St Albans hairdresser argues BID fees ‘too expensive for small businesses’
PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:47 06 June 2019
A St Albans hairdresser has argued that fees for the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) are too expensive for independents.
Owner of Hers N Sirs Hair in London Road, Emma Campbell, has spoken out about struggling with BID's yearly charge.
This is a compulsory levy for any businesses situated within BID's jurisdiction which funds events hosted by the not-for-profit organisation. It is 1.8 per cent of a site's rateable value, although any business valued under £10,000 is exempt.
At just over that threshold, Emma is obliged to pay the lowest possible annual fee of £200 - but is struggling to afford the premium.
She said following confusion with a payment plan, Emma received an enforcement fine of £600. Fearing a visit from bailiffs, Emma forked out the cash but is now confronted with this year's £200 bill.
She said: "I have lost count of the number of times I have told BID that I simply can't afford to pay it. It is alright for big business but not for us.
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"[BID] basically told me that I should go to a financial advisor to prioritise my payment. I am annoyed by that, that was the wrong thing to say. I have said I am struggling a little bit as a small business to keep afloat because times are hard for everybody, and my priorities are paying my rent and staff wages."
Situated at the edge of the BID district, Emma feels she does not get £200 worth from its events.
She said: "I feel upset and peed off because I feel like they are meant to be helping businesses to thrive but they are not - I haven't been helped through the whole thing. I feel let down."
BID run a schedule of events through the year, including the Time Turn Festival and Gin and Jazz event.
Manager of BID, Helen Burridge, stressed that businesses voted for the levy: "We explained this all [the payment process] to Emma over a number of occasions over the last two years and set up a payment plan to support her paying these in a timely manner that supported her business."
She said Emma did not take up an invitation to participate in the St Albans Advent Trail or apply for the Style St Albans fashion event.
"We have worked hard to support Emma and her team over the last two years and will continue to do so. We believe in the value for money offered by St Albans BID to our businesses," Helen said.
St Albans district council collects the BID fee but is otherwise separate.
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