BID war breaks out among Lanark town traders

Lanark BID team celebrate victory
Lanark BID team celebrate victory

The ‘Yes’ side in the campaign to turn Lanark into a Business Improvement District were celebrating victory this week while the “No” side threatened legal action to overturn the result.

As reported in the Gazette, the Lanark Development Trust’s Discover Lanark arm has been running the pro-BID campaign, committing the town’s businesses to almost all paying into a central pot for general town centre improvments.

It is claimed that this will raise a million pounds over the scheme’s initial five years, £200,000 of it being pledged by Border Biscuits boss John Cunningham.

The six-week campaign came to an end on Thursday with the results of the BID vote.

Of the 380 local businesses sent ballot forms, 208 voted (55.6 per cent return rate). BID said that the “Yes” votes represented a total of £5,144,650 in rateable value of property while the “No” voters’ totalled £1,738,725.

Discover Lanark chair, Graeme McLeish commented; “We are delighted the businesses of Lanark have recognised the opportunities presented by the Discover Lanark BID.

“We now have a mandate to put in place a structured plan of action to make the improvements to trade and tourism Lanark so desperately needs.

”We urge all businesses to work together with the wider community to make Lanark a better place to live and work.”

However, a spokeswoman for the dissenting businesses said: “We would like to acknowledge the overwhelming support received from many aggrieved retailers in Lanark who are opposed to a local tax being imposed on them via Discover Lanark BID.

“The statistics simply don’t add up and being self congratulatory over a yes result is too early, as there are 28 days for formal objection to stop the tax being implemented.”

She said that a committee had been formed to overturn the vote. Anti-BID campaigners have said that they feel that the voting system favoured big rateable value businesses - which were generally pro-BID - against the medium andsmall traders.