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The Business Improvement Districts (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014

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Citation, commencement and interpretation

1.—(1) These Regulations may be cited as the Business Improvement Districts (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 and shall come into operation on the 1st July 2014.

(2) In these Regulations—

“the 2013 Act” means the Business Improvement Districts Act (Northern Ireland) 2013;

“the 2014 (Miscellaneous) Regulations” means the Business Improvement Districts (Miscellaneous) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014;

“alteration ballot” has the meaning given in regulation 19;

“alteration proposals” means proposals in relation to the alteration of BID arrangements pursuant to regulation 16;

“ballot holder” has the meaning given in regulation 6;

“barcode” means marks—

(a)

appearing on the ballot paper and containing in an encoded form information relating to a voter and a ballot;

(b)

capable of being scanned electronically in a manner that permits the encoded information contained in the marks to be decoded; and

(c)

in which the information encoded in the marks cannot be decoded when read only by the human eye;

“BID” means business improvement district under Section 1 of the 2013 Act;

“BID ballot” means a ballot under section 5(1) of the 2013 Act;

“BID body” means the body (whether corporate or not corporate) responsible for the implementation of the works or services to be provided within the BID arrangements, where a BID body is included in the BID proposals in terms of paragraph (1)(a) of Schedule 1 to these Regulations;

“BID levy” means a levy that is imposed on those persons who are, in respect of particular BID proposals, entitled to vote in accordance with section 6(2) of the 2013 Act;

“BID proposer” means a person who draws up BID proposals;

“billing body” means the person that is appointed by the district council in respect of the geographical area of the business improvement district for the purposes of the administration, collection and recovery of the BID levy (and which may be a district council or some other person);

“commencement date”, subject to regulation 9(12), means the day, pursuant to section 11(3) of the 2013 Act, the BID arrangements are to come into force;

“the day of the ballot” means the day determined by the ballot holder, in accordance with Schedule 2, as the day by which ballot papers must be returned to the ballot holder;

“demand notice” means the notice required to be served under paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 4;

“electronic communication” means a communication transmitted (whether from one person to another, from one device to another or from a person to a device or vice versa)—

(a)

by means of an electronic communications network (within the meaning of the Electronic Communications Act (Northern Ireland) 2001)(1); or

(b)

by other means but while in an electronic form;

“eligible ratepayer” means a person a person as described in section 6(3) of the 2013 Act;

“NAV list” has the same meaning as in the Rates (Northern Ireland) Order 1977(2);

“re-ballot” means a BID ballot, renewal ballot, or alteration ballot, as the case may be, which is required to be arranged pursuant to regulation 9(10);

“relevant property” has the same meaning as provided for in section 6(4) of the 2013 Act for the purposes of that section;

“renewal ballot” means a ballot under section 16(2) of the 2013 Act;

“renewal proposals” means proposals in relation to the renewal of the BID arrangements under section 16(2) of the 2013 Act;

“veto” means a veto by the district council pursuant to section 9 of the 2013 Act; and

“working day” means any day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday.

BID proposer

2.  BID proposals may be drawn up by–

(a)the district council; or

(b)any person who, at the date they send BID proposals to the district council under regulation 5(2)(a)–

(i)is a non-domestic ratepayer in relation to relevant property situated in the area to be comprised in such proposals;

(ii)has an interest in land (situated in the proposed business improvement district) as an owner, a holder of a standard security or tenant, or, directly or indirectly, receives rent for the land (whether or not that person is a non-domestic ratepayer in relation to that land); or

(iii)is a body (whether corporate or unincorporated) one of whose purposes is developing BID proposals, or which has as one of its functions, town or city centre management.

Notice of BID proposal

3.  A BID proposer shall, at least 98 days before sending the notice required under regulation 5(2)(a)(ii), notify, in writing, the district council and the Department of the proposer’s intention to ask the district council to put the BID proposals to a ballot.

BID proposals, renewal proposals, alteration proposals and preliminary procedures

4.—(1) BID proposals, renewal proposals or alteration proposals, as the case may be, shall include the matters mentioned in Schedule 1.

(2) Where a BID proposer decides to seek approval of BID proposals in a ballot or the BID body decides to seek approval of alteration proposals in an alteration ballot or renewal proposals in a renewal ballot, it shall–

(a)send to the Department and the district council–

(i)a copy of the BID proposals, alteration proposals or renewal proposals, as the case may be, together with–

(aa)a summary of the consultation it has undertaken with those persons eligible to vote on the proposals;

(bb)the proposed business plan (including the estimated cashflow, an estimate of the predicted revenue to be generated and the predicted expenditure to be spent under the BID arrangements, the predicted budget over the duration of the BID arrangements and the contingency margin included in the budget);

(cc)the financial management arrangements for the BID body, and the arrangements for the periodically providing the district council with information on the finances of the BID body.

(ii)a notice in writing requesting the district council to instruct the ballot holder to hold a BID ballot in relation to the BID proposals, an alteration ballot in relation to the alteration proposals or a renewal ballot in relation to the renewal proposals, as the case may be; and

(b)provide the district council with such information as they shall reasonably require to satisfy themselves that the BID proposer or, as the case may be, the BID body, has sufficient funds to meet the costs of the BID ballot, the renewal ballot, or the re-ballot in relation to the BID ballot, or the renewal ballot, as the case may be, should it be required to do so under regulation 10.

(3) Where–

(a)a BID proposer decides to seek approval of BID proposals in a BID ballot; or

(b)a BID body decides to seek approval of alteration proposals in an alteration ballot or renewal proposals in a renewal ballot,

it shall send a copy of the BID proposals, alteration proposals, or renewal proposals, as the case may be, and the proposed business plan, to any person who is eligible to vote on the proposals who requests a copy.

(4) Where the district council is of the view that the BID proposals, renewal proposals or alteration proposals conflict with a policy formally adopted by and contained in a document published by the council (whether or not the council is under a statutory duty to prepare such document) the council shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the proposals, notify the BID proposer or BID body, as the case may be, in writing explaining the nature of that conflict.

Instructions to hold a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot

5.—(1) Where the district council–

(a)subject to paragraph (2), receives a notice pursuant to regulation 4(2)(a)(ii); or

(b)receives a notification from the Department under regulation 10(10) requiring it to arrange a re-ballot;

it shall–

(i)instruct the ballot holder to hold a BID ballot, a renewal ballot, an alteration ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be.

(2) Where the district council receives a notice pursuant to regulation 4(2)(a)(ii), it shall not be required to instruct the ballot holder under paragraph (1) until such time as the BID proposer or Bid body, as the case may be, complies with the requirements of regulation 5(1) and (2).

Ballot holder

6.—(1) The person who holds a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot (“the ballot holder”) shall be the person the district council has appointed as the returning officer for the purpose of a BID ballot.

(2) The ballot holder may by written notice appoint one or more persons to discharge all or any of his functions under these Regulations.

Arrangements for holding a ballot and conduct of a ballot

7.  On receipt of an instruction under regulation 5, the ballot holder shall make arrangements for conducting a BID ballot, alteration ballot, renewal ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be, in accordance with Schedule 2.

Declaring a ballot void

8.—(1) Subject to paragraph (3), the Department may declare void a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot if it appears to it that a material irregularity has occurred.

(2) In this Regulation, “material irregularity” means–

(a)a contravention of any requirement of these Regulations which, in the opinion of the Department, means it is likely that voting in the BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be, has been affected to a significant extent by the contravention;

(b)persons other than persons entitled to vote have purported to vote in the BID ballot and, in the opinion of the Department, it is likely that the result of the BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be, has been affected to a significant extent;

(c)persons entitled to vote have been prevented from voting or hindered from doing so freely in accordance with their own opinion and , in the opinion of the Department, it is likely that the result of the BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be, has been affected to a significant extent;

(d)that, in the opinion of the Department, there has been fraudulent activity in the conduct of the ballot;

(e)that, in the opinion of the Department, significant errors have been made in the matters to be included in the BID proposals as specified in Schedule 1;

(f)that, in the opinion of the Department, there has been significant change in local circumstances; or

(g)that, in the opinion of the Department, inadequate guidance or information has been provided to enable those eligible to vote in the BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot (as the case may be) to vote.

(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply unless, by the date which is 28 days after the notice of the result is published pursuant to paragraph 17 of Schedule 2, a person (“the complainant”), being a person or group of persons referred to in paragraph (4), has made a request (by notice given in writing) to the Department to exercise its powers under this regulation, specifying the reason for such a request.

(4) The persons mentioned in paragraph (3) are–

(a)the BID proposer or the BID body;

(b)at least 5 per cent of the number of persons entitled to vote in the BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration or re-ballot, as the case may be; or

(c)the district council.

(5) On receipt of a request under paragraph (3), the Department shall notify the complainant, the district council, and the BID proposer or the BID body, in writing that it has received the request, and send a copy to each of them.

(6) Where two or more requests relate to the same ballot, the Department may decide those requests together.

(7) Within 28 days of the date of the notice given by the Department under paragraph (5), the complainant, the district council, and the BID proposer or the BID body, may serve on the Department written representations in respect of the request.

(8) A copy of the representations made by one party shall be sent by the Department to the other parties and shall be accompanied by a statement explaining the effect of paragraph (9).

(9) Any party to whom a copy of representations is sent under paragraph (8) may within 14 days of receiving them serve on the Department written representations in reply and the Department shall send a copy of any such representations to the other parties.

(10) The Department shall notify the complainant, the district council, and the BID proposer or the BID body, in writing of their decision and where they declare void a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or re-ballot, they shall notify the district council in writing requiring it to arrange for a re-ballot or, as the case may be, a further re-ballot to be held.

(11) Where the Department declare void a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or a re-ballot in relation to such a ballot and it is of the opinion that the material irregularity was caused by the actions or omissions of the BID proposer or BID body, it shall issue a notice in writing to that effect with its decision notice, and it shall include in the notice an explanation of the effect of this regulation.

(12) Where the Department declares void a BID ballot, renewal ballot, alteration ballot or a re-ballot in relation to such a ballot–

(a)the BID arrangements, the renewed BID arrangements or the alterations to the BID arrangements, to which the ballot declared void relates, shall not come into force on the commencement date; and

(b)subject to paragraph (13), the BID arrangements, the renewed BID arrangements or the alterations to the BID arrangements, if subsequently approved in the re-ballot, shall come into force on such day as the district council determines.

(13) The day determined under paragraph (12) shall be no later than a year after the date of the publication of the notice of the result pursuant to paragraph 17 of Schedule 2.

Payment of costs of a ballot

9.—(1) The district council may require the BID proposer or the BID body to pay the costs of arranging and holding the ballot, and the district council may recover this amount as a civil debt due to it.

(2) The costs referred to in paragraph (1) include any expenses properly incurred by the ballot holder.

Appeal against veto

10.—(1) A person (“the appellant”) who wishes to appeal against a veto under section 10(1) of the Act shall serve on the Department, within 28 days of the veto notice being given by the district council under section 9(2) of the Act, a notice in writing (“the appeal notice”) accompanied by a statement of the reasons for which the appeal is made.

(2) On receipt of the appeal notice the Department shall–

(a)notify the appellant and the district council in writing that it has received the appeal notice; and

(b)send a copy of the appeal notice to the district council.

(3) Where two or more appeal notices relate to the same veto, the Department may decide those appeals together.

(4) The appeal shall be determined by way of written representations to be made to the Department.

(5) Within 28 days of the date of the notice given by the Department under paragraph (2), the appellant and the district council may serve on the Department written representations in respect of the appeal.

(6) A copy of the representation made by one party to the appeal shall be sent by the Department to the other parties to the appeal and shall be accompanied by a statement explaining the effect of paragraph (7).

(7) Any party to an appeal to whom a copy of representations is sent under paragraph (6) may within 14 days of receiving them serve on the Department further written representations in reply, the Department shall send a copy of any such further representations to the other parties to the appeal, and then no further written representations shall be allowed.

(8) In deciding whether to allow an appeal, the Department shall take into account the following matters–

(a)the level of support (as evidenced by the result of the BID ballot or re-ballot, as the case may be) for the BID proposals, where such information is available;

(b)the nature and extent of the conflicts referred to in regulation 4 of the 2014 (Miscellaneous) Regulations;

(c)the structure of the proposed BID levy and how the financial burden of the business improvement district is to be distributed amongst ratepayers in the geographical area of the business improvement district;

(d)how the financial burden of the business improvement district may have been disproportionately distributed among ratepayers as a result of the selection of the geographic area or areas of the business improvement district;

(e)the extent to which the BID proposer discussed the BID proposals with the district council before submitting the BID proposals to the council under regulation 5;

(f)whether, after the date on which the notice pursuant to regulation 5(2)(a)(ii) is received, the district council changed any policy formally adopted by and contained in a document published by the council so that such policy then conflicted with the BID proposals; and

(g)the cost incurred by any person in developing the BID proposals and canvassing in relation to the BID proposals.

(9) As soon as reasonably practicable after a decision has been made, the Department shall send notice of their decision in writing to the appellant and the district council.

BID Revenue Account

11.—(1) Schedule 3 shall have effect with respect to the keeping of the BID Revenue Account

(2) Where the district council has more than one business improvement district, it shall ensure a separate BID Revenue Account is kept for each of the business improvement districts.

(3) This paragraph applies where BID arrangements come to an end (whether by reason of termination under regulation 18 or otherwise) and there is a credit to the BID Revenue Account which, after deducting a reasonable sum for the cost of administering the arrangements for crediting or refunding the amount, would provide a credit or refund of at least £10 for each person who was liable to pay the BID levy immediately prior to the end of the BID arrangements (in this regulation, a “previous levypayer”).

(4) Where paragraph (3) applies, the district council shall-

(a)calculate the amount of the credit to the BID Revenue Account (after the deduction referred to in paragraph (3) has been made) which is to be credited or refunded to each previous levypayer; and

(b)ensure the amount to be credited or refunded to each previous levypayer is calculated by reference to the amount of the BID levy each previous levypayer was liable to pay for the last chargeable period of the BID arrangements; and

(5) Where paragraph (3) does not apply, the district council shall carry the credit balance in the BID Revenue account to the credit of its general fund.

Administration of the BID levy etc

12.—(1) The district council in whose area the business improvement district is situated may appoint a person for the purpose of the administration, collection and recovery of the BID levy and any references in these Regulations to “billing body” are to that person.

(2) Where the district council does not appoint such a person it shall carry out the functions mentioned in paragraph (1) and any reference in these Regulations to the billing body shall be construed as a reference to the district council.

(3) The billing body shall, by the commencement date, provide for the administration, collection and recovery of the BID levy.

(4) Schedule 4 shall have effect in relation to the administration, collection and recovery of the BID levy.

Joint arrangements

13.—(1) This regulation applies to joint arrangements.

(2) The district councils concerned in the joint arrangements shall appoint a single billing body in respect of the business improvement district.

(3) Such a billing body appointed by the district councils under paragraph (2) may be one of those councils, another council or some other person.

(4) for the purposes of regulation 15, and paragraphs 8 and 9 of Schedule 4, reference to the district council shall be read as a reference to the district council which shall, for the purpose of the joint arrangement, keep the BID Revenue Account.

Alteration of BID arrangements without an alteration ballot

14.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) to (4), BID arrangements may be altered without an alteration ballot where the arrangements include a provision to that effect.

(2) No provision mentioned in paragraph (1) may alter–

(a)the geographical area of the business improvement district; or

(b)any liability for, or amount of, the BID levy.

(3) Where paragraph (1) applies, the BID arrangements must include a provision describing the procedure to make the alteration.

(4) The procedure referred to in paragraph (3) must include, where there is a BID body, a consultation between the BID body and the district council.

(5) Where the BID arrangements are altered pursuant to this regulation–

(a)the district council shall ensure the BID arrangements (as altered) are made by the time those BID arrangements (as altered) are to come into force and shall send a notice in writing explaining the reason for and the effect of the alteration to each person liable for the BID levy; and

(b)sections 11 to 14 of the 2013 Act, regulations 12 to 17 and Schedules 3 and 4 shall have effect from the date the BID arrangements (as altered) come into force as if a reference in each of those provisions to “BID arrangements” were a reference to the BID arrangements (as altered).

Alterations of the BID arrangements following a ballot

15.—(1) Where there is a proposal to alter–

(a)BID arrangements and those arrangements do not include a provision allowing for the arrangements to be altered without a ballot; or

(b)the geographical area of the business improvement district,

the BID body may alter the BID arrangements in accordance with this regulation.

(2) An alteration of the BID arrangements under this regulation is not to come into force unless the alteration proposals are approved by a ballot of the non-domestic ratepayers who are to be liable for the BID levy under the BID arrangements (as altered) (“an alteration ballot”) and they are not to be regarded as approved by an alteration ballot unless–

(a)the number of votes cast in favour of the BID proposals exceeds the number of votes cast against the alteration proposals, in the same manner as calculated for the original arrangements under section 7(3) of the 2013 Act; and

(b)A exceeds B in the same manner as calculated for the original arrangements under section 7(4) and (7) to (10) of the 2013 Act,

but provided that the alteration proposals may specify that alternative voting conditions will apply to the alteration ballot, as they could (had they been specified) have applied to the original ballot in terms of section 8 of the 2012 Act.

(3) Where BID arrangements are altered pursuant to this regulation

(a)the district council shall ensure the BID arrangements (as altered) are made by the time those BID arrangements (as altered) are to come into force; and

(b)sections 11 to 14 of the 2013 Act, regulations 12 to 17 and Schedules 3 and 4 shall have effect from the date the BID arrangements (as altered) come into force as if a reference in each of those provisions to “BID arrangements” were a reference to the BID arrangements (as altered).

Termination of BID arrangements

16.—(1) The district council may terminate BID arrangements where–

(a)in the opinion of the council, the BID body will have insufficient finances to meet its liabilities for the current chargeable period and the council has–

(i)offered the BID body a reasonable opportunity to arrange for financing the shortfall or for a reduction in the works or services under the BID arrangements which is sufficient to offset the shortfall; and

(ii)given those persons who are liable to the BID levy an opportunity, at a public meeting, to make representations in relation to the termination of the BID arrangements; or

(b)the council is unable, due to any cause beyond the control of the council, to provide works or services which are necessary for the BID arrangements to continue and the council has (where there is a BID body) consulted the BID body and conducted a consultation with such representatives of the business community for the geographical area of the business improvement district as the council considers appropriate.

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), the BID body may terminate the BID arrangements where–

(a)the works or services to be provided under the BID arrangements are no longer required; or

(b)the BID body is unable, due to any cause beyond its control, to provide works or services which are necessary for the BID arrangements to continue.

(3) The BID body shall take no steps to terminate the BID arrangements until it has consulted the district council and conducted a consultation with such representatives of the business community for the geographical area of the business improvement district as the council considers appropriate.

(4) The district council shall notify the BID body in writing of its intention to terminate the BID arrangements under paragraph (1) at least 28 days before the date of the termination.

(5) The BID body shall notify the district council in writing of its intention to terminate the BID arrangements under paragraph (2) at least 28 days before the date of the termination.

(6) Where BID arrangements are terminated under this regulation the district council shall, as soon as is reasonably practicable, give notice of the termination in writing to each person liable for the BID levy and the notice shall include an explanation of whether a repayment under regulation 15(4) is to be made.

(7) In the event of a disagreement between the district council and the BID body in relation to whether circumstances have occurred under this regulation that would enable the termination of BID arrangements, the matter shall be referred to the Department for determination as to whether those circumstances have occurred.

Information

17.  The district council and the Department of Finance and Personnel shall supply the ballot holder with any information they require for the purposes of carrying out their functions under these Regulations.

Electronic communication of requests, applications or notices

18.—(1) Subject to paragraph (3) and without prejudice to section 24(2) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954, any notice or other document required or authorised to be served on or sent or given to any person under the provisions of these Regulations may be served, sent or given, in a case where an address for service using electronic communications has been given by that person, by sending it using electronic communications, in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph (2), to that person at that address.

(2) The condition mentioned in paragraph (1) is that the notice or other document shall be—

(a)capable of being accessed by the recipient;

(b)legible in all material respects; and

(c)in a form sufficiently permanent to be used for subsequent reference,

and for this purpose “legible in all material respects” means that the information contained in the notice or document is available to the recipient to no lesser extent than it would be if served or given by means of a notice or document in printed form.

(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any notice required or authorised to be given to or served by a billing body on any person under paragraph 2 of Schedule 4.

(4) Where a person uses electronic communications to transmit any notice or other document for any purpose of these Regulations which is capable of being carried out electronically, he shall be taken to have agreed, except where a contrary intention appears, to the use of such communications and that his address for that purpose is the address incorporated into, or otherwise logically associated with, the notice or document.

Sealed with the Official Seal of the Department for Social Development on 20th May 2014

(L.S.)

Michael Daly

A senior officer of the Department for Social Development

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