Angry Darlington traders in court for refusal to pay levy

ANGRY traders in Darlington who objected to paying a town centre business levy have been ordered by a court to pay up.

The annual levy was introduced last July after a majority vote amongst businesses saw the town centre become a Business Improvement District (Bid) to help fund improvements to the town.

The contribution is the equivelant of 1.5 per cent of each individual property’s rateable value - but there were objections amongst traders who did not vote for it.

An application was made by the Bid company, Distinct Darlington, to ask the court to grant 45 liability orders meaning those traders who had not yet paid their contribution must do so or face further court action.

The application was granted at Darlington Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, February 20), despite impassioned pleas from traders who said they could not afford the extra sum and had never wanted the Bid in the first place.

Dave Nicholls of The George pub in Bondgate told magistrates: “We’ve had to release 50 per cent of our staff, turnover has reduced, prices are going up and this is another slap in the face - another unfair penalty to be thrown at small businesses.”

The court heard that when 540 Bid ballot papers were sent out last March, 210 were returned with 130 in favour of the scheme.

Phil Brown, representing Bid, also clarified that in order for the vote to be classed as a majority, the combined rateable value of the properties included in the yes vote had to be more than that of those in the no vote.

The split was around £8m for yes and just under £5m for no.

Malcolm Royal of the It’s All About The Bag shop in Queen Street described the process as “a farce” and said he would appeal against being forced to pay the levy.

He said: “In all democratic societies throughout the world, and led by Great Britain, it is one person, one vote.

“Here we have the unfairness of the massive multinational companies having a more powerful vote than the small independent retailers – my vote is worth a fraction of what Marks and Spencers’ is worth and surely that can’t be right in this democratic world we live in.”

Presiding magistrate David Williams explained that if the Bid consultation and ballot process had been carried out to the legal requirements, then the court had no choice but to grant the liability order application.

The 45 recipients of the liability orders can appeal the decision or face further court action if they continue to not pay their bill.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:03pm Wed 20 Feb 13

DM1989 says...

looks like support is drumming up for these businesses http://www.facebook.
com/peoples.defencea
ssociation
looks like support is drumming up for these businesses http://www.facebook. com/peoples.defencea ssociation DM1989

11:15pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Homshaw1 says...

The bid is a complete nonsense and does nothing for the town centre. The process is not open. Who voted? How many votes did the council have? Do doctors surgeries contribute (they're businesses) Who decided on who was on the committee? What exactly are these rangers supposed to do? What does the bid manager do? Why is there a Bid Manager and a Town Centre Manager? Why are rangers doing jobs previously done by Streetscene? One of the achievements claimed by the Bid Manager was sponsorship of retail awards but they were happening before bid. For my part I will boycott any business where staff or owners are on the BID committee
The bid is a complete nonsense and does nothing for the town centre. The process is not open. Who voted? How many votes did the council have? Do doctors surgeries contribute (they're businesses) Who decided on who was on the committee? What exactly are these rangers supposed to do? What does the bid manager do? Why is there a Bid Manager and a Town Centre Manager? Why are rangers doing jobs previously done by Streetscene? One of the achievements claimed by the Bid Manager was sponsorship of retail awards but they were happening before bid. For my part I will boycott any business where staff or owners are on the BID committee Homshaw1

9:14am Thu 21 Feb 13

oliviaden6 says...

Sounds like another job creation scheme for some nobody in the DBC chain of command at the Town Hall.
I am not a shop keeper but a shopper this is a further cost on businesses at a time when both sides of the coin are struggling to make ends meet the high streets are becoming waste lands driven by excessive rates greedy land lords and greedy councils. Not to mention PARKING CHARGES???
Sounds like another job creation scheme for some nobody in the DBC chain of command at the Town Hall. I am not a shop keeper but a shopper this is a further cost on businesses at a time when both sides of the coin are struggling to make ends meet the high streets are becoming waste lands driven by excessive rates greedy land lords and greedy councils. Not to mention PARKING CHARGES??? oliviaden6

9:27am Thu 21 Feb 13

jane1.r says...

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this feels like a legalised protection racket, like in Brighton Rock? If you own your business, you should be able to decide what you want to part of or not. The whole thing is as said above, jobs for the boys. Complete waste of money.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think this feels like a legalised protection racket, like in Brighton Rock? If you own your business, you should be able to decide what you want to part of or not. The whole thing is as said above, jobs for the boys. Complete waste of money. jane1.r

2:56pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Homshaw1 says...

"Is it just me, or does anyone else think this feels like a legalised protection racket"

Could not have put it better
"Is it just me, or does anyone else think this feels like a legalised protection racket" Could not have put it better Homshaw1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree