Unhappy Hampstead traders to hold meeting on getting anti-BID ballot campaign underway

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears

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

Unhappy traders from Hampstead will meet later this month in an effort to beat the Business Improvement District (BID) and its levy.

The BID has courted controversy since it was backed in a referendum of traders in 2016. It has been criticised for requiring schools, charities and an NHS doctors' surgery to pay it. It provides street cleaning services and flower baskets, and negotiates on behalf of businesses collectively. It also runs the Hampstead Village Christmas Festival.

One of the meeting's organisers, Sebastian Wocker, has been an outspoken critic of the BID. Sebastian said: "It's important that this time there is a concerted effort from the business community to turn up and vote in order that business can be free to manage their own business without being coerced into paying something without agreeing to do so.

"The main thing is to make businesses aware This time there will be two campaigns, not just one."

In April the landlord of the King William IV pub, Jimmy McGrath, lost a court case after refusing to pay the compulsory annual fee. His solicitor Robert Griffiths QC argued that bill had been improperly issued, but District Judge Julia Newton said the correct information had been supplied by the council.

Mr McGrath, who took over the pub in 2017, confirmed to this newspaper that he was appealing the verdict at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.

Credit-card sized leaflets circulated by the "BID Abolishment Campaign" call the BID "immoral, bad value and redundant."

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Marcos Gold, the new BID manager, took over the reins in February. His predecessor Caroline Goldsack, promising a more open approach.

Philip Matthews and Els Bauer, co-chairs of the BID, said in a statement: "Delivering value for money is at the heart of the BID offer and we look forward to updating our levy payers on the BID's progress at the upcoming AGM on October 23. Our work is open, transparent and steered by local businesses in accordance with the plan established at the inception of the BID." They pointed to costings and projects listed on the BID website.

The meeting will take place at Hampstead Community Centre on October 17, from 7pm.