Retailer: voting was flawed

Jill Pattle, Far from the Madding Crowd
Jill Pattle, Far from the Madding Crowd

Claims have been made that statements issued by local BID manager, Stewart Ness, are misleading.

We previously reported on one local business owner’s anger over an invoice he had received and the iniquity of permitting some of the Burgh’s largest multi-national chain stores to be exempted from either of the BID areas.

Following our story on Hunter’s Garage, we were contacted by Jill and Derek Pattle, owners of Linlithgow’s book and gift emporium ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’.

They said: “Stewart Ness claims “the majority of businesses voted in favour of the BID” and “over £320,000 to be contributed by West Lothian Council will massively improve the economic environment” are very misleading statements.”

For the town centre BID’s vote, there were 54 votes for Yes and 45 votes for No out of a total number of 174 possible votes.

But the 54 Yes votes included the multiple votes granted to West Lothian Council – for the likes of the Burgh Halls and Low Port on the High Street, plus additional votes for Historic Scotland and Annet House, both of which struck “sweet-heart” deals to reduce the levy.

Therefore, at least 12 of the Yes votes did not come from High Street businesses, the method by which the Linlithgow Town Centre BID Yes vote was ultimately succesful.

Jill added: “The majority of the “active participating businesses” in the Linlithgow Town centre BID vote were categorically against the imposition of what they believed was a back door increase to their Council Tax.”

It has also been claimed that the council investment of £217,000 into Linlithgow over five years will be substantially consumed by the administration costs.

Derek Pattle said: “Un-fortunately, the Linlithgow town centre BID is now 140 days old and there has been no communication from either the manager or any of the newly-appointed directors.”

The BID website has not been updated since September 1 2014.

The Facebook page has had only one update since September 2014 with the exception of three Advent Fayre images, an event organised by Linlithgow Community Council.

Linlithgow town centre BID chairwoman Anne Gibson said: “We are confident the Linlithgow Town Centre BID will deliver real projects that will have benefits to this area.

“To date, there has been over £20,000 invested through the BID in areas with new striking festive lighting, a festive Linlithgow promotion, support for Linlithgow’s Ale Trail and sponsoring the Advent Fayre.

“We believe the extra £320,000 investment by West Lothian Council and the money raised by the levy, which will stay in Linlithgow, will greatly benefit the town and its businesses.

“The majority of Linlithgow businesses who took part in the vote said yes to establishing the BID areas.

“There are strict rules set down by the Scottish Government with regards to establishing a BID such as the minimum turn-out required and these were followed.

“Some administration costs are inevitable with any project of this scale but this will be kept to a minimum by sharing between the two areas to ensure the vast majority of the levy funding will be spent on delivering projects of real benefit to Linlithgow.

“We accept that im-provements are required to our online and social media platforms with an online presence sub-group recently formed to address this area.

“A newsletter, detailing upcoming and previous projects will also be delivered in the coming weeks to keep business informed.”