Is there any legal basis on which we can contest the BID levy? This was a question asked by someone who contacted us. There are some cases (can’t think of any at the moment) where a BID can be contested but it is not easily done.
In one case in Bayswater in City of Westminster, London small businesses did refuse to pay the BID levy. The Westminster Chronicle reported:
Some traders are now refusing to pay this levy, which is set at two per cent of their rateable value, as they claim the BID was not set up properly.
Of the 445 businesses, just 89 – or 20 per cent – voted in favour of the BID.
However, because only 152 businesses turned out to vote, a majority of 59 per cent was recorded, ensuring that the BID would go ahead.
Traders claim they were not properly informed that the vote was taking place, or that it would mean paying an extra two per cent on top of their rateable value.
They also say the responsibility for improving the area should fall to Westminster Council rather than the BID.
These claims have been denied by Westminster Council, which administered the election process and collects the levy on behalf of the BID, and the Bayswater BID.
However, they were taken to court and made to pay the levy.
The Bayswater Business Improvement District (BID), set up by the Council in January 2010, is a continuing scandal: small businesses which refused to pay the 2% levy on top of greatly increased rates, because they see zero benefit to them, were bludgeoned to pay up in June by Court action. But the story is not over yet: local Liberal Democrats plan to survey all businesses in the area to learn how many would support either excluding small businesses from the BID or winding the whole thing up