'Good BID-ance – and Christmas isn't cancelled after all'
- Credit: Polly Hancock
As has been reported in some depth, the Hampstead Business Improvement District (BID) has at last been vanquished.
That is rather than get a royal hiding in its own ballot, it unceremoniously slunk out through a side door.
But now it’s gone, there are two big questions on everyone’s lips:
1. Will the BID’s board and management company, as it is obliged to do, return all remaining funds back to the 243 businesses forced to pay it since 2016?
Answer: No one seems to know how much money was left in the BID’s kitty when, on the August 1, 2021, it folded. It was meant to return any remaining funds to all those forced to pay it. But no one has yet seen a penny nor even been informed as to what is to be done with whatever funds remain. So as the Beatles once put it: "All the money’s gone, nowhere to go…"
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2. However will Hampstead survive without a BID?
Answer: Hampstead did pretty well for 1,000 years prior to five measly years of BID and, barring Armageddon, will do just as well for the next 1,000 years.
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One thing’s for sure, no one will be missing the BID’s Christmas lights which had, frankly, become like those one might expect to have found in a small Soviet satellite state in the mid-70s.
Nor will we miss its Christmas Fair: six hours, once a year, of tourists milling about buying pretzels from other tourists, daft enough to pay the BID several hundred quid for a tatty little stall.
Nor the flower baskets which, in a High Street full of lush, green trees were barely visible. Nor indeed the BID Ambassador, that poor soul who knew nothing about Hampstead, standing forlorn on a street corner wondering what the hell she was doing there.
And, of course, last but not least, those oh-so-essential invoices with threats of summonses attached to them — however will Hampstead’s businesses, shops, pubs, charities, schools and NHS surgeries ever manage without them?
Happily, the Hampstead Village Voice has already obtained sponsorship for the Christmas tree and is running a competition whereby every shop in Hampstead will be encouraged to make an effort with it’s Crimbo lights so that, in theory, a unique, eclectic, Christmassy vibe shall prevail — without the need to fritter up to £100k a year on BID administration costs. Good Biddance!
There is a full O[BID]TUARY in the horribly glossy Hampstead Village Voice, at newsagents now £3.
Sebastian Wocker is editor of the Hampstead Village Voice.