Council unhappy about annual levy

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A TOWN council has become the latest ‘business’ to criticise a request to pay an annual levy to a town centre initiative.

Bid4Bury was set up 12 months ago after a majority of the businesses in Bury St Edmunds town centre voted to invest in it collectively, to make improvements to the town to attract more business.

The initiative, which funds marketing for businesses, pays for a uniformed on-street presence to reduce crime and assist visitors and continues to make new investment in Bury, is funded through a supplement which is paid in addition to business rates.

Any business with a rateable value of £10,000 or more is required to pay 1.75 per cent of that value to the organisation every year.

And Bury St Edmunds Town Council is not exempt, having been requested to pay £280 for the period April 2011 to March 2012.

“We’re not a business, we’re a public service,” said Cllr David Nettleton, at a meeting of the Town Council’s finance, policy and resources committee on Wednesday.

The committee will recommend to the full town council next month that payment of the levy be postponed until ‘full verification’ has been given about what the money is being used for and whether the town council should be included as a ‘business’ .

Nineteen business have been taken to court this financial year for non-payment of the levy which, Bid4Bury chief executive Mark Cordell said, Suffolk County Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council both pay.

“I can’t deliver all I want to deliver if members don’t pay and it’s not fair to those that pay promptly,” he said.