Apathy leads to BID allegations

Jim Walker with BID document.
Jim Walker with BID document.

Concerns have been raised in Linlithgow over recent reports that the BID project has been backed by local businesses.

The Journal and Gazette has heard this week from Jim Walker of Walker Carpets in the High Street that of 210 businesses entitled to a vote on whether the project should be adopted or not, 111 simply didn’t bother to make their views known.

Jim said: “In fact, 54 businesses voted for the project, while 45 voted against it, therefore despite there only being 25.7 per cent of the businesses in the town centre who voted for the BID, all 210 businesses entitled to vote will now be subjected to this new levy for the next 5 years.

Jim also complained that the proposals were ambiguous at best, and the figures are very misleading.

He also said: “Some of the project features contained within the BID document are ouright nonsense. For example why should the businesses now caught up in this BID be paying for new street signage, which is the responsibility of the council, and why were certain areas, such as Stockbridge Retail park allowed to opt out?”

However, we have spoken with Stewart Ness, BID coordinator, who advised that the figures being used by those unhappy with the decision are flawed.

He said: “In the Linlithgow Town Centre ballot; There were 99 votes cast, 54 in favour and 45 against. This was out of 174 ballot papers issued.(Just under 57 per cent returned).

“In order for a BID ballot to be successful, there are certain thresholds that must be met. 25 per cent of the persons entitled to vote must do so, this is the “headcount” part of the ballot and 25 per cent of the total rate-able value of all the businesses in the area must vote.

“The turnout by headcount”, i.e. each eligible voter, was 47 per cent. An eligible voter can have more than one vote, but for the purposes of achieving the 25% minimum threshold each are counted once, regardless of how many votes they have.

“It’s also worth noting that the total rateable value of those who supported the proposals was 61%, which indicates the business plan had the support of the nationals and chains. Again, this is well above the minimum 25% threshold required by Scottish Government.”