It feels like we are being scammed, to pay for someone’s salary

I received this email yesterday from a small business in Scotland. The writer was referring to Clacks First which was one of the first BID organisations in Scotland.

I have withheld the identity of the sender.

We are a small local business, who have just moved office.

We received a package (hand scrawled address) with various documents and an invoice for approx £25.00, that must be paid within 28 days ‘or else’. We were a little taken aback by this and expressed the view to the company (clacksfirst) that we do not wish their services or to be involved in their project. Their approach seems to be that we owe them money, because they and some local businesses had a vote and we must now pay them money.  It is only a small amount of money, but they want it for 5 years and it will increase, if we have the audacity to grow our business in the area.  It feels like we are being scammed, to pay for someone’s salary.

I replied

Thanks for getting in touch. I’m not familiar with how Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) operate in Scotland. However, I think the letter you describe about the £25 demand is strange.

Usually the extra money, the levy, you have to pay is paid direct to the local authority, or council, as an additional amount on top of your business rate. This levy is compulsory I’m afraid if the majority of businesses in your area have voted for it.

I would advise you to get in touch with your local council office and ask to speak to someone about the “BID levy” and find out if you are legally obliged to pay this levy. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer then you should contact one of your local elected councillors.

You are not the only small business to feel you are being scammed by these BID organisations. Other small businesses have complained about BIDs all over the United Kingdom and in the USA.

Sorry I can’t be of more help. I hope you get a satisfactory answer.

The Clacks First website does not seem terribly professional. There are parts of it labelled as “content to follow” and their latest newsletter is Spring 2009. Hardly confidence inspiring.

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About no2bids

A critical look at Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, and worldwide. Public and private space.
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