The deadline has passed, the votes have all been counted, and today, the fate of Northern Ireland’s first Business Improvement District’s (BID’s) second term has been decided…
And…. It’s a resounding YES!
Ballymena businesses and organisations have once again voted in favour of retaining the Ballymena BID for a further 5-year term.
The support for Ballymena BID will see a direct investment of over £1M in Ballymena town centre which will double as part of a post-COVID, economic recovery strategy for the town. The BID will also attract additional funding to help support local businesses.
The BID board, most of whom operate a business in the town, will now set to work executing their recently published Business Plan and working towards re-establishing Ballymena as Northern Ireland’s premier retail and hospitality destination of choice.
Plans for distribution of the £1M investment, over the five-year period, will commence from 1st April 2021. 75 per cent of the money will be allocated towards marketing and advertising Ballymena across Northern Ireland. 15 per cent will go toward making the town a safer, cleaner and more welcoming place for all. The remaining 10 per cent will go towards additional business support.
Ballot results released by the independent scrutineer, Civica Election Services, revealed that 80% of all those who voted are in favour of the BID being returned for a second term. In order for the BID to be successful, a second trigger ‘majority by rateable value’ was also required and this was achieved with 91% of those who voted. In Northern Ireland you also have a minimum turnout level of 25% by number and rateable value which was achieved.
Ballymena was the first BID to be established in Northern Ireland in 2015. BIDs are compelled to go to ballot every five years in order to continue. The Ballymena BID reballot was delayed due to the COVID pandemic.
Mayor of Ballymena, Councillor Peter Johnston was first to welcome the news, he said: I’m delighted that BID will continue to benefit our local business people for at least another five years. The last twelve months have been incredibly challenging for our local businesses but we are starting to see signs that better times are coming.
“This borough prides itself on the resilience of its business community. BID is another string to our bow which has already seen cooperative working to boost both the tourism and manufacturing sectors through special taskforces set up. Special thanks go to all the local business community in the Ballymena area for taking the time to vote, the Chamber of Commerce and the chair of Mid and East Antrim’s Tourism and Hospitality Taskforce Colin Johnston, MD at Galgorm Collection and Mid and East Antrim’ Manufacturing Taskforce, Wrightbus’ Graham Whitehurst MBE. “As Mid and East Antrim and Northern Ireland as a whole, prepares to emerge from a third Covid-19 lockdown and adapt to ever-evolving restrictions, BID will be a key player in the recovery of our much loved town centre in Ballymena and I look forward to seeing the results.”
Stephen Reynolds, Chair of Ballymena BID Board, said “I am delighted that my fellow traders in Ballymena have voted in favour of returning the BID for a second term. It makes sense. As a local trader of 35 years, I have been a supporter of the BID concept since the outset. I believe that the BID will play a vital role in the roadmap to recovery for Ballymena going forward .”
Anne Donaghy, OBE, CEO of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “It’s great to see local business people get behind this innovative way of working by voting to retain the BID. Together through pulled resources, funding and expertise we can achieve far more, and working collaboratively to drive forward will be more important now than ever as we pave the path of recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.”
Emma McCrea, Ballymena BID Manager added: “I am absolutely delighted that our businesses have made their voice heard and voted Yes.
“What this now does is open up a door to a huge opportunity for Ballymena to come back from this difficult year fighting, and we will continue to do everything we can within our power to help them in their recovery and regrowth.
“I now look forward to getting to working in partnership with the owners and staff to implement our business plan to ensure that we get the very best out of this fantastic opportunity we have to make Ballymena great again.”