Hampstead Village BID in the High Court: Pub landlord’s fight continues as other businesses rally against BID

King William IV landlord Jimmy McGrath with barrister Robert Griffiths QC. Picture: Sam Volpe

King William IV landlord Jimmy McGrath with barrister Robert Griffiths QC. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

With a Hampstead pub primed to take on the local Business Improvement District (BID) in the High Court on Wednesday, a number of business owners are stepping up a campaign for the BID’s abolishment.

More than a year after first bringing a case to Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court, Jimmy McGrath - landlord at the King William IV pub in Hampstead High Street - will continue his fight against paying the BID levy.

The levy is a charged added to business rates of organisations in Hampstead and collected by Camden Council - as per legislation - on behalf of the BID itself.

Mr McGrath was told to pay the £6,900 bill, which he had refused to settle, by magistrates in April 2019, but has appealed this and his case is set to be heard by two High Court judges.

He has told this newspaper: ""We are extremely confident that we will win and get it thrown out."

The landlord will be supported in court by members of the Hampstead BID Abolishment campaign, who have spent recent months gathering signatures in opposition to the BID and criticising its operation.

Camilla Delmaestro - who has run a boutique in Perrin's Walk for 11 years and is now secretary of the BID Abolishment Campaign - told the Ham&High: "I am not anti-BID in principle. They are all over the country. I just don't think it is needed in Hampstead. I will be at the High Court in solidarity. He [Mr McGrath] is not the only one who feels this way, he's just the only one who's been brave enough to say anything."

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Ms Delmaestro, one of the architects of an open letter and petition against the bid that has garnered upwards of 50 signatures, added

The BID's manager, Marcos Gold, told this newspaper: "My view hasn't changed: I am here to help business in any way they see fit.

"Whether that's meeting with them, helping with social media, holding events or doing practical things."

Mr Gold said the BID's raison d'etre had always involved being able to take advantage of collective bargaining to get better deals for businesses and he cited a waste management deal he said would save "82 businesses £25,000 a year".

Regarding the court case, he added: "I don't want to prejudice what will happen. But whatever the decision, we will mark a line in the sand and move on. At the end of the day I am here to work with the businesses whether they have criticisms or not."