Welcome to

Royston First

What is Royston First?

Royston First is a Business Improvement District (BID) which was a statutory device introduced in 2003 to enable the delivery of local initiatives beneficial to the business community. The BID is funded by a Levy based on rateable value.

What is a BID?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led initiative focused on a defined geographical area, usually in a town or city centre but sometimes in a business park or industrial complex (the Royston First BID covers both town centre and industrial areas). A BID provides businesses with the opportunity to become directly involved in the development and improvement of their local area, working in partnership with the council and other statutory authorities to bring benefits to both their own enterprises as well as the wider community.

Businesses within a BID area are invited to come together to make decisions on how to improve the trading environment around them. A range of projects are agreed and voted upon by all the eligible businesses in a referendum. For this ballot to succeed, over 50% of those that voted had to vote in favour; and the total rateable value of those that voted in support had to exceed the rateable value of those that voted against. The “yes” vote having been achieved, the BID is funded by a mandatory levy, which is based on the rateable value of all the eligible businesses.

The initial “vote” for Royston First was achieved in 2009 by way of a ballot conducted by the electoral authorities in strict accordance with legislation. Royston First commenced its first 5 years of operations on the 6th April 2009. A further mandate was then sought for a further 5-year term – which was confirmed by referendum in early 2014. The current (2nd) BID term runs until April 2019.

Follow the links below for Government information on BIDs:



BID Benefits

A BID is one step on from the existing Town Management process because it has guaranteed income over a fixed period to invest in activities purely designed to enhance the business environment. There are no “free-loading” companies picking up the benefits without paying a contribution to the cost. With a BID, everyone pays and everyone gains.

Once voted-in, BIDs operate over five years where a known income can be allocated to short, medium and long-term projects. In Royston we supplement the fixed income by creating other funding streams too, such as public sector grants, earned income and sponsorship of particular initiatives.

Businesses have experienced a broad spectrum of benefits from the Royston First BID:

  • An improved working environment; increasing the ability to recruit and retain quality staff
  • Minimised loss of expertise delivering an improved bottom line
  • A reduction in criminal damage to property, both company and private
  • Improved perception by clients following a more positive experience in Royston
  • A strong, collective voice on key issues for businesses
  • An increase in footfall as a direct result of an improved business environment
  • Additional footfall and dwell-time lifting sales
  • A safer and more attractive environment throughout the town
  • Sustained investment in new businesses

Simultaneously, the community (including many employees of local businesses) also benefits:

  • A safer and more secure environment for residents and visitors
  • Marketing and promotion projects improving the local ‘offer’
  • More activities and amenities to engage and entertain (such as the community cinema)
  • Better employment prospects locally
  • Greater civic pride and pleasure in an attractive, green environment

Why a BID?

BIDs are the fastest growing partnership framework we have seen for decades in the UK. Quite simply a BID is a geographically defined area where businesses pay into a collective kitty to pay for additional services that they feel will benefit them and the local community.

Each business pays in according to its size (by Rateable Value: RV) and ALL the money collected goes to buying the extras determined by common consent. The process is managed by the businesses themselves and lasts for up to five years. Royston has had a BID since 2009 but its first term is due to finish next year, in March 2014.

Research to date and the overall conclusions From answers received from business levy payers (representing over 3,000 employees):

  • Rising business costs are viewed as the greatest challenge to future profitability
  • +56% feel that Royston has remained the same or has improved as a place to conduct business in the last four years, since the BID was introduced

…. and from Royston users:

  • 87% visit once a week or more frequently but stay less than two hours in total
  • 50% come to town by car….but a fifth of them still find parking less than easy
  • 80% feel that the town’s commercial offer is disappointingly poor
  • 94% like the market but would prefer it to trade for longer and more frequently
  • Cambridge, Stevenage and Letchworth are the principal competitors
  • The park and the friendliness of the people are Royston’s key strengths
  • 55% would spend more time and money in the town if the shopping offer was better

The results of our research prompted us to come up with the following prioritised actions we plan to tackle over the next five years:

  • Business as usual….the current BID activities that must continue (they would disappear if a ‘No’ vote is the result of the forthcoming renewal ballot)
  • Making sure Royston remains the focus for its local community
  • Supporting local businesses….more activities we can do together to help
  • Making more of marketing, promotion and events
  • Choosing and delivering another ‘Big Win’

Why keep the BID going?

The Town Centre needs to hold its own in the face of a national decline in retail sales. As we have proved over the last four years, together we are strong and can sustain a collective fight back. With a “yes” vote, we will see more than one million pounds of additional investment brought into Royston.

Our Industrial Estate is in robust health with new businesses choosing it for their regional base alongside international “names”. We must continue to ensure that it is seen as an attractive location to invest in, especially from the security angle. Promoting the area’s successes more extensively will support the wider town and community.

The Police Sergeant

“I have been the Sergeant at Royston for over four years and during that time I have worked closely with Royston First on a number of projects. It has been an excellent partnership which has proved immensely successful in reducing crime and disorder around the town.
In each of these four years the crime rate in Royston and villages has fallen – from over 1,000 crimes to less than 600 forecast for this year and this is in no small part due to our work with Royston First. Initiatives such as the Royston First-funded ANPR system and our extra police patrols (Operation Artemis) have both played a huge part in this reduction.
Royston is very much the better for Royston First’s funding of, and collaboration with, our local police work.”

The MP

“I supported the Business Improvement District legislation when it was brought in front of Parliament in 2003 and was subsequently pleased to see it enacted in my home town. Since the 2009 launch, I’ve followed the work of the Royston First BID and have been impressed by the scope of the projects delivered. I am convinced that renewal for a further five year term is an important way forward for our town and I commend the BID to the voting businesses.”

The Business Owner

“Royston First has greatly benefited our business, not least in the increased security and police presence on the industrial estate, both of which have had a noticeable effect. The various parking schemes have made it easier for our employees to park in Royston, and we have increased our use of local suppliers based in the Town Centre as a result. We are looking forward to working together on the Visitor Information Centre.”

Propositions for the current (2nd) BID term

  • Scratchcard parking scheme extended
  • Event support increased
  • Free-After-3 parking scheme sustained
  • Operation Artemis policing continues
  • Royston Picture Palace maintained
  • ANPR cameras adapted to meet new guidelines
  • Pigeon control maintained
  • Drive for new investment and businesses
  • A ‘Big Win’ initiated, perhaps a splashpool in the park
  • Christmas lights installed and improved
  • Better employee car parking
  • Gateway signage increased
  • Signage modernised and extended
  • Dressing empty shop windows
  • Visitor Information Centre supported
  • Additional Cinema ‘shorts’
  • Town ‘App’ and website developed and promoted
  • Increased security for small businesses
  • Regular ‘deep cleans’
  • Retail Academy
  • Business to business hub
  • Improve and to add to markets
  • Royston Focus new editions distributed


For more information about Royston First’s business plan, a review from the first 5 year term or our plans for the second term please download the relevant brochure.


Business Plan



BID Review



BID Prospectus


What have we done?

Of the 30+ projects either delivered, currently active or pending, we have chosen to highlight the following:


royston-update-thumbRoyston Update

Royston Focus

Royston Maps