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City centre BID has already delivered and must decide now on future plans

What does a Business Improvement District actually deliver? It’s a question worth pondering, immersed as we are in the process to decide if Edinburgh city centre’s BID will carry on for another five years.

Answering it is a bit like deciding on the length of a piece of string. What does it deliver? – it really depends on what you want it to do, and the perspective you view it from.

However, there is no doubt that one, general answer that can undeniably be supported by evidence is – a lot.

In Edinburgh city centre, we’ve seen our retail and hospitality sectors significantly outperform the Scottish and UK markets generally, and we’ve also seen our footfall strengthen as many other areas have gone down. All good in terms of helping our businesses thrive, creating jobs and opportunities.

But there have been many other successes – the city centre is safer, cleaner, more welcoming, easier to navigate, and livelier than other parts of the city.

Don’t take our word for it, that’s the view of surveyed visitors to the city centre.

What’s the evidence?:



We’ve also been integral to bringing the city’s festivals right into the heart of the Capital, again helping drive footfall and ambience at the vital summer and Christmas trading periods, enhancing the attraction of the area, and creating an unmatched atmosphere.

All in all, plenty to be proud of as our member businesses have put their money into their city, investing more than £1 million a year into making the city centre even more successful.

However, while we should be proud of the achievements to date, we absolutely cannot afford to become complacent. That is why we consulted widely with businesses over a two year period, listened to what they had to say, and produced a new business plan for the next five years – one we think will build on the successes to date and help tackle one or two key business and social issues.

The cornerstones of our new business plan are:

In addition, we will of course continue to work across a number of partnerships developed over recent years to deliver in all of the areas we currently work in.

Our new plan will enhance the delivery of our key core services whilst evolving to address some key issues, such as the above, which our members have asked us to tackle. Over the next few weeks we will see how our members have voted. It’s an opportunity for them to reaffirm their commitment to their city centre. And we all benefit from that commitment.

Roddy Smith, Chief Executive of Essential Edinburgh