Progress made in BID wrangle

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STEPS were taken this week to resolve the ill-feeling between some local businesses and the recently-established Queensferry Business Improvement District (BID) Scheme.

It followed visits by
 Sheriff Officers to the town last week to chase up the late payments of levies one year after businesses in Queensferry voted to become a BID.

The BID scheme can source up to £500,000 in grants to boost tourism and implement strategies to increase business within the town.

Despite this, some businesses were opposed to the scheme and refused to pay the non-negotiable business levy to BIDs.

Malcolm Brown, chairman of Queensferry Ambition (QA), which is running the BID scheme said: “In this whole exercise of creating Queensferry Ambition, communication between the BID and businesses is vital.

‘‘We are pleased to say that we have now entered into a constructive dialogue with a number of businesses that have expressed concerns about the levy.

“In saying that, it should not be forgotten that a great number of businesses have already bought into the BID and have paid their levies as they instantly switched on to what Queensferry Ambition is trying to achieve for all businesses.

“We have listened to the concerns of a number of businesses and are in dialogue with City of Edinburgh Council to see if we can make levy paying easier with a staged payment arrangement. It is extremely important, as we enter an extremely busy and positive time for Queensferry, we all work together to achieve success.”

One businesswoman who initially refused to pay the levy, said: “It has caused a lot of stress. Economically, times are hard enough without having to pay any additional levy.”

But after this week’s meeting with BIDS members and Colin Keir MSP, who acted as a mediator, she added: “If we can come to some arrangement for monthly payments as opposed to annual it would help. Queensferry Ambition has also said it is going to assist in looking to reduce my utilities bills.”

Diane Brown, QA project manager added: “We appreciate that businesses have many questions about the BID levy and project activity. To improve communication, a series of informal weekly drop-in sessions are to held in the QA office, starting next Wednesday, May 1, 
between 5pm and 6.30pm. For Queensferry Ambition to work we need the businesses to be fully engaged.”