Birmingham showcases improvement projects from towns and cities across the country

17 June 2019

Case studies of transformative town and city centre improvement projects from across the UK were showcased at an event in Birmingham last week.

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) from all over the country converged on the city centre for The BID Foundation’s Annual BID Showcase, which took place in the Council House on Thursday, June 13. Fifty five BIDs established from across the UK attended Thursday’s Annual Showcase, which also saw the BID Foundation celebrate the first anniversary of its establishment as the industry body for Business Improvement Districts.

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, spoke at the event, which was hosted by Colmore Business District, the BID responsible for promoting and improving Birmingham’s thriving commercial quarter. Councillor Ward spoke highly of the work of BIDs and of the positive role they play in bringing together local authorities, businesses and third sector bodies to boost their surroundings. He described BIDs as “undoubtedly a force for good.”

There was a strong regional focus to the event as well, with presentations from Colmore, Coventry and Shrewsbury BIDs. Michele Wilby, Executive Director of Colmore Business District and member of the BID Foundation Council talked about the challenges and ultimate success of the Colmore Square public realm scheme, which saw the revitalisation of a neglected and underused area within the District and its transformation into an attractive and accessible social space. The final stage of the project – the installation of a digital arts screen at the western end of the Square – is currently underway.

Trish Willetts of Coventry BID spoke of its role in helping Coventry secure the tile of UK City of Culture 2021 and its contribution to the wider programme of regeneration in the city. Seb Slater of Shrewsbury BID discussed its vision for the future economic and physical redevelopment of the town – its Big Town Plan, which it produced  in partnership with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council.

Summarising the Annual Showcase, Michele Wilby praised the breadth and diversity of the case studies highlighted at the event –  which including the above also ranged from projects to tackle anti-social behaviour to initiatives addressing skills shortages and cultural offerings – and suggested that they were testament to the prominent role that BIDs are now playing in towns and cities within the UK.

Citing Colmore Business District as an example of the growing influence and ambition of BIDs, Michele explained that “every time we’ve reached the bar we’ve raised the bar.” Such confidence is well founded – the ballot results for Colmore BID’s third term, which commenced in April 2019, were amongst the best in the country.

The next major event in Colmore BID’s calendar is the Colmore Food Festival. The celebrated annual event, now in its ninth year, is the Midlands’ biggest free-to-enter food and drink festival and showcases the finest food, drink and hospitality venues from the area. This year’s Colmore Food Festival takes place in Victoria Square, Birmingham on Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6.