Businesses Launch 'BID' to Improve Sunderland City Centre Economy

22 February 2013

Leading Sunderland businesses are launching proposals to introduce a Business Improvement District (BID) in Sunderland City Centre, in a drive to improve the local economy.  The launch event is being hosted by Sunderland Minster on Tuesday 26th February from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

The Sunderland City Centre BID proposal was initiated by Sunderland Business Ltd.  This not-for-profit company was founded, and is now led, by leading City businesses and organisations who want to help tackle some of the challenges facing the City and create positive opportunities for local businesses.

The BID proposals have been welcomed by City Centre businesses. Harry Collinson, owner of Collinsons Jewellers, is also Chairman of the Sunderland City Centre Traders Association (SCCTA) and a passionate supporter of the BID: “I am very, very proud of my City, but it could be even better. Making improvements shouldn’t just be down to the Council or individual groups – it’s down to all of us. Which is why the BID proposal is such a good one – everyone is contributing both money and ideas. The BID gives us a chance to move the City forward. I urge anyone within the BID area to vote yes when they get the chance to do so.”

Priorities for the Sunderland City Centre BID are:

A cleaner, greener and safer City Centre
A busier City Centre, with increased footfall
A more vibrant evening economy, attracting more people between 5 – 10pm
Events, festivals, markets and celebrations
Improved marketing and promotion
Better signage, access and information for visitors
A leadership voice for City Centre businesses
These initiatives will help inject added vitality to the City economy while other plans to transform the physical look and feel of the city centre take shape.

Andy Bradley, Chair of the BID Steering Board and Centre Director of the Bridges Shopping Centre, said: “Businesses in the City Centre are keen to attract more visitors and we need to do more to encourage people to stay longer and spend more while they are here. We need to improve visitors’ experience whether they shop with us, spend time eating and drinking in the city or meet with City Centre businesses.  A BID would help us to shout louder about our City Centre success stories and create a safe and secure environment for people who are enjoying an evening out in our restaurants, clubs, theatre or cinema.”

Gary Hutchinson, Chair of Sunderland Business Ltd and Chairman of NECC Sunderland, said: “The group identified a BID as an ideal initiative to revitalise Sunderland City Centre.  This year is Sunderland’s 21st anniversary of becoming a City – a yes vote for the BID would signal our ‘coming of age’ and help the City Centre fulfil its potential. A successful BID for Sunderland could see more than £2.7 million invested in the City Centre over the next five years.”

Sunderland Business Ltd created a BID Steering Board which has been consulting with City Centre businesses, Sunderland City Traders’ Association, Sunderland City Council, MPs, Northumbria Police, Pubwatch, Taxi drivers, Street Pastors, Landlords, Church representatives and the professional services sector.

The Sunderland BID would be funded by a 1.5% levy on the rateable value of those eligible businesses located within the BID area.  It is proposed that businesses with a rateable value below £15,000 will be exempt from paying the levy although they will benefit from the improvements if a Yes vote is secured. If the business rate is £15,000 – the entry threshold for paying the levy – the cost will be £225 a year or £18.75 per month. The Sunderland BID is proposing a five-year term for the BID, with a further ballot in 2018.

If the ballot, planned for Summer 2013, is successful it is expected that a BID company would be set up and running by Autumn 2013.

A dedicated BID Sunderland website,, will be live from 26th February and businesses can download the Consultation Prospectus and keep up to date with the latest news.