The BIDs Model at Work

The Scottish BIDs legislation and model is very flexible and able to be used in a number of diverse ways by local businesses to help bring about a strong local partnership that is able to address local issues and concerns and deliver results

The consultation on BIDs in 2003 identified that the model should not be restricted to town and city centres, to allow for more innovative and entrepreneurial BIDs to be developed such as in agriculture, rural areas, business parks, tourism and visitor areas and single business sectors. The Scottish legislation allows BIDs to cross over local authority boundaries.


Types of BIDs

Town Centres and Local High Streets

Business Parks and Industrial Estates

Rural Areas

Single Business Sector BIDs

Tourism and Visitor BIDs (TBIDs)

Development Trusts Association Scotland


Town Centres and Local High Streets

Scotland's town centres and local high streets are a source of business, services, employment, residential and leisure activity for their local communities. They are a key contributor to the national economy, supporting achievement of the Government's purpose of supporting sustainable economic growth across the whole of Scotland for the benefit of all.

To be vital and sustainable, towns and businesses need to be able to respond to local needs and changing circumstances in order to be competitive and attractive centres.

The recently published National Review of Town Centres (Scotland), Community and Enterprise in Scotland's Town Centres called for 'further support for an increased use of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) where existing businesses invest with local authorities in the future of their areas, can help to expand a town centres economic base'.

This proposal was supported by the Scottish Government in the Town Centres Action Plan published in November 2013.

In Scotland there are now 29 BID towns and cities: Aberdeen, Alloa, Bathgate, Carluke, Clarkston, Crieff, Dunblane, Dunfermline, Dunoon and Cowal, Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh Greater Grassmarket, Edinburgh West End, Elgin, Falkirk, Giffnock, Glasgow Byres Road and Lanes, Hamilton, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Kirkwall, Largs, Linlithgow, Lerwick, Milngavie, Oban, Paisley, Penicuik, South Queensferry and St Andrews The Boards of Directors in each area are delivering projects and services colllectively and in collaboration with other bodies and agencies that will be of benefit to the local businesses and the local community.

A further 5 towns and cities are developing a BID: Broughty Ferry, Carnoustie, Dundee City Centre, East Renfrewshire and Selkirk, with further interest being registered from towns and cities from across the country.

In these challenging economic times it is this positive activity in Scotland's town centres that will be the first indication of recovery, providing reassurance that local economies are once again witnessing signs of growth.


"... Beating hearts of our local communities; our Town Centres." (John Swinney, 2008 Scotland's Towns Conference)


Please click here for copies of the National Review of Town Centres Scotland National Review of Town Centres, Community and Enterprise in Scotland's Town Centres and the Town Centres Action Plan - The Scottish Government Response


Business Parks and Industrial Estates

Business Parks and Industrial Estates provide significant levels of employment across Scotland and are home to many of our small and medium sized businesses.

Business Parks can be remote to residential centres, suffer from a lack of services by the statutory authorities and be subject to crime and vandalism amongst many other issues, making it difficult to attract staff, presenting an untidy and neglected appearance and a burden on businesses in terms of safety and security both for the business itself and for their staff.

A business improvement district allows businesses to work collectively to address local issues such as public transport provision, child care, a cleaner and safer environment, waste management and renewable energy, whilst developing a strong and effective private and public sector partnership which can bring additional investment, a competitive regional advantage and a strong voice for local businesses.




There are currently three business park business improvement districts,  Clacksfirst Limited, Linlithgow and Vale of Leven with a further one in development in Mid Lothian.


Rural Settlements

Normally a partnership with the local authority, a rural BID is also likely to be a partnership with the local Development Trust, Heritage Trust or Community Council or any other local group which has the same objectives as the business improvement district or there is a need to collectively work together to bring about improvement to the local area.

Whilst common projects for business improvement districts relate to access (public transport), safety and security, cleansing and marketing and promotion, rural projects could also include renewable energy, local employment, digital connections, workshops and arts centres, public sector asset transfer and the delivery of local services.

A rural improvement district can contribute to:

  • the growth of sustaiinable businesses in rural areas

  • broadening and strengthening the rural economy

  • improving the accessibility and quality of public and commercial services that local people and businesses depend on

  • help to build resilient sustainable rural communities




Single Business Sector

The business improvement district model can be adopted by any group of businesses wishing to work collectively for the improvement of their sector.

A single business sector improvement district could work across local authority boundaries and where businesses are spread throughout the country the business improvement area could be Scotland.

Enquiries to Business Improvement Districts Scotland have come from:

  • food and drink producers

  • textile manufacturers and retailers

  • golf centres

  • whisky centres and

  • arts and crafts

The opportunity for businesses to work collectively across Scotland within a single sector improvement model has yet to be piloted and Business Improvement Districts Scotland would welcome any discussions in this respect.

A variations on the single business sector BID is being developed by Visit Aberdeen who are seeking to develop a BID Proposal involving the oil and gas and hotel sectors.



Tourism and Visitors

The tourism and visitor market in Scotland has faced very challenging times recently, from the global effects of the recession and the ‘ash cloud’ to the emerging public sector cuts which will create pressures on public sector funding. Scotland enjoys an enviable reputation as a world-class visitor destination, but ever-increasing international competition and economic pressures will mean that the tourism and visitor businesses will have to be more effective and explore new funding models to deliver on the ever increasing demands of the tourism and visitor customer.

'It's a troublingly familiar story; faced with funding tourism marketing or cutting services, local governments reduce or eliminate tourism funding – leaving DMOs scrambling to fill the funding gap. In the wake of funding cuts, many DMOs are looking inward, towards industry-driven marketing funds that won't be subjected to governmental budget reductions. In many destinations a new kind of funding mechanism, the tourism improvement district, is being used to fill the gap'.


Originally published by the Destination Marketing Association International, reprinted with permission. November 15, 2010

A Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) is a model often used in the United States and provides the resources to assist tourism and visitor businesses (perhaps an existing Destination Management Organisation) working and investing collectively, with the delivery of projects that will make an impact and improve their sector and business environment. A tourism BID also gives businesses a local voice and a ‘seat at the table’ with those agencies and bodies who help shape the tourism and visitor industry in Scotland, whilst also helping to develop and improve the level of service provided by statutory and non statutory bodies.

 The very first tourism and visitor BID (TBID) in Scotland is the Loch Ness and Inverness Tourism BID (TBID).




Former Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Jim Mather MSP

'The message is out that BIDs are moving. We need to gear up to work with the Project Director of Business Improvement Districts Scotland, to broadcast the fact that the process is working, and if more business districts work together to improve themselves, we will take it even further. I want BIDs to boost the local economy, create more employment, create a feel-good factor, reinvent civic pride and trust locally and boost tourism. I also want them to boost mentoring, with people helping other businesses to come forward'.


Scottish Parliament Wednesday 23rd April 2008

'To achieve the target of tourism growth of 50% by the year 2015, it is crucial that businesses work together to improve the product on offer to the visitor. VisitScotland has identified that businesses who work together in their local area not only bring physical benefits to the tourism offering but also bring in significant financial benefits to the area. This business strategy (a BID) helps businesses to do this and undoubtedly can help to reinforce the reputation Scotland has as a safe, clean and environmentally friendly destination’.

Barbara Clark

Head of Communications





Development Trusts Association Scotland

The Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTA Scotland) is the national body for development trusts in Scotland, supporting the community to unlock the potential within the community.

DTA Scotland was established in 2003 and now has over 170 members and 40 associate members, from Shetland to Galloway and within urban, small towns, rural areas and island communities.

Development Trusts are community organisations which

  • are owned by the local community

  • aim to achieve the sustainable regeneration of a community or address a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural issues within a community and

  • are independent but seek to work in partnership with other private, public and third sector organisations

In many ways the aims and objectives of development trusts are similar to those of geographical business improvement districts, sustainable regeneration and local economic growth.

BIDs Scotland and DTA Scotland are working in partnership to develop pilot local development trusts which utilise the BIDs legislation to deliver a sustainable funding mechanism and create a stronger local partnership to deliver sustainable regeneration and economic growth.

Find out more about DTA.