Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Having first discussed the potential for Business Improvement Districts here in Northern Ireland with a number of involved stakeholders not long after beginning my term in this Assembly, it is with a sense of fulfillment that I can welcome the progression of this legislation.
“There is currently little in the way of formal regulation to standardise potential BID schemes, and so our community traders and patrons repeatedly find themselves faced with difficulties in establishing boundaries, securing local government support and obtaining contributions from prospective beneficiaries.
“This Bill will provide a number of statutory provisions to enable BIDs to operate under a legislative charter, giving additional rights and protections to those it serves to benefit, and bringing us further in to line with what is already in operation throughout Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
“The intent and end goal of this legislation represents a huge step forward for community business precincts throughout Northern Ireland.
“I know that there is a lot of interest into how this piece of legislation could have a positive impact on businesses right across Northern Ireland. Groups such as the Ballyhackamore Traders Association, pioneered by local businesswoman Brenda Shankey, have already begun to plant strong seeds of communal development and cooperative improvements, engaging local residents and harvesting a renewed sense of community to the ultimate benefit of traders, and it is my hope that this is something that can be built upon further in the future with the onset of this legislation.”