Business owners divided over whether North Notts Business Improvement District should continue for another five years

Campaigners are calling for North Notts BID to be banned, claiming it does not benefit businesses outside Worksop and Retford, and are urging businesses to vote ‘no’ ahead of the next ballot for the term 2022-2027.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 9:06 am

A campaign page on social media, called Ban the BID, includes businesses from a range of industries across Bassetlaw who would like to end the levy - which businesses pay and is based on one per cent of traders business rates over a year, if over £12,000.

This levy, which equates to around £700,000 a year from around 1,000 members, is put towards projects, services, training, support and other activities that benefit BID member businesses.

Campaign group spokesman Josh Turner, who said he is not a business owner but a ‘concerned citizen’, said: “The appetite for an anti-BID campaign in Bassetlaw had started the moment businesses started receiving a bill through their letter box with the threat of being taken to court.

Northern Garden Supplies owner, Sally Richardson, and employee.

“This is the last thing businesses need now more than ever when businesses are closing and the fear of another lockdown.

“We want to make the first steps to bringing people back to businesses and town centres around Bassetlaw by ending the levy and voting North Notts BID out at the 2022 ballot.

“North Notts BID has received millions in our businesses revenue but what has this been spent on apart from self advertising and salaries.

“We want our towns to become the thriving hubs of business that they once were and hopefully this is the first step in the right direction.”

Nigel Turner, retired owner of North Notts Arena, was taken to court for refusing to pay the North Notts BID levy from September 2019-August 2020. Photo: Cris Janson-Piers, jansonpiersimaging.com

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Former owner of charity North Notts Arena, Nigel Turner was initially invited as part of the BID steering committee.

He said: “My previous place of work was a charity, and is still a charity, and wholly funded by the local community, so I was against the community funding a business initiative.

“I refused to pay the levy, however, the court found in favour of the BID.

Worksop Savoy Cinema has picture-worthy angel wings in the window, courtesy of North Notts BID.

“There's a lack of transparency from the accounts, which in theory, it's not the BID’s money, it's the local businesses’ money they're spending.

“Surely, there should be some consultation with local businesses on how they spend it?

“So as far as the BID stands today, I am against the BID.

“However, if we have a BID which is transparent, which consults local businesses - all local businesses, not just potentially a slight few - then it can work, and it does work in other areas of the country.”

Sally Gillborn, North Notts BID chief executive

Sally Richardson, owner of Northern Garden Supplies, in Blyth which has been running for 43 years, said she would rather give her employees a pay increase than have to pay the levy.

When she received the brochure about the BID, she could not afford to pay the levy fee due after an unexpected road closure left customers unable to visit.

She said: “In hindsight, I should have read the small print, but I thought by not voting, I didn't realise my vote would be cast as a yes.

“By that time the road had opened up again and I could have afforded to pay, but I thought, ‘hang on a minute, what will be in it for our business?’

“We're approximately six miles from either the towns - Worksop or Retford, and I could see no gain for us.

“I didn't pay the first year and in the second year, they sent the bailiffs into our company, and I ended up having to pay £800 to the bailiffs.

Sally, who has to pay £150 to North Notts BID, along with £10,000 for business rates to the council, added: “The only thing that the BID has done for us is buy 25 Christmas trees off us to donate to local schools - a lovely thing to do, but how does that benefit the town centres?”

However, Wayne Gregory, the operations manager of Savoy Cinemas, which has a branch in Worksop, says he will be voting yes in the ballot.

He said: “They've given us access to certain services that we take advantage of. We use the maintenance man and gardener to keep the outside of the building looking nice.

“There’s also the events they do on the square outside the cinema, like the food festival and that’s ideal for us.

“Regardless of whether it’s to do with the cinema, it’s just getting people to the top end of town.

“They need the finance from somewhere and if the town is contributing to that, to make the area better and more appealing, and increase footfall, then that has to be money well spent.”

Chief executive of North Notts BID, Sally Gillborn, said she was aware of concerns and was keen to address them.

“While BID members are required to pay a levy, we know from business feedback that the value is more than recouped through the services offered and the footfall encouraged, which otherwise would be at a higher cost to those companies or would not be achieved at all," she said.

“This includes free access to a maintenance operative, free training courses, and large-scale events such as the North Notts FoodFest."

She said 28 events have brought more than 60,000 visitors to the town centres, while its free Wifi service have seen over 900,000 users.

A total of 62 CCTV cameras with ANPR units have been installed in larger industrial estates in Worksop and Retford, as well as blanket-covering all estates in Harworth and Tuxford.

She said the BID's operations are "transparent as legally required" and all spend and related activities are monitored by the private sector BID board, which has representatives from businesses across the district..

She added that members are communicated with regularly and an annual review - outlining activities and costs - is sent out to members and its accounts are fully audited.

Sally said: “BID members had a say on where they wished to see the levy money spent during the formation of the first BID business plan.

“We have again consulted with BID business members in preparation for the next business plan.

“We’re proud of the work that has been done to support the wellbeing and prosperity of the district and the businesses within it, particularly during a very difficult few years.”

Business owners are able to give their say on the new 2022-2027 business plan for North Notts Survey. Visit: http://ow.ly/Pk0b50F6qtR

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