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Rebel traders meet to discuss opposition to business levy

BID prepares for Christmas Fayre

31 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Pub landlord Jim McGrath fought the charge through the courts

INDEPENDENT traders have met to discuss ways to get a controversial business levy scrapped.

The group is preparing to “attack” the Hampstead Village Business Improvement District with a campaign.

The BID sees all Hampstead businesses – including schools and surgeries – pay a fee on top of rents and rates.

The money is spent on “improvements” – including hanging baskets and an “ambassador” to help lost tourists –
but many traders feel it is a waste of time.

Sebastian Wocker, who runs the Hampstead Village Voice magazine, has been campaigning against the BID since it was launched in 2016.

He said: “We have a bizarre situation whereby struggling businesses and charities that never signed up to this are paying thousands to Primera [BID management] and Welcome People [BID ambassadors] for services they haven’t requested nor require.

“The BID is pointless. All the services like flower baskets, extra pavement cleaning and Christmas lights can and should be paid for by the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum via CIL [Community Infrastructure Levy] money or the council.”

The BID held its AGM last week where members were updated on the project’s “achievements”, according to manager, Marcos Gold, which include jet-washing of pavements, flower baskets, a 20 per cent reduction in waste and recycling collection costs, stationing a “village ambassador” to welcome tourists to Hampstead and also organising the annual Christmas fayre.

Jim McGrath, landlord of the King William IV pub in Hampstead High Street, is appealing a court ruling that forces him to pay the levy.

A ballot of businesses will take place to see if the project should continue after July 2021.

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