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Hampstead BID co-chair insists he’s not jumping ‘a sinking ship’

Butcher says he will still be an ambassador for scheme as levy vote draws near

26 March, 2021 — By Harry Taylor

THE co-chair of a business group has stood down, just months before a referendum on whether its controversial levy system will be renewed.

Philip Matthews, the owner of Hampstead Butcher and Providore in Rosslyn Hill, said he was stepping back from the Hampstead Business Improvement District (BID) due to time commitments, and rejected a view that he was jumping from a “sinking ship”.

“I’ve just been tied up enormously and I felt I didn’t have the time it deserved over the next few months,” said Mr Matthews, whose food shop also has branches in West Hampstead and Muswell Hill. “I’m still available as an ambassador and a supporter of the BID.”

Els Bauer remains the board’s chief. Its day-to-day running is outsourced to Primera Group, which manages the scheme through its manager Marcos Gold. BIDs work by taking an extra levy from traders beyond business rates and using the money to make improvements that should bring in more shoppers.

But in Hampstead, where one has been in place since 2016, opponents have questioned whether they get value for money. One of them, William IV pub landlord Jimmy McGrath, refused to pay until the BID took him to court and he lost his challenge. Voting ballots will be returned to eligible businesses by July 26, with votes having to be sent in by July 29.

The New Journal understands that among the proposals being discussed is making smaller shops, charities and schools exempt from what is currently a compulsory charge. Battle lines are set to be drawn shortly ahead of the vote.

Posters and a campaign strategy is already being discussed by a group that wants to oust the BID.

Camilla del Maestro, who owns jewellery shop del Maestro by Camilla in Heath Street said: “If the BID was going to support businesses, then it should have been during the pandemic, but instead it’s never been quieter.”

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