A local retailer has not created their much welcomed Remembrance Day window for the first time in five years.
International Furniture on Black Swan Yard has spent almost £30,000 on creative window displays since 2013, but has now said that the potential additional cost of a Business Improvement District (BID) means the company has to re-budget.
Company owner Kevin Farrer told Andover Radio that because of the potential levy on his rates, he cannot supply the much anticipated display.
The BID ballot ended today (Thursday 8th November). If voted in, businesses will be forced to pay an additional 2% of their business’ rateable value. Much argument has been had about the way the BID has been ‘forced’ on local companies.
The month long voting process on whether local businesses want a BID area closed today.
After taking over the old Habels furniture store at Black Swan Yard, Mr Farrer has shown his thanks for the British armed services with impressive displays. He says people are attracted to the town centre because of his Remembrance and Christmas displays.
The businessman told 95.9FM Andover Radio, “Basically I have taken the view that with the BID looming, and if a yes vote goes through, its going to cost me more with this stealth tax, so I can’t keep spending money to encourage people into the town.
Economic Development and Tourism Portfolio Holder, Councillor David Drew has previously told Love Andover, “A BID is led by business with the council having a supporting role. If the ballot is successful, an independent BID company will enable town centre businesses to take responsibility for managing and promoting Andover town centre, working with the Council and other agencies.”
Mr Farrer comments, “For me, forecasting that I may have to pay this stealth tax, I will have to do something this year to safeguard my business for the future.”
“Sadly the remembrance window won’t get done this year. That’s the same for our Christmas windows, too.
“The amount of my own money I spend that brings people into the town will be eaten up by this potential enforceable levy.”
Mr Farrar, whose forebears served their country in both World Wars, told Andover Radio he has had to reconsider the altruistic efforts he has provided for the past five years, “I have just had to cut the costs I spend on encouraging people to the town and trim the budget down. No BID is going to save the High Street, it’s myself and other retailers – those who actually run companies here – that will save the high street. Rather than paying someone else to ‘save our own high street’. I just don’t get it…”
Images of some of International Furniture’s previous window displays are below:
EDIT 12.24pm Friday 9th November 2018: Please note we have amended the title of the article, as the previous wording “Poppy Tribute removed…” may have suggested that there was a window display in 2018, but it had been recently removed. The intention was to suggest that the much anticipated and welcomed annual display will not go ahead.