CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Dozens of businesses launch campaign to ‘terminate’ Hampstead BID

Massive opposition to controversial Hampstead business levy

27 January, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Jimmy McGrath’s legal challenge to the BID is due in High Court on Wednesday 

SEVERAL businesses have for the first time publicly called for the the Hampstead Village Business Improvement District (BID) to be scrapped.

Fifty-eight owners or managers of companies including the Keats Pharmacy, Catto Gallery, Hampstead Clinic and the popular Creperie de Hampstead have signed a “petition to terminate” the controversial business levy.

Under the BID scheme, businesses have to pay an extra charge on top of rents, rates and council tax that is supposed to be used to make improvements to the area.

But the petition say the companies are “outraged” about “empty promises” and “bad value for money” from the BID while calling for a “refund”.

It also declares “solidarity” with landlord of the King William IV pub landlord, James McGrath, whose legal challenge against the BID will be heard in the High Court on Wednesday.

Camilla Delmaestro, secretary of the new BID Abolishment Campaign Hampstead (BACH), said: “The local businesses, charities, state schools and NHS surgery were not made adequately aware that were they to neglect to vote in the 2016 ballot, they would still be forced to pay this private limited company.”

She added: “We have a petition by local businesses calling Hampstead Village BID Ltd / Camden to refund the businesses, charities, state schools and NHS surgery which never agreed to participate or pay.”

A referendum was held in 2016 where Hampstead businesses voted in favour of setting up the BID. It has however since then faced constant criticism from smaller shops and traders, and the Hampstead Village Voice quarterly magazine, who have questioned how the money is spent. Another vote will be held in 2021 about whether the project should go ahead.

BID manager Marcos Gold told the New Journal: “I understand people don’t like that we were democratically elected, but we were. If you look at the recent referendum for example, people were saying the turnout wasn’t big enough, the threshold wasn’t big enough – but we are here and the job goes on. I want to draw a line under the sand and I won’t hold grudges. I’m here to have a chat, to listen to the concerns, to understand what the issues are.”

He added:  “We post everything we do on Twitter and on our website. I am in village often. People can stop and have a chat with me. I am always having conversations with business. My job is to make Hampstead a more viable place to do business.”

He said that some of the debate about the BID was “a bit misguided”, adding that the BID had been successful in saving businesses money by a collective waste collection deal with a company called First Mile.

A coffee cup recycling project was in the offing.

Mr Gold added: “We have saved 82 businesses upwards of £25,000. They wouldn’t have had that without us advocating as a voice. For many, the margins are so thin that every penny counts. People say the businesses is costing large sums, but £20-40 a month for most is not a lot.”

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