Hull Council votes through a levy on small businesses

November 28, 2012 11:08 AM

Last year, a vote was held in Hull on whether to retain the Business Improvement District (BID) in the city for another 5 years. To be approved, BID proposals must receive both a majority of votes cast, and a majority of rateable value with businesses in the area. Local Authorities are also eligible to vote. Of the 596 votes cast, 318 (53 per cent) were in favour with a majority of rateable value also in favour.

Given the closeness of the result, the TaxPayers’ Alliance sought to find out how Hull City Council had voted through Freedom of Information requests which were initially refused on the grounds that the ballot was secret.

A few weeks ago however, the council bowed to the pressure and concluded that it was in the public interest for the information to be made available.  It turns out that the council voted in favour of retaining the BID with its 8 per cent block of votes. So, had they voted no or left the decision to the local businesses affected by the levy, the proposal would have been rejected. The council then promptly issued a press release explaining why it voted “yes.”

The council’s rationale for voting in favour of retaining the BID claimed, amongst other things, that the 'Eat Drink Enjoy' colour dine brochure hadhelped raise awareness of the offering in the city. The Council also said supporting the installation of Christmas lighting was evidence of the BID’s success.

If the BID provided value for money and was so good for business, it wouldn’t have required the council’s block of votes to force through its renewal. Apparently this council, like others, think they know how to spend local businesses money better than the businesses themselves.

It beggars belief that during these challenging economic times, with almost one in four shops vacant in Hull city centre, the council sees fit to force through what is essentially an additional tax, against the will of local businesses that create wealth and employment.

Legislation should be amended to prevent councils burdening businesses with more costs at a time when they face sky-high business rates and a litany of other taxes. The Hull vote shows that while larger businesses may get value from additional security and cleaning provided by the BID, smaller ones consider them an unaffordable luxury. They are the ones with the experience of getting value for money, not town hall politicians.Last year, a vote was held in Hull on whether to retain the Business Improvement District (BID) in the city for another 5 years. To be approved, BID proposals must receive both a majority of votes cast, and a majority of rateable value with businesses in the area. Local Authorities are also eligible to vote. Of the 596 votes cast, 318 (53 per cent) were in favour with a majority of rateable value also in favour.

Given the closeness of the result, the TaxPayers’ Alliance sought to find out how Hull City Council had voted through Freedom of Information requests which were initially refused on the grounds that the ballot was secret.

A few weeks ago however, the council bowed to the pressure and concluded that it was in the public interest for the information to be made available.  It turns out that the council voted in favour of retaining the BID with its 8 per cent block of votes. So, had they voted no or left the decision to the local businesses affected by the levy, the proposal would have been rejected. The council then promptly issued a press release explaining why it voted “yes.”

The council’s rationale for voting in favour of retaining the BID claimed, amongst other things, that the 'Eat Drink Enjoy' colour dine brochure hadhelped raise awareness of the offering in the city. The Council also said supporting the installation of Christmas lighting was evidence of the BID’s success.

If the BID provided value for money and was so good for business, it wouldn’t have required the council’s block of votes to force through its renewal. Apparently this council, like others, think they know how to spend local businesses money better than the businesses themselves.

It beggars belief that during these challenging economic times, with almost one in four shops vacant in Hull city centre, the council sees fit to force through what is essentially an additional tax, against the will of local businesses that create wealth and employment.

Legislation should be amended to prevent councils burdening businesses with more costs at a time when they face sky-high business rates and a litany of other taxes. The Hull vote shows that while larger businesses may get value from additional security and cleaning provided by the BID, smaller ones consider them an unaffordable luxury. They are the ones with the experience of getting value for money, not town hall politicians.

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

The sugar tax and the public finances

6:00 AM 05, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Have we had too much austerity?

10:57 AM 23, Nov 2016 Alex Wild