Traders in revolt over levy hike

TRADERS in South Queensferry are in dispute over plans to raise the business improvement district (Bid) levy.

With only 186 non-domestic ratepayers liable to contribute, the Bid group, Queensferry Ambition, has had to bump up the levy to make enough cash to operate.

Despite a 63 per pent yes vote for the Bid last year, some businesses are refusing to pay. About 30 people are unhappy at being forced to fork out an average of 4.8 per cent of their non-domestic rateable value, when other Bids pay 1.2 per cent.

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Elsewhere, Bids are running into trouble. One English scheme has failed after a five-year run while in the Clarkston area of Glasgow, the Bid with the highest levy in the country has brought one restaurateur before sheriff’s officers for non-payment.

Architect Will Tunnell, a director of Queensferry Ambition, accepts there will be those who begrudge the levy. “But this is a chance to get proper funding and professional expertise, and everyone should back it,” he said. “We’ve got the Forth Bridge World Heritage application coming up, Homecoming Scotland celebrations and the Forth Bridges Festival, and we need to use all these events to promote South Queensferry as an attractive place to visit and stay. The Bid group is the only way to do that effectively.”

However, David Garthley, a local jeweller is now planning a legal challenge to the Bid levy.