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Pub landlord: I’d rather go to prison than pay Hampstead BID levy

'I was never consulted on the BID. I did not vote and nor did I have the ­opportunity of voting for its adoption'

22 March, 2019 — By Tom Foot

A PUB landlord who is defying a controversial business levy says he is prepared to go to prison for his cause, writes Tom Foot. Jimmy McGrath was prosecuted by Camden Council after he refused to pay Hampstead Business Improvement ­District fees.

The BID, which works by levying businesses to make high street improvements, was launched before Mr McGrath took over the King William IV pub. Collected by the ­council, the charges are ­legally imposed on all businesses in Hampstead following a ballot in ­September 2016.

After challenging the prosecution at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Mr McGrath said: “I’m not paying, and I’ll go to prison if I have to. They will have to come and handcuff me. “I wasn’t in Hampstead when this BID was introduced. I think we had a good argument.”

His witness statement, handed down to the court on Monday, said: “I was never consulted on the BID. I did not vote and nor did I have the ­opportunity of voting for its adoption. I have ­spoken to other businesses in Hampstead and verily believe that there are many businesses that have not been paying this rate. As far as I am aware only me and my partner have ever been prosecuted.”

A judgement on his BID challenge is expected on April 29. Meanwhile, the pub was shut down on Friday by Camden Council following a pest control inspection. Mr McGrath said: “I don’t think it was connected. Pest control said they found some mouse droppings. It’s a 200-year-old building. Hopefully it will be back open on Friday night.”

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