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Skate Shop Summonsed for Non-payment of BID Levy

Published on: 20 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 23 Feb, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

The independent skate shop in Jeffries Passage, Decade, has been summonsed to court for non-payment of the Business Improvement District (BID) levy.

Greg Foster, owner of the independent skate shop, Decade, received around £35,000 (taxable) in lockdown grants.

The £588,000 levy (2019 figures) is the funding for Experience Guildford, the organisation set up under the BID to promote the town and represent over 550 small and large retail members in the town centre.

Decade owner, Greg Foster, a long time critic of Experience Guildford, did not attend the court for the £152 bill and told The Dragon he did not want to make any comment.

Posts on the social media platform, Instagram, set out his opposition to the mandatory levy saying that it was a “tax on local businesses to pay for a marketing company who provides a security force [town rangers] who currently remove folks from the town centre due to Covid reasons”.

Click on the image to enlarge in a new window.

Instagram posts have been encouraging people to sign a national petition on the government website to give businesses the right to opt out of the BID. The petition currently has over 1,700 signatures.

CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters, responding to the petition, asked whether it would be “fair that some pay for this benefit while others do not?”

She said: “I believe this year more than ever stakeholders have realised they can call any of us at any time and ask for our support. We are more versatile than a “marketing company”.

She listed their activities including “creating a multi-agency group to re-open the town centre as reassuringly and safely as possible”, town rangers, free training and partnering with Surrey police on crime prevention. She said that they had helped more over 200 independent and small businesses to access grants and “supported the 70 businesses still operating in the town during lockdown”.

Lead councillor for economy, John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said 85% of businesses voted for the BID in 2018. He said: “GBC collect the levy on behalf of the BID at 1% of a business’s rateable value, but have no influence in the setting of this rate or any ability to waive payment of the levy.

“Charges for 2020 range from £125 to £18,000. 13 Jeffries Passage has a rateable value of £15,250 resulting in a 1% charge of £152.50 or just under £3 per week.

“The last levy payment was due in February 2020. In partnership with our BID, we suspended recovery for anyone who had not paid until September 2020 due to the pandemic.”

(See also Indie of the Month: Decade, the independent skate shop)

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