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There is still time to vote in the Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) ballot.
At the beginning of February ballot papers were issued to all businesses who were eligible and who would become levy payers and members of the Inverness BID.
Ballot papers must be returned in the pre-paid envelope provided to CIVICA Election Services by no later than 5pm on Thursday, March 23.
Ballot papers will be counted on Friday, March 24 and the result announced before 5pm on the same day.
As businesses vote on whether their BID should win a third five-year term, we look at what will happen if it gets the go-ahead.
No matter how successful, no business can afford to rest on its laurels, but must continually strive to do better.
To that end, the BID board has produced a list of priorities for the next five years.
And there will be some innovations.
With finding staff being a major issue at times, a recruitment service has been developed at no cost to businesses to advertise and promote city centre vacancies as part of membership benefits.
There was strong support from the membership for this activity designed to make BID one of the go-to places for job applicants seeking to work in the city centre.
BID has also organised and facilitated training courses for city centre businesses on a number of topics such as retail crime (shop lifting) and social media management over the last term, and some sectors, such as hospitality has identified a need for vocational training in the city centre to fill staff vacancies.
BID plans to facilitate training sessions on topics identified by the businesses as being required.
Heritage and arts projects
BID is to seek support for a pilot heritage project in partnership with Inverness City Heritage Trust in the next term, and to seek funding and work with businesses to enhance the city centre with dedicated projects in this area.
BT smart hubs
BID has been working with BT and statutory partners towards replacing current payphones with Smart Hubs which are more modern, attractive and have several features such as advertising screens, community notices, mobile charge points, telephone, and Wi-Fi Hot Spot.
It is currently in discussion with partners in respect of two Smart Hubs being installed in the city centre in the first instance and will continue this activity in any new term.
Notice boards, banners and signage
BID updates and maintains the four main city centre notice boards and hosts High Street banners on key themes, but now BID is to seek funding to replace these notice boards and improve signage and finger boards.
BID security task team
BID organises and co-ordinates the SIA-trained security task team which offers additional security, reassurance and assistance to city centre businesses, property owners and visitors.
The task team responds quickly to real-time issues reported to help reduce antisocial behaviour, retail and other crime. Over a period of 27 weeks in 2022, there were 247 recorded incidents and requests for assistance in the city centre.
BID will seek support from the Inverness Common Good Fund (ICGF) to ensure this important service continues and in response to business feedback, will explore making the task team service year round. City centre businesses confirmed strong support for this activity.
Fat, oil and grease (FOG) management
Some businesses identified issues for their business due to FOG management and disposal, and are in favour of activity to encourage and raise awareness of appropriate disposal methods.
BID will work with Scottish Water and partners, for a FOG awareness pilot for the city centre to improve drain issues and promote best practice and improve training and resource in this area.
Places to eat and drink guide
BID profiles over 114 venues to eat and drink via the guide which is a key source of information to visitors to the city centre. BID is to update the guide and add a QR code to ensure new venues or those who relocate are included.