The Garrett Business Park Business Improvement District (BID) vote was counted yesterday. One of the powers a BID has is to charge an extra levy on business rates to be invested within the district.
The proposal came about after a lot of hard work from the business association and Angela Graham, one of the local councillors. Having visited the business park I could see why they wanted the BID to help them invest in the crumbling roads they had to use, so wasn’t surprised when the vote was successful.
However, I was astounded by the margin of victory for the ‘yes’ vote – a 68% turnout with a 90% yes vote. These are businesses, facing recession, voting for more taxation!
But, of course, what they have actually voted for is the right – for the first time – to see their business rates benefiting them. Up until now they’ve been paying into the national pot which is unfairly distributed to Labour’s friends in the north.
It’s a fairly common complaint I hear from businesses that business rates keep going up – and I have to explain that although the government makes Wandsworth collect them we don’t get to set them. It’s a ridiculous situation that really needs to be changed. Here in Wandsworth we give residents low council tax and excellent services, we should be allowed to offer the same to businesses.