The campaign to renew the city’s business improvement district has been boosted by council backing.
All 18 of the local authority’s votes will back Aberdeen Inspired in the ballot, which closes at 5pm on Thursday.
Councillors asked no questions of the official briefing on the business improvement district (Bid) vote as they unanimously backed the proposals yesterday.
Last year, Aberdeen Inspired brought around £2 million into Aberdeen city centre that otherwise would have not have been invested – about double the sum they take in from local firms.
Businesses within the Bid footprint, up the length of Union Street and stretching from John Street to Union Square, must pay a mandatory levy to fund Aberdeen Inspired.
Usually 1% of the rateable value on their premises, it would be halved over the next year as businesses continue to recover from the pandemic.
But the smallest firms, with rateable values under £27,500, are spared the charge, which generates close to £1m in income for Aberdeen Inspired.
Bid boss urges business owners to back renewal for a ‘united Covid recovery’
The organisation, aimed at boosting custom with the city centre area it covers, was key in bringing the Nuart street art festival – and with it around 30,000 visitors and £10m ‘marketing value’ – to the city in recent years; as well as the restaurant week, and Aberdeen’s comedy and jazz festivals.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are very grateful for the continued and valued support from Aberdeen City Council, which accounts for around 2% of the overall Bid vote.
“Although we are independent of the council and have the autonomy to spend our income on the projects our levy payers deem to be most important, we do of course we work very closely with the local authority to tackle joint issues.
“Aberdeen Inspired invests money that would not otherwise be available in the city centre and in projects to make the city centre more attractive.
“A strong, united voice and partnership approach is needed more than ever to support our city centre now and in its future recovery, and we hope other levy payers will also choose to back the bid before the ballot closes on Thursday.”
But there is opposition to the renewal of Aberdeen Inspired’s five-year term, with claims resources are spent to the benefit of the city’s larger businesses and chains.
Joint statement from Aberdeen universities backing Bid renewal
However, as councillors voted to show their support, leaders of the city’s two universities also urged voters to back the Bid renewal in a joint press statement, as a way of attracting young talent to the area.
Aberdeen University vice-principal Richard Wells said: “As we work to support the regional recovery of the north-east, the university is committed to working with our partners across the region to build a more prosperous, vibrant city.
“Aberdeen Inspired, alongside stakeholders across the region, have a key role to play in supporting the creativity and partnership working which will be needed as we look to recover from the global pandemic, rejuvenating Aberdeen.”
RGU deputy principal Elizabeth Hancock said: “Together with Aberdeen Inspired and other regional stakeholders, RGU is committed to supporting the recovery of the north-east including through its contribution to a welcoming and thriving city for our staff, students and the wider community.
“A vibrant city centre will attract talent into our economic and creative sectors, retain home grown graduates and entrepreneurs, and enhance the reputation of Aberdeen as a tourist destination.”
The electoral maths of Aberdeen’s Bid renewal ballot
To be renewed, Bid bosses must win a simple majority of more than 50% of the number of votes and also the combined rateable value within its territory.
For the vote to stand, 25% of people entitled to vote and 25% of the combined rateable value must also be represented in the decision-making.
Aberdeen City Council‘s 18 qualifying properties within the Bid represent slightly more than 2% of the eligible properties.
The local authority’s voice counts for nearly 6.5% of the combined rateable value however, given the worth of some of their buildings.
Finance convenor Ryan Houghton said: “For this vote, the council is only another voter with a number of votes – but this is matter for the city’s businesses at large to determine.
“I’m delighted the council is able to support the proposed Bid renewal by Aberdeen Inspired.
“The next few years will be absolutely crucial and the economic recovery of the city and we know that involves the work of partners, with businesses at the forefront.
“Having the Bid programme pulls in £1m for the city centre and it would be difficult replace if it is not renewed.”