31 Jan 2014
Just before Christmas we heard the result of a vote on a proposal for a new Business Improvement District (BID) for Sauchiehall Street. On a turnout of just under 60%, 92% of businesses voted yes.
BIDs are fairly well established in other cities around the UK, and they have an even longer history in the States. The common principle is that businesses in a designated zone vote to accept an agreed increase in business taxes - rates in the case of the UK - and then those businesses decide how that extra money should be spent on their area.
It gives the businesses a greater degree of control of investment, and usually involves a firm agreement with the local authority on how the area is serviced.
The BID area covers the section of Sauchiehall Street stretching from the beginning of the pedestrianized zone at Rose Street to Charing Cross. This part of the street has become, over the years, a bustling centre of bars, clubs, arts and music venues and restaurants. It's one of the main destinations in Glasgow's night-time economy and with the right level of care it could be a genuinely distinctive asset to the city.
But we know that it has its challenges. It never really looks in good shape - pavements are ragged, waste bins proliferate, there's too much street clutter and it has to cope with being a primary gateway for traffic into the city centre. In short, it's not all it can be.
Many of the businesses there are still recovering from the consequences of a major fire three years ago that led to the complete closure of the street for five long months.
Prior to the successful ballot, the Chamber worked closely with a number of businesses to promote the BID with a plan to improve the management of the street, promote it as a destination and champion its long term development as an important project in Glasgow's new city centre strategy.
The City Council has been an excellent partner in supporting the proposal and, indeed, will be right at the heart of delivering the services needed to achieve the vision businesses want for Sauchiehall Street.
The BID beginning in April is now only weeks away, and we will continue to provide back up support to make it work.
Of course every new initiative depends on a committed champion and Brian Fulton at CPL, which runs The Garage nightclub in Sauchiehall Street, has been exactly that. He has met with as many of the business owners and managers as he could and helped get the plan developed and agreed.
Brian is also a Board member here at the Chamber, and is a tireless promoter of all things Glasgow. He deserves our thanks.