Closer partnership working by Highland Council with Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) to improve the fabric of city centre buildings was among the suggestions by councillors at their city committee yesterday.
The councillors heard an annual report by Inverness BID chairman Peter Strachan and responded with ideas for more partnership working.
Councillor Jimmy Gray said the council and BID should work more closely together to encourage the owners of city centre buildings to improve the fabric of their buildings.
He said: “The Township Heritage Trust is an initiative which is moving forward but it needs clear support from planning.”
Mr Strachan said: “The points about the fabric of city well made and we in the BID are equally frustrated.
“Pinning down absentee landlords is our challenge. It’s less easy to find individual decision makers and there’s no easy fix. When we know who they are, we can share that information with council.”
Councillor Alasdair Christie said the BID was missing a trick in not working with charitable and third sector organisations, which are big employers in the city.
He said: “These organisations don’t pay the levy but joining up can bring some additional value.”
Mr Strachan said: “Clearly as a membership organisation we will focus on those who pay into the bucket,but that’s not to ignore people who a really important part of the city community.”
He added: “Our net income reduced from the previous year by around 20% due to reduction in rateable value from the retail sector and a reduction in the BID levy.”
City manager David Haas said the council was responsible for collecting the levy and officers were working hard to ensure the collection rate goes up.
Councillors also heard that this year’s coach ambassador project delivered by Inverness BID at Ardross Street with part-Inverness Common Good Funding brought 119,000 coach passengers to the city centre.
A gull management project run by Inverness BID has over the past seven years removed almost 11,500 eggs from city centre and nearby nests preventing an estimated 600 additional gulls from fledging.