Lanark shopkeepers stage revolt over levy

Lanark High Street; BID battleground?
Lanark High Street; BID battleground?

Some of Lanark’s shopkeepers and small businesses are joining forces to overturn a vote for what they see as an unfair new tax bill being slapped on them.

The Lanark Independent Business Group is forming to oppose the result of the ballot making the Royal Burgh a Business Improvement District (BID), impelling almost all shops and offices to pay an annual levy towards town centre improvements.

However, dissident businesses have cried “foul” on the ballot.

Acting chair of the group, Jillian Hill, said: “We feel the need to highlight issues we have come across in regard to BID. We have been speaking to many local traders and feel an open and transparent consultation was not carried out with businesses now liable to pay this enforced tax.

“Many businesses are unaware that regardless of any rates relief they might receive, they will still be required by law to pay this new tax.

“Many questions that they have are still unanswered and they feel ignored by the BID Steering Group of Discover Lanark.

“The problems with ballot papers either not arriving in the first place and also others having the incorrect details on them is surely enough to void this ballot.

“A total sum from SLC Lanark Vision and BID Development covering the 18 months consultation has already reached £48,770. The information in Discover Lanark business plan regarding ‘Unlock a £1 million pound pot for Lanark’ is misleading. There are no rainbows or leprechauns in Lanark, only hard-working traders with many already at their financial limit.”

The chair of the Discover Lanark BID Steering Group, Graeme McLeish, said: “We were delighted with the recent result which saw a majority of local businesses voting in favour of the plan. We are confident that by working together behind a joint vision for Lanark’s local economy, we can realise the type of positive results seen elsewhere through the BID model.

“We know that some businesses have concerns, but we intend to work hard to reach out and listen to those concerns.” and do what we can to address them.”