Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive of LeedsBID, tells us how the organisation is helping to make Leeds the place to be.
LeedsBID, which stands for Leeds Business Improvement District, is a not-for-profit, non-political organisation dedicated to improving Leeds city centre: “Business Improvement Districts were formed in 2004, so they’ve been around a while,” LeedsBID Chief Executive Andrew Cooper says. “Our Leeds branch started in 2015. We’re the largest BID outside of London. The model of a BID is to bring businesses together to take on projects to improve a geographical area.”
The organisation has taken on many projects over the years to achieve its goal. Any regulars in the centre of town will already be accustomed to the familiar sight of LeedsBID’s Street Rangers, who go above and beyond cleaning Leeds’ streets seven days a week. Each year the team cleans an area equivalent to cleaning the inner ring road eight times.
The BID has also been supporting charities lending aid to homeless people in Leeds: “We work with the police and local authorities. We’ve established something called Make It Better which is a charity and a way of people giving funding to help deal with homelessness and vulnerable people on the streets.”
“In the city centre we also have an event called the Leeds International Festival
of Ideas,” Andrew says. “It’s an opportunity to bring the brightest minds to Leeds and to showcase Leeds’ brightest minds to the world. It really puts Leeds on the map. That will be happening again in September. It was really successful in 2021 at the Corn Exchange. We had all sorts of speakers, such as Katherine Ryan and George Clarke.”
Coming out of the pandemic, LeedsBID is trying to ensure that Leeds’ event industry gets back on its
feet: “Leisure and events is an industry that was hit quite considerably by the pandemic. In January 2021 we established a free resource for businesses called the Engine Room. This is all about offering training and support and helping businesses that may not have the resources to get going again. The centre on Albion street has been rammed.
“One of the things we’ve done for the hospitality sector is that we did a jobs fair back in Autumn and businesses want us to do it again. Also we’ve started a course with Leeds City College called Restaurant Ready, which is about training new hospitality talent and getting them ready for action.”
LeedsBID has some big plans for the future and is looking into expanding
its reach: “The BID has a defined geographical area, and that stops at the river at the south of the city. Some of the businesses on the other side of the river have come to us and said, that they want to be involved in the BID. We’re looking to expand our area and to include those businesses, upon their request. We’re going through the process of consultation right now, and hopefully in two or three years, that will be a reality.”