In response to the challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, Scotland’s Improvement Districts has issued a letter of support and an advice note to all improvement districts (including Business Improvement Districts) in Scotland.
The advice note can be viewed here, and please see a message from Phil Prentice, National Programme Director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts, below.
I am writing to you during a very difficult time for us all. The recent announcements by UK and Scottish Governments detailing their advice on how our country should respond to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus will mean really challenging times ahead for your members. Our town centres will face extreme pressures more so than many other areas of the economy.
This challenge will require us to pull together on a local level and think creatively about how we can support our town centres and the people who run or work in local businesses in the context of the required social distancing.
Naturally, many small businesses may find it difficult to pay, or question the value of paying their levy to Business Improvement Districts during this time. You and I know the value that Improvement Districts bring to their members, to the local community and the local economy. However, it will be particularly important for BIDs to think creatively about how they support their members and provide this value during this unprecedented situation.
It won’t be easy, but by working together we can do it.
There are already many projects around Scotland using the power of creativity and teamwork to think of innovative ways to continue providing a service to local businesses. As such, we have developed some advice and ideas to support you to continue to provide the services that your members need more than ever during this difficult phase.
We have also agreed an approach with the Scottish Government in relation to BIDs in the middle of the ballot process presently, which will allow them to suspend their processes for a period of time. However, some of you have indicated a willingness to continue business planning and programme development whilst scaling back, and this approach is also fine.
At Scotland’s Improvement Districts and Scotland’s Towns Partnership, we will be doing everything we can to support you. We will continue to speak to the Government to understand all of the measures available for supporting business locally, provide any additional training resources and advice you think would be useful and be at the end of the phone if you need to speak with us.
We will also be doing all we can to ensure the general public is fully aware of the hardship that many local town centres will face, and ask them to do the best they can to support local businesses within the parameters of the public health advice issued by the Scottish and UK Government.
The next few weeks and months will be difficult, and we will all need to adapt, but we will be here with you every step of the way.
Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Programme Director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts