For starters it's nothing to do with 2023... What is LeedsBID doing for you & your city?

Leeds is a unique city; vibrant and innovative and steeped in a history it doesn’t wallow in but adapts to make use of today and in the future. A regular lament, however, is the inhibition and self-doubt we appear to have as a city. We don’t want to, or don’t know how to blow our own trumpet; which is crazy when you look at the wealth of individuals and organisations working to bring and do amazing things to and for Leeds.

Sometimes it just needs the right person or people to grasp an opportunity, and the rest falls into place. Looking at the work that LeedsBID has done over the last two years, maybe that is happening now and right before our eyes?

Sometimes it just needs the right person or people to grasp an opportunity...maybe that is happening now and right before our eyes?

Formed in April 2015, LeedsBID was the UK’s 200th “Business Improvement District” and the largest outside of London. It consists of 1052 Leeds-based businesses & organisations who pay a levy based on their size, which is then invested in ideas and initiatives which aim to improve the experiences and standards in Leeds, adding value to the city.

The focus purely on the square-mile of Leeds city centre covered by LS1 and LS2 postcodes is something you might bemoan given that many of Leeds’s most high profile issues, such as transport infrastructure and inner city poverty, lie slightly further afield than the centre. It's valid criticism of the city as a whole, but the aim of LeedsBID is to make Leeds a more welcoming environment to residents, visitors and commuters. Undoubtedly the nucleus of Leeds life is its city centre, so getting the heart of it right has to be the place to start.


Bringing events, people and attention to Leeds is a key part of what LeedsBID does. Staging the 2015 MOBO Awards was a prestigious coup for the city and a statement of intent from the LeedsBID team at an early stage of their existence. It has just announced the MOBOs are returning to Leeds again in 2017, bringing the nation’s press and entertainment industries with them. Likewise, last year saw the ARIAS Awards (Audio & Radio Industry Awards) land at the First Direct Arena, and they have signed up for another two years, showcasing the city to the whole of the radio industry for the few days around this year’s October 19th event.

A new initiative called ‘Music:Leeds’ aims to nurture and promote people making music in the city, with a launch event at Leeds Town Hall on November 29th, and of course, 2018 will see the second Leeds International Festival, expanding on the inaugural affair which attracted 17,000 people to the 35 events in the festival programme. It is also working with popular comic art festival Thought Bubble to bring it into Leeds city centre and connect with a bigger audience.

Last year it helped spread Christmas cheer further than the usual reaches of Briggate’s christmas lights and Millennium Square’s German market by organising a trail of more than a dozen projects by local artists: from turning the Corn Exchange into the Northern Lights to David Shearing’s humbling “Christmas with us” installation. This year’s unveiling on November 1st will, naturally, be bigger, better, and even more festive.


Life’s not all about the grand gestures, though, and LeedsBID saves some of its finest work for the things that when done well, people don't realise are being done at all - such as providing a warm welcome for the thousands of people who use the train station every day.

A branded welcome to the city has been designed for the station by local artists, as well as East Street Arts and Nomad Clan’s collaborative ‘Athena Rising’ artwork on the side of the new Platform building - the tallest mural in Europe. ‘Welcome Ambassadors’ are a team of 14 people acting as ‘human signposts’, engaging with nearly 1000 people every day, offering help, directions and expert local knowledge.

Last month alone our Ambassadors personally welcomed 12,726 people into #Leeds
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On top of this, a team of ‘Street Rangers’ are like eyesore-vigilantes, a highly visible team of street cleaners who carry out a rotational deep clean of key entrances, pedestrian routes and areas of heavy footfall in and around the city centre; literally making the pavements shine.

In The Pipeline

With surface improvements to the city taken care of, LeedsBID’s attention is turning to deep-seeded issues; rather than simply airbrushing problems and applying a false gentrification, resources are being used to tackle the root cause of underlying evils.

Two new projects include ‘Big Change’, an initiative to help homeless people on the streets of Leeds through facilitating spontaneous, dynamically-distributed donations with a JustGiving-style model. ‘Evening Economy’ is a plan to work with other organisations to make Leeds safer at night, including the use of ‘Evening Ambassadors’. The results are more tangible and enduring. It’s all about making a lasting impression, and where people are concerned, that can make all the difference to how a city is perceived.

One of Andrew and The Welcome Ambassadors @eat.leeds launch yesterday #EatLeeds
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Almost everywhere you look in Leeds city centre – from the deckchairs and pop-up music laid on at lunch time for ‘Summer In The City’ to the Digital Jobs Fair to the controversial Eat Leeds Restaurant Week – there are examples of where LeedsBID has done a series of small things that add up to a really big thing.

Making a lasting impression and keeping Leeds one step ahead of the rest is achieved by proactive people doing the hard yards. And not for the glory, but for the rest of us.