Gavin Stewart: Keeping Brighton brilliant

Gavin Stewart
Gavin Stewart

To dip your toe in the warm waters of Brighton and Hove is to experience the full gamut of the experiences of life.

Whatever you’re in to, you’ll probably find it in Brighton and Hove. That eclecticism is mirrored in the thrilling array of shops, bars restaurants and clubs, and at the heart of the city centre sits Brilliant Brighton – the city’s Business Improvement District (BID).

With a remit to deliver a ‘thriving, safe, clean and vibrant city centre that residents and visitors want to come back to time and time again’ Brilliant Brighton is funded by 517 city centre businesses who invest nearly £2m over five years to improve the city centre for everyone.

If you’ve ever wondered who pays for the city centre Christmas lights every year, or who coordinates the annual summer array of hanging baskets and bunting then here’s your answer. On top of that, Brilliant Brighton also works with the city’s schools to run the popular yearly banner competition which sees children’s artwork displayed along Western Road and North Street throughout the summer months.

Brilliant Brighton also delivers the City Centre Ambassador scheme. The project has already returned well over £150,000 of stolen goods back to independent businesses, helping to ensure that our vibrant and unique mix of shops can continue to enthrall and excite visitors and locals alike.

And keeping everyone up to date with what’s happening, Brilliant Brighton also runs a range of online activities to support the businesses in the city centre with Twitter, Facebook and the Brilliant Brighton website – hosting daily listings and news, events, special offers, store launches and much more.

But how did Brilliant Brighton get here in the first place and what is a Business Improvement District or BID? Hailing from the US BIDs are a vehicle for businesses to come together to address issues that they feel collectively, could improve their trading environment. Together, they decide on a range of projects and through an independent vote, they agree to pay an additional levy on top of their business rates to fund those proposals. Back in March 2016, 74 per cent of the businesses that voted, voted in favour of the current range of projects. The current BID will last for another four years until it will come up for renewal. At that point the businesses have an opportunity to carry on, change the projects or disband completely. There is also the option for more businesses to join to BID and potentially to increase the range of services on offer.

In the UK, there are well over 200 BIDs from tiny towns to central London. The projects range from street cleansing to delivering a range of public services but what each of them has in common is that they are driven entirely by private businesses for the benefit of everyone.

So next time you buy your coffee on the way to work or pick up that perfect gift from that great little independent boutique, just remember that you are truly helping our businesses to keep that original Brighton vibe alive and kicking.

For more on Brilliant Brighton, visit: www.brilliantbrighton.com

Gavin Stewart is the chief executive of Brilliant Brighton.