The leader of a proposal to see Buxton become part of a Business Improvement District (BID) says they bring ‘genuine commercial benefits’ - ahead of a plan to see the controversial organisation voted upon.
Roddie MacLean, chairman of business organisation Vision Buxton, believes a Buxton BID could be ‘one of the best’ despite growing opposition to them following reports of ‘failures’ in other UK towns.
A BID is a defined area within which businesses are required to pay a fee to fund projects within a district which will benefit them.
They have been criticised across the country for rocketing levy fees and a lack of transparency over how the money collected is spent.
BID-opposing group Buxton’s Opposition of BID Scheme claim they represent ‘over 100 local independent traders’ who oppose the concept of a BID in Buxton.
In a letter addressed to High Peak Borough Council a spokesman for the organisation wrote how ‘(BIDS) do not offer anything more than what you as the council currently provide’.
However Roddie, who is now hoping to apply for £40,000 in funding from the government’s Bid Loan Fund for a business plan, consultation and ballot on the plans, says ‘some great, energetic businesses’ in the town are behind the proposal.
Vision Buxton carried out a feasibility study in February last year which found 341 businesses eligible for the two per cent levy could raise up to £1m over a five-year period.
Smaller businesses would start at a contribution of £100 per year while larger independent traders would pay around £340.
Roddie said: “Buxton is a reasonably cohesive geographical area and there are enough businesses in that area to make a difference.
“That would mean £1m to be spent by local businesses on things they think are issues.
“The vast majority (of BIDS) choose to renew after five years - there are failures but you learn from the failures and there is no reason why a Buxton BID couldn’t be one of the best.”
This years’ government BID Loan Fund - applications to which would have to be paid back by levy payers once the BID is established - have only just been made available.
However with a local election set to take place in May Roddie believes it will be unlikely that the ballot will take place until afterwards.
A spokesman for anti-BID group Buxton’s Opposition of BID Scheme said a levy on businesses would hit them hard at the worst time.
He said: “Our concern is that Buxton’s traders are struggling with the rising costs of retailing and with trends altering such as the closures of big high street names the burden of the small and medium retailer has never been bigger. In the last budget the chancellor afforded small businesses a reduction in business rates and created the Future High Streets Fund - allowing councils to apply for funding to improve town centres to the sum of £2 million per town.
“High Peak Borough council has confirmed they made an expression of interest which negates any need for Vision Buxton’s BID proposal.”