Independent businesses have doubts about BID St Andrews

The steering group believes the BID will benefit St Andrews ' but it still has some way to go to convince a number of independent business owners.
The steering group believes the BID will benefit St Andrews ' but it still has some way to go to convince a number of independent business owners.
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Independent businesses in St Andrews are questioning the benefits of introducing a Business Improvement District (BID) to the town.

The BID process was launched last year and since then a steering group has been driving the process forward,including surveying the views of the town’s businesses.

When we decide the business plan for the BID it will be costed, published, fully communicated and we will get feedback before we go to the vote on it.

Ken Dalton, BID chairman

Now, however, independent business people are voicing concerns over the process, claiming insufficient information is coming out from the group.

And one retailer has suggested delaying a vote on the issue until January next year.

Peter Wood, of The St Andrews Wine Company, said he had questions about the BID process.

He added: “There are a lot of businesses who do not know about it and there needs to be an informed decision on the part of everyone who is going to have a levy charged.

“It might be better to delay the voting because it gives the steering group more time to consult and make the case for the BID and give businesses the chance to learn about it and make an informed decision.”

Natalie Anderson, of Elisabeth May boutique, called for “more communication from the group to independent businesses in answering questions and letting us know when meetings are to be held”.

She said: “We need to talk more.”

One retailer described the BID as “absolutely ridiculous” and said he was “furious” about it. He saw “no need” for a BID to be introduced in the town, despite knowing “hardly anything” about it.

The same retailer described a meeting held by the BID steering group in The Byre Theatre earlier this year as “the biggest waste of time I have ever seen”.

BID chairman Ken Dalton was quick to respond, explaining that the group had held two meetings recently with independent businesses to answer their questions.

He said: “One or two businesses have been looking at BIDs around the country – at the problems, not the successes – but I hope we have answered their questions.”

Mr Dalton recognised that many concerns were around the cost of the BID, but he promised: “When we decide the business plan for the BID it will be costed, published, fully communicated and we will get feedback before we go to the vote on it.”

He likened participating in the BID to investing in a business.

“If you make an investment in your business you make it because you think it is going to be to your benefit,” he said.

“If you don’t think the BID is a sensible investment, vote no.”

At present, the vote on the BID is scheduled for October, after being postponed from May 2015 when Fife Council suggested it should be separated from the general election.