must be paid and there is no option to opt out.

If you would like to discuss this further please email or call the BID office at any time. The team would be happy to explain the system in more detail – 01704 538382

I am not in the BID area but would like to be involved and join?

Voluntary membership of Southport BID is open to all businesses outside of the core BID area that pay nondomestic (business) rates.

Businesses or organisations wishing to become members of the BID voluntarily are invited to make an application for membership by contacting the office. Your annual fee will be calculated based on your rateable value and you will be able to benefit from any applicable services.

Why do my bills come from Sefton Council?

Nationally set legislation around how Business Improvement Districts are governed lays out that all levies should be collected for local BIDs through the appropriate Council’s rates department. This ensures all collections are transparently managed.

All monies collected, after a small collection fee, are transferred to the BID and not retained by the council. The money is managed by the BID on behalf of the businesses and is not an additional tax.

Which businesses are eligible to pay the BID bill?

The BID levy is based on rateable value, which is how all BIDs across the country operate.  For the next proposed term in Southport the threshold has been raised to £7,000.  Put simply, this means any business with a rateable value of £6,999 or less will no longer be liable to pay the BID levy.

Please visit the VOA website to check your current rateable value.

The new BID term will include the area’s commercial sector businesses, which were not part of the 2014-2019 term.  This addition will strengthen the representation of the BID and its influence.

Area covered by the BID

The BID levy is based on rateable value, which is how all BIDs across the country operate.  For the current term, the threshold has been raised to £7,000.  Put simply, this means any business with a rateable value of £6,999 or less is no longer be liable to pay the BID levy.


Please visit the VOA website to check your current rateable value.


The new BID term for 2019 – 2024 includes the area’s commercial sector businesses, which were not part of the 2014-2019 term.  This addition will strengthen the representation of the BID and its influence.