Our Colchester

Our Colchester business improvement district (BID).

Our Colchester Business Improvement District (BID) is one of over 32O BIDs across the UK. It is an organisation that since 2018 has represented more than 400 businesses across Colchester city centre.

By building relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders across the City Centre, the team and Board of Directors have worked hard to support the changing shape of the City Centre for businesses, visitors, residents and students alike.

Our projects over the next five years will be targeted towards making Colchester a better place to work, live and visit. We will add value through focusing on four strategic pillars -  Memorable City, A Forward-Thinking city, A Safe and Welcoming City and a Connected City.


Together, with collaborative working, we can achieve greater things.

2023-2028 BUSINESS PLAN OUT NOW

Our Colchester BID have launched the new business plan detailing key deliverables over the next 5 years. This includes the pillars of:

A Memorable City: 

Delivering exciting, innovative, and experienced-driven projects and events that make our visitors experience memorable. Through enhanced greening of City Centre spaces to large-scale events that bring our residents, workers, and visitors to the heart of Colchester.

A Forward-thinking City: 

We will strive to enable innovation and a forward-thinking approach through well-engaged and researched visions and strategy to be ahead of the curve in place-making changes. Although it is important to mange short-term interventions, we must ensure we are always working towards an exciting future.

A Safe and Welcoming City: 

Our guests first impressions are everything. From enabling the brilliant basics to ensuring that every visit is a safe one, we will invest in reducing, challenging, and raising awareness of crime and anti-social behaviour to protect our businesses, visitors and residents through the day and night.

A Connected City: 

Through a collaborative approach with our partners and businesses, we will delivering innovative campaigns, activations, and experiences to promote Colchester City Centre. Celebrating our USP’s whilst driving Colchester as the leisure, tourism, and employment leader in the region.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE 2023-2028 BUSINESS PLAN

 

Hear from City Centre businesses:

Let's Glow Event - Part of the BIDs Christmas In Colchester

THE BIDS IMPACT

The Our Colchester BID team have worked over the last 5 years to ensure a strong delivery of projects and business support for the city centre.

Key benefits of the BID:

  • Covid-19 support. During the unprecedented time of the Covid-19 Panedemic, with lockdowns and restrictions, Our Colchester BID acted as a key conduit between the City Centre businesses and the Councils grant team. Securing thousands of pounds in additional grant support that businesses otherwise would not have received.
  • Consumer marketing. Launched in 2019 the InColchester consumer brand has gone from strength to strength. With an ever growing, engaged, and local, audience on social media and on average 25,000 visitors to the website each month. InColchester has become a key tool to market the city centre as a destination for visitors.
  • Crime and Safety. Our Colchester BID submitted the funding application for the City Centre as part of the larger Safer Streets 4 Funding application, securing over half a million pounds investment for the City Centre. The BID are leading on many safety projects including Ask for Angela, Best Bar None, Vulnerability and Safety training for licensed premises, the employment of a Business Crime Liaison Officer and much more.
  • Strategic sector specific plans. Working with key stakeholders the BID has produced 3 sector specific strategic papers including in-depth research and achievable actions for each sector. The Indie Vision, the Leisure Recovery Strategy, and the Retail Strategy (soon to be released).
  • Christmas in Colchester. The BID deliver the Christmas light switch on event in the City centre, a dedicated marketing campaign, vacant unit installations, entertainment, and the Late Wednesdays shopping event. The 2022 Festive Light Parade saw over 10,000 visitors to the city centre, and over half a million views of the Christmas Campaign video.

What will happen if the BID isn't voted back in for another term?

Businesses will lose their say on the direction of the city centre without the BID being able to act as a combined voice for all.

A negative view from investors, almost all major towns and cities have a BID. The absence of a BID will be noted by potential investors and may sway their decision.

InColchester will cease operating, losing a key promoter for the City Centre.

Place making installations including the high street parklets and additional 'indie route' lighting will be removed. Cleaner and Greener initiatives, including the year round City Centre planting will cease.

The loss of large annual events such as the Christmas in Colchester light switch on, Colchester Business Awards, Colchester Garden Festival. Events earmarked as annual occurrences (such as the Colchester Soapbox Rally) will not be repeated. Resulting in the loss of footfall in the 10's of thousands.

Loss of support on all key City Centre strategies, including nighttime economy safety and employment.

Loss of funding for businesses and organisations bringing events and initiatives to the City Centre.

Loss of the Our Colchester Ambassadors who work diligently to discourage antisocial behaviour and begging in the City Centre, perform regular litter picks, assisting businesses with urgent issues, and acting as a warm and welcoming presence for visitors.

IN COLCHESTER BRAND 

www.incolchester.co.uk

InColchester is the consumer brand run by Our Colchester BID driving tourism and interest into the City Centre. The InColchester website is THE place to find out what is happening in the city centre with a full events page, a comprehensive directory of City Centre businesses, offers page and blogs. The InColchester website is currently seeing record numbers and is consistently outperforming other local destination websites in the country. The InColchester social media channels have over 10,000 followers the majority of which are highly engaged and local to the area. 

 

Key Stats 

Over 620k page views since its formation 

Over 1.8 Million impressions through our Christmas videos in 2021 and 2022. 

Over 10,800 followers on our social media channels 

Over 5,600 visits to the Colchester Business Awards Voting page 

Over 175k page views from November 2022 to May 2023 

Over 100 blogs from 'things to do in Colchester' to business specific tours

Integration of an AI Chatbot to assist visitors with the ability to ask questions about the City Centre with immediate response. 

Integration of travel assistant support on all business directory pages and 'getting here' page to assist visitors on the best modes of transport and directions to access their desired destination. 

 

WHAT IS A BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT (BID)?

A BID is a business-led partnership that enables coordinated investment in the management and marketing of a defined area.  The BID will provide sustainable, consistent investment for Colchester and its businesses. Businesses decide and direct what they want for the area by having a voice on issues affecting the area. A BID charge (known as a levy) is ring-fenced for use only in the BID area – unlike business rates which are paid into, and redistributed, by Government.  It brings additionality of services not replacement services.

Colchester High Street

Local businesses would be in total control of a future BID and it represents all sectors, promoting collaborative working with others to achieve greater things. The benefits of BIDs cited by the businesses they represent are wide-ranging and include:

  • Increased footfall
  • Improved staff retention
  • Collaborative and cohesive marketing strategy for promotion of the city
  • Businesses decide and direct what they want for the BID area
  • BID levy money is ring-fenced for use only in the BID area – unlike business rates which are paid into, and redistributed, by the government
  • Giving the BID area a coherent and united voice
  • Facilitated networking opportunities with neighbouring businesses
  • Dedicated business to business communication, so we all know what’s happening in our area
  • Assistance in dealing with the Council, Police and other public bodies

Our Colchester is the BID for Colchester city centre.

Bid FAQs

How long does the BID last?

The maximum period that a Business Improvement District levy can be charged is for 5 years.Once the term is completed the Business Improvement District will automatically cease. If the Business Improvement District Company wants to continue its activities it must hold a new ballot.

Has this BID worked elsewhere?

Yes. There are over 320 BIDs in the UK and this number is growing. Many of these BIDs have been in existence for a number of years. The first BID in the UK was Kingston, Surrey, in 2005. Nearby BIDs to Colchester include Ipswich, Chelmsford, and Southend.

Can businesses and organisations who don’t pay a levy also contribute?

Yes, in other BID areas where businesses have been removed from paying the BID levy or if they are outside of the BID boundary, they can opt to become a ‘Friend of the BID’ and make a voluntary or in-kind contribution.

How can I find out more information?

You can find the full BID business plan here or make contact via email at hello@ourcolchester.co.uk, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more updates.

What are some of the projects the BID has delivered?

Over the past five years Our Colchester BID has delivered pivitol projects, including Covid-19 support, a welcome back campaign, Christmas in Colchester, the Colchester Indie Vision, and the Colchester Leisure Recovery Strategy programme which has seen an investment of £250,000 in the city centre.

When does the BID start?

Our Colchester Business Improvement District was voted in in Autumn 2018.This 5 year term will come to an end in 2023 and a renewal ballot will commence. A successful ballot will see the BID deliver more projects and support for Colchester City centre for a further 5 years.

Threshold, Caps & Exemptions

All properties or hereditaments with a rateable value of £14,999 or more will be eligible for payment of the levy. Occupiers within shopping centres that are subject to a service charge will pay 1.2% of their rateable value. Charitable organisations that are subject to relief on their business rates liability will also pay a levy of 1.2%. Both the Sixth Form College and Colchester Institute are exempt from paying the levy. The Licensing Authority currently does not have a policy to introduce a Late Night Levy during the term of the BID. The maximum amount payable for any one hereditament has no cap.

How is the BID formed?

Our Colchester BID is formed by the BID board, Advisory Group and Operations Team. Working together, a strategic plan is created and formed for each year, alongside a long term goal for the five-years.

Where does the BID operate?

The BID works within the boundaries set out in the 2018 business plan and cannot change these boundaries during its 5 year term. You can find information about the BIDs business plan and boundaries HERE.

How long does the BID last?

The maximum period that a Business Improvement District levy can be charged is for 5 years.Once the term is completed the Business Improvement District will automatically cease. If the Business Improvement District Company wants to continue its activities it must hold a new ballot.

When does the BID start?

Our Colchester Business Improvement District was voted in in Autumn 2018.This 5 year term will come to an end in 2023 and a renewal ballot will commence. A successful ballot will see the BID deliver more projects and support for Colchester City centre for a further 5 years.

Has this BID worked elsewhere?

Yes. There are over 320 BIDs in the UK and this number is growing. Many of these BIDs have been in existence for a number of years. The first BID in the UK was Kingston, Surrey, in 2005. Nearby BIDs to Colchester include Ipswich, Chelmsford, and Southend.

Threshold, Caps & Exemptions

All properties or hereditaments with a rateable value of £14,999 or more will be eligible for payment of the levy. Occupiers within shopping centres that are subject to a service charge will pay 1.2% of their rateable value. Charitable organisations that are subject to relief on their business rates liability will also pay a levy of 1.2%. Both the Sixth Form College and Colchester Institute are exempt from paying the levy. The Licensing Authority currently does not have a policy to introduce a Late Night Levy during the term of the BID. The maximum amount payable for any one hereditament has no cap.

Can businesses and organisations who don’t pay a levy also contribute?

Yes, in other BID areas where businesses have been removed from paying the BID levy or if they are outside of the BID boundary, they can opt to become a ‘Friend of the BID’ and make a voluntary or in-kind contribution.

How is the BID formed?

Our Colchester BID is formed by the BID board, Advisory Group and Operations Team. Working together, a strategic plan is created and formed for each year, alongside a long term goal for the five-years.

How can I find out more information?

You can find the full BID business plan here or make contact via email at hello@ourcolchester.co.uk, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more updates.

Where does the BID operate?

The BID works within the boundaries set out in the 2018 business plan and cannot change these boundaries during its 5 year term. You can find information about the BIDs business plan and boundaries HERE.

What are some of the projects the BID has delivered?

Over the past five years Our Colchester BID has delivered pivitol projects, including Covid-19 support, a welcome back campaign, Christmas in Colchester, the Colchester Indie Vision, and the Colchester Leisure Recovery Strategy programme which has seen an investment of £250,000 in the city centre.

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