Message to Linen Quarter Levy Payers

20th March 2020

To all Linen Quarter Organisations:

We wanted to write to our constituent organisations during this unprecedented health, social and economic emergency to set out how Linen Quarter BID is responding, and how we intend to support our collective members.

Our No 1 priority is public safety and to minimize the spread of Covid-19 we have postponed our vibrant events programme for the next three months. This includes the Ciclovia Cycling Festival on 29 March, our inaugural Health Week from 29 March – 3 April; our monthly networking drinks, Friday Skive; Get Creative family event in May, and the Flax Foodie Festival in June. However, we fully intend to deliver all these events later in the year, subject to the latest government advice.

Second, our year three invoices are due to go out at the end of March. 100% of the money that we raise is spent supporting the Linen Quarter, but we are also taking three tangible steps to help our levy payers:

1. Many small businesses will be hardest hit and are less likely to have reserves. For that reason, if you are a small business trading from premises with a net asset value of less than £10,000, we are providing a welfare credit equivalent to your year 3 invoice. This will provide savings of up to £150 and will positively benefit a quarter of our 330 levy payers.

2. Businesses in the hospitality or retail sector are facing the most immediate impact from Covid-19. We are therefore extending six months credit for these businesses, which means invoices do not need to be paid until 1 October. Any other private sector business or charity will have credit extended to three months, with no payments due until 1 July. These measures will positively impact over 200 organisations.

3. We are also setting aside a hardship fund for those organisations most seriously affected. If your normal turnover is less than £1 million per year and you have experienced financial distress, then please get in touch with Charlotte@linenquarter.org and she will be happy to discuss.

It is also worth noting that the 2020 Revaluation increased many net asset values across the Linen Quarter, in particular for hospitality where it rose 50% or more. We would therefore like to highlight that the BID will be using the pre-2020 figures for its year 3 levy – thus alleviating a sharp increase in costs for many businesses.

Third, many of our services continue to be delivered:

Safe & Secure: LQ Street Beat, our dedicated PSNI team, will continue to patrol the area. In particular they will keep an eye on premises that may be temporarily closed because staff are working from home. If you would like to get in touch with the police about crime reduction, or to advise them of any changes to your premises, then please e-mail PC Dale Fisher: StreetBeat@psni.pnn.police.uk You can also discuss any of these services with the BID by contacting Christiaan@linenquarter.org

Clean & Sustainable: LQ Clean Team will be working throughout the district to remove graffiti, power wash walls and pavements, and provide enhanced litter picking. They will also be tasked to look for any signs of damage or vandalism across the quarter. If you would like Clean Team support outside your premises then please e-mail Charlotte@linenquarter.org

Promoted & Vibrant: As soon as it is appropriate to do so we will invest £30k, in conjunction with Belfast One and Destination CQ, to promote our evening economy. This will focus on cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, retail and cultural venues, with the aim of driving back footfall to the City Centre. In the meantime, if you have any initiatives that you would like us to promote then please get in touch with Leeza@linenquarter.org.

Covid-19 represents an existential threat to both our society and economy. LQ BID support the public safety initiatives across our workplaces, schools, homes and social lives. However, it is imperative that we emerge from this crisis with our livelihoods intact, and the BID will work with other representative groups to ensure organisations get the support that they need. This includes providing administrative support to small businesses to help apply for grants and other forms of assistance that they are entitled to.

If there is any other way in which you feel LQ BID could assist during this challenging time then please don’t hesitate to e-mail the MD, Christopher McCracken: Chris@linenquarter.org

Yours sincerely,

Paul Johnston, Chair
Christopher McCracken, MD