IN THE BEGINNING
The origins of the Blue Bermondsey BID began with the work of voluntary representatives from local business who got together in the early 1990s as the Blue Market Traders Forum an informal group who continually lobbied local Councillors and Southwark Council on behalf of local businesses to improve the area, which had become run down and lacking investment. These pioneering efforts got the ball rolling, with the Market place getting a facelift and many small community events being established.
In February 2008 The Blue Market Traders Forum became an officially constituted group as the Blue Bermondsey Business Association (BBBA), whose efforts took a more pro-active role on many initiatives, most notably securing £700,000 funding into the High St, forming steering groups, engaging and canvassing businesses and local residents, resulting in the major regeneration works of the Market place, shop front improvements, restructuring of Southwark Park Rd to bring more flexibility to the on road parking with the addition of loading bays and of course the ICONIC Bermondsey Lion artwork that has symbolised the resurgence of the community.
With the onset of the credit crunch era, fundings for BBBA initiatives were becoming increasingly difficult to secure and other avenues needed to be explored to sustain the work of the BBBA which led to the discovery of Business Improvement Districts and meetings were held with many leading organisations and key people within the BID community and the BBBA began to formulate a plan to explore the idea of a BID for the Blue.
The BBBA became involved and active contributors to the BID Cluster Study, a report commissioned by Southwark Council to assess smaller locations across the borough, which could feasibly adopt the BID model. The findings of the study concluded that because of its strong business links, there was sufficient interest in a BID for the Blue Bermondsey area. Based on this evidence the BBBA began to explore the possibility further.
BBBA meet with Cllr Fiona Colley (Lead Member for Corporate Strategy and Regeneration) regarding the formation of a BID, Cllr Colley reports that the Council would be supportive. After many ongoing meetings and discussions with the Council and relevant bodies the BBBA considered it viable to develope its plans for a BID and established a timetable and budget for a possible BID ballot.
Extensive research by the BBBA follows and in June BBBA is successful in securing £30,000.00 in funding from the Councils Community Restoration Fund to develop the BID initiative further and countless meetings and more scoping work was undertaken to identify a possible BID area that could defined as the Blue Bermondsey and it’s boundaries.
The Blue Bermondsey Business Association BID Steering Group is formally constituted to continue research and develope formal BID proposal documents and BID arrangements
BID specialists, The Means are engaged to support the process of establishing a BID and to help shape a formal BID Proposal. Consultation was ongoing with the Council and relevant bodies to access data and information to ensure the plans complement and enhance existing council strategy and policy, particularly those relating to the environment, planning and economic well-being.
BBBA commission a business survey to gauge possible interest in a BID. 100 businesses are engaged with 88% in favour. Survey also indicates that community safety, public realm, recruitment, procurement, and marketing of the area were issues of concern to businesses. A range of areas are identified as sufficiently covering the key business hubs and a definitive BID area is agreed and a database of businesses compiled.
BID modelling is completed and after over three years of thorough research and consultation the findings and other relevant data were forwarded to the council for consideration. Council approval given.
To comply with Government BID Regulations Act 2004, BBBA research, findings and Notice of intention to request a ballot are sent to Southwark Council and secretary of state for Communities and Local Government, requesting permission to hold a ballot.
BID proposal circulated to eligible businesses, BID ballot campaign launch event held in conjunction with Blue Bermondsey Arts Week at TriSpace gallery in the Biscuit Factory
Official 28 day BID Ballot begins and ballot papers are sent to all eligible businesses to vote yes or no to the proposals
Ballot result declared on 4th July with 89% of votes cast, voting yes for the Blue Bermondsey Business Improvement District.
Blue Bermondsey now has a flagship organisation dedicated to representing member businesses.