Andover’s contentious Business Improvement District (BID) has lost the support of the town council.
At a town council meeting last night, under the control of the new Andover Alliance party, have withdrawn council’s support for the BID, while conceding to support BID-related events in the town centre area.
The Andover BID was ‘voted in’ last year following concern – and creating more dissent – from local businesses.
This week the organisation is being challenged as to why the levy payments from Andover high street businesses are being used to support companies based not only outside the levy area, but also outside of Andover.
Earlier this week, Andover BID used their social media to promote an event outside of the town centre.
Referring to the BID support for giving 12 months’ “rent free” to a new business, one angry local business owner within the BID levy area write to Andover Radio, saying, “This is disgusting. Existing businesses being taxed extra so new start ups get 12 months RENT FREE?!!!
“This is taking the p***! What if [that business] is in direct competition to us, or another business? How can that help?”
Much has been said about the way in which the ballot was conducted and that the BID was voted in by the use of votes cast by Test Valley Borough Council.
The BID levy payments were requested in April with the full amount of the annual levy demanded to be paid within three weeks (May 1st 2019).
Love Andover has asked BID Manager Steve Godwin how many businesses paid the levy by the deadline. The representative from Andover BID has yet to provide an answer.
Communication between the BID and local businesses has been historically poor. Mr Godwin previously told Love Andover that “communication would improve” with businesses and to the media. We have requested a response on the concerns raised this week. No response has been received.
At yesterday’s Annual Council meeting at the ‘Rendezvous’ on Union Street, after two amendments, Andover town council have “formally withdrawn any previously declared support” for the organisation. Previous councillors agreed to support the enterprise.
People on social media have previously suggested that maybe the local authority should remain neutral on the matter.
The Andover BID enforces a 2% levy on business rates for businesses within a specified area around the High Street. The income from the BID levy is supposed to be used to better the Andover town area. [The Andover BID website is offline at the time of writing].
Town Councillor David Coole said at last night’s meeting that Andover Alliance councillors would be prepared to go to court to defend the local companies who will be prosecuted for non-payment of the levy.