Hampstead BID vote preparations begin as levy changes are proposed

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Preparations are under way for voting by local traders on whether to reinstate the Hampstead Village Business Improvement District (BID) for another five years.  

Ballot papers will be sent out on June 26, with the result announced on July 30. A consultation is being held by the BID before it publishes its business plan – that will act as a manifesto – in April.  

Fewer traders will pay the compulsory levy this time if the BID, which aims to boost trading conditions but has divided local businesses, is retained.  

The majority of businesses will also pay less, as the multiplier used to determine how much they pay – based on the rateable value of their premises – would reduce from the 1.5% it is currently.   

The proposed changes would see the scheme’s budget fall from £240,000 to around £200,000. This would leave the Hampstead Village BID needing to focus on “the most crucial” areas of support such as marketing and social media, its manager said. 

Marcos Gold, manager for Hampstead Village BID. Picture: Polly Hancock

Hampstead Village BID manager Marcos Gold - Credit: Archant

Marcos Gold told the Ham&High: “What we have seen over the pandemic is that it's good to have a single voice for the business community.  

“From our perspective, yes the BID has had its difficulties, but it has been there to deliver on major projects that over the last five years have been very successful. Things like Christmas lights, flower baskets, pavement cleaning, the Christmas festivals.  

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“However much people like or dislike the BID those projects may or may not have happened if that wasn’t the case.”  

Marcos said the BID had worked with Camden Council – which is organising the ballot – to voice the issues and concerns of local traders. 

But the editor of the Hampstead Village Voice satirical magazine, which has long campaigned for the end of the BID, said it was “extortionate” and that it had “treated the area badly”.  

Sebastian Wocker at his desk in his home in Arkwright Road. Picture: Sebastian Wocker

Sebastian Wocker, editor of the Hampstead Village Voice - Credit: Archant

Sebastian Wocker said: “It is fundamentally wrong that any private business should be forced to pay another private business if they haven't first agreed to do so. 

“It’s wrong that the council is used by a private business, Hampstead BID Ltd, as a debt collector for a private business to force money from their businesses that don't want to pay it.  

“I can’t see how anyone can possibly think that's right.”