Following Andover town council’s decision to withdraw support for the Business Improvement District (BID), the Directors of a newly formed Andover BID company have given their response.
Steve Godwin, the BID manager told Love Andover, “The directors are extremely disappointed at the decision the town council made at their recent meeting.
“In not supporting the BID they [Andover town council] are going against their own statement of creating a thriving and viable place for businesses to grow as this is exactly what BIDs are about.”
The Andover BID says it’s clear on its priorities and is speaking to businesses about its aims and objectives as set out in their business plan. They claim such priorities “came from businesses in the first place”.
BID manager Steve Godwin was appointed after having 5-years’ experience of working with the local business community in Salisbury, where the BID was elected for a second five year term.
At Thursday’s Annual Council meeting of Andover town council, the new administration agreed to “withdraw support” for the BID.
Mr Godwin says, “There are nearly 300 BIDs in the UK and they are proven to be a successful mechanism for supporting businesses and helping towns and cities to thrive.”
In April Love Andover ran an online poll asking how people felt about the way the Andover BID were operating. 93% said they felt their instance on paying a year’s worth of enforceable levy within a few weeks was unfair.
A BID is legal process which once started is in place for 5 years before it goes back to its electorate for a re-ballot. Andover’s BID was ‘elected’ within a maelstrom of controversy. The majority of businesses in Andover voted against the BID, many claiming ‘immoral use’ of borough council votes.
The BID directors confirm that the “Process of levy-collection is with Test Valley Borough Council [TVBC] and, in line with legislation, the local authority administer this process and advise us that returns are being satisfactorily received.”
Mr Godwin was asked how many of the over 200 local businesses paid their levy demand to TVBC by the May 1st deadline, he told Love Andover, “I don’t want to go into great detail at this stage of the BID because we are literally just over one month into delivery.”
Following recent complaints to Love Andover from levy payers that Andover BID is using its resource to promote businesses not only outside the levy-payers’ area, but also outside Andover… BID directors say, “Our social media has only recently launched so we are tailoring it to the local Andover community and the town and are taking into consideration all feedback to reflect changes that are required which means that there will be continual development aimed at promoting the town centre.”
Following complaints from locally owned businesses who are forced to pay the new levy, Love Andover reported that Andover BID was promoting events and businesses in Weyhill.
Despite this concern from local businesses, the Andover BID (whose website continues to be offline at the time of writing) continues to promote businesses not only outside the levy area, but also outside Andover.
Andover publican Vicki Thorp who is both a town and borough councillor comments, “There are pubs within the BID area! Why the BID manager sees it appropriate to promote pubs that are in competition with those paying his wages is a disgrace.
“He’s taking town centre money and using it to promote outsiders’ companies. It’s fundamentally wrong.
“If you take town centre business money, it should be used explicitly to the benefit town centre businesses.”
Councillor David Coole said at Thursday’s town council meeting, “If non-paying BID Levy businesses are taken to court by TVBC for non-payment of the BID Levy, there will be at least 7 borough and 15 town councillors who could go to court and speak in the defence of businesses being prosecuted.
“We may be joined by hundreds, if not thousands of angry local people.”
“Andover does not want the BID.”