Traders call for axe to fall on new Bid4Bury group

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TRADERS have hit out at a town centre initiative and a levy imposed on them to fund it.

Independent businessmen and women have called for the Bid4Bury organisation to be axed as they say the levy is a further blow to trade and its services should be provided by the local authority and police.

Under the initiative, shops and retailers with a rateable value of £10,000 and over are asked to pay a 1.75 per cent levy on top of their business rates to fund projects such as marketing, street rangers and new investment.

An idea has been floated by some traders to form a ‘renegade’ group to refuse to pay the levy but this could result in legal action.

Nineteen businesses have been taken to court this financial year for not paying the levy.

On Monday, more than 30 people attended Bid4Bury’s annual general meeting at The Apex and a majority expressed their concerns.

After the meeting, Geoff Styche, who runs Olivia Benn on Angel Hill, said: “Their objectives are all aspects the council should be operating. It’s another expense we don’t need when the business rates have gone up year on year.”

Liz Sneezum, a partner at Sneezums, in Cornhill, with her sister Yvonne, thought the levy should be reduced to 0.75 per cent. She said: “I went along with everything Bid4Bury were rooting for but I felt what they were highlighting our local authority should already be giving us.”

John Balaam, who runs Balaam’s Music in Risbygate Street, has set up a Bid4Bury levy payers group on Facebook for people to discuss their feelings about the initiative.

He said: “It’s yet another imposition on small businesses. It should be dismantled at the first available opportunity.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bid4Bury, said he understood their concerns.

He added: “I appreciate that at this time people feel very challenged in the business environment. I implore those businesses to have a conversation with me. I can work with them and make their business trading opportunities better than they are now.”