THE PHRASE ‘it’s a no-brainer’ is over-used. If you’re not familiar with it, it means “it doesn’t make sense not to” or “it’s such an obvious thing to do, you don’t have to think about it.”

Now, I would never advocate not thinking through any action you’re about to take – in my job I’ve seen too many people literally, physically or metaphorically come to grief as a result.

But there are definitely some issues where every thought channel you go down takes you back to the same conclusion.

For me, a clear example of that is the move to start a Business Improvement District (BID) in Bradford city centre.

A BID is a defined area within the city where a levy – typically one to 1.5 per cent – is charged on all business rate payers over and above their normal business rates. The levy is then used to develop projects or services which benefit the businesses in that area.

There isn’t really a limit on what those might be – other than the fact that they must be in addition to the services already provided by the Council and not instead of. There is categorically not, as some people have suggested already, any way the Council can hand over some of the statutory services it is obliged to provide and deliver.

Typically, BIDs will, for instance, provide an enhanced cleaning service, tidy up empty premises, make it easier for visitors to find their way around, provide floral displays, provide extra security such as cracking down on anti-social behaviour and street drinking, and organise events and festivals to draw in shoppers.

More than that, though, they provide a collective voice for the businesses within them, giving them more of a say on issues such as transport and parking and helping to lobby the Council and other public-sector bodies.

They can even help support businesses with negotiating bulk-buying discounts on items such as utility bills and insurance policies.

Where BIDs are in place, businesses have reported higher footfalls, reduction in running costs, better networking, better support from the council and police and even better staff retention.

There are already more than 270 BIDS in operation across the UK so, perhaps, we should be asking why Bradford doesn’t have one already?

The first one in England was set up in 2005, although the idea dates back to the 1960s when the first one was launched in Canada. They’re now all over the world.

On the face of it, it’s a simple process: a ballot of businesses within the defined area is organised in the hope of achieving a simple majority in terms of both the number of votes cast and the overall rateable value of the votes cast. Each business gets one vote for every property they own or occupy.

Assuming a majority is in favour, a not-for-profit company is then set up to manage the BID for a maximum period of five years, after which another vote would be required to renew it.

Bradford is particularly fortunate in that the team set up to win support for a BID in the city is being chaired by Ian Ward, general manager of the Broadway Shopping Centre, who chaired the BID in Liverpool.

There are almost 1,500 businesses with 10,000 staff in the Bradford BID zone which could mean about £500,000 per year being spent to improve and promote the city centre.

The process of winning support from businesses starts this Friday with a meeting for all those likely to be affected.

But there’s also a role here for those who use the city centre: who wouldn’t want safer, cleaner streets, less crime, fewer drunks and beggars, nicer shop fronts and walkways, better and more successful businesses encouraging others to invest here, and more events and entertainment?

If any of that appeals to you, you can also play a part in making it happen: every time you go into a shop, office, eatery or leisure venue, ask them if they’re supporting the BID?

It’s not an instant process: businesses will be surveyed about what they want from a BID in September, a draft plan will be put forward in the spring and a ballot staged in the autumn next year.

Given the experience of other towns and cities, Bradford can only benefit from getting this off the ground.

Surely that genuinely qualifies as a “no-brainer”?