Sara Ward has been appointed as Business Improvement District (BID) Project Manager for Galashiels with a remit for leading the development of the BID for the town.

Sara, an experienced programme manager who most recently led the Developing Young Workforce team in the Borders, will report to the BID for Galashiels 2024 Steering Group and will initially be responsible for managing the BID process through to the ballot stage in summer 2024. If successful, the role will become permanent and a BID company will be set up to implement an agreed business plan.

A BID is a business-led partnership created to deliver additional services for the benefit of local businesses and the wider community over a five-year period. As part of a BID, businesses work together to improve their trading environments, create new platforms for growth and strengthen the local economy. They also provide with a collective voice to support the future development and direction of their business area. A BID is not a substitute for central or local government investment and service.

BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by a compulsory levy. Businesses within the designated BID area must vote in favour of the levy before a BID can be established. A successful BID ballot requires two voting majorities, a majority of votes (with each business having one vote) and a majority of rateable value, the value of which is dependent on property size and location within the designated BID zone.

BIDs have been successful in various towns and cities across the UK including Oban, Elgin and the Tweed Valley.

A previous attempt to establish a BID for Galashiels (2018) was unsuccessful due to a technical error, but many of the actions outlined within the 2018  business plan – including property transformation grants to local businesses, support for local events such as the Heartland Market, Maroon’d @ Gala and Tangled Yarns, and public realm improvements such as the town centre murals and support for Gala in Bloom – were delivered by Energise Galashiels Trust (EGT) as part of its Vibrant Gala Plan, backed by funding from Scottish Borders Council and South of Scotland Enterprise. From March 2024, funding will be no longer available.

The BID for Galashiels 2024 steering group is an autonomous group comprising local business leaders and is co-chaired by Debbie Paterson (Sinclair Duncan Textiles) and Lewis Roden (Mitchell Glass).

Sara – who will take up her position from 23 October – said: “I am really excited to take up the role of programme manager, working collaboratively with local and national businesses and the wider community, I believe the time is right to make Galashiels a Business Improvement District”

Lewis said: “Sara’s appointment is great news as we work together to promote the benefits of a BID for Galashiels. A lot of hard work has taken place in recent years to improve the look and feel of the town and to increase footfall, and we’d like to thank Energise Galashiels Trust for its efforts. As of 31 March 2024, the funds managed by Energise Galashiels – the funds that enabled such improvements – will stop. The only way to ensure the town’s continued positive momentum is to form a BID for Galashiels and Sara, with the support of local businesses, is committed to making that happen.”