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Pub landlord heads to High Court in rebellion against business levy

King William IV bar owner prepared to go to prison over charge

24 January, 2020 — By Tom Foot

THE landlord of one of Hampstead’s most famous pubs is due in the High Court next week as he continues his fight against a controversial business levy.

Jimmy McGrath, from the King William IV pub in Hampstead High Street, is appealing against a judgment at Highbury Magistrates’ Court last year that he should pay £6,700 in costs and fines to the Hampstead Village Business Improvement District (BID). He had failed to convince the court that he should not have pay annual BID charge because it was a “scam” and he had not been properly informed about the payments.

“I’m confident,” said Mr McGrath. “I think the magistrate found it difficult to go against them and the council. But I think this time it will be different.” He had said he was prepared to go to prison rather than pay.

BIDs are organisations that take a charge from all rate-paying business in an area and use the proceeds to improve the neigh­bourhood and encourage footfall. Failure to pay leads to a court summons from Camden Council.

Hampstead Village BID has in the past three years spent money on hanging plant pots in the street and recently hired a guide who stands outside the tube station redirecting lost tourists.

Mr McGrath’s technical legal argument is that the way he was billed made the claim invalid but this was rejected by a magistrate who said it did not make him exempt.

After the magistrates’ court judgment last year, BID manager Marcos Gold said: “The vast majority of the investment raised is channelled directly into projects, which are administered and delivered by a lean management team. “Looking at the last two years, well over 70 per cent of the levy raised has funded projects and statutory spending – this is all very clearly set out in the billing leaflet, which is available on the BID website.”

Seventeen businesses have also been summonsed for non-payment since 2016.

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