Meeting called to discuss Elgin shopkeeper concerns over BID

Two Elgin businessmen who have called for an end to the Elgin Business Improvement District are to meet with representatives from the scheme to discuss their concerns.

Funeral director Mark Watson and shopkeeper David Cairns have called for the exclusion of supermarket giant Tesco from the ballot to decide if Elgin BID is to continue for a further five years.

The pair represent several businesses who are unhappy at the supermarket chains inclusion in the ballot, claiming that Elgin BID have been changing the boundaries to ensure the scheme continues.

With the rateable value of business premises giving more weight in the ballot to larger stores, Baggs store operator Mr Cairns says that the BID board only changed the original boundaries to exclude Tesco five years ago as they had said they did not wish to take part in the scheme.

However, a recent change of heart by Tesco has brought about another change in the boundary to include the retail giant.

Mr Cairns, who has already won a legal challenge on unpaid levies under the scheme, confirmed that the Elgin BID board had requested a meeting. He said: “It seems that where we differ is over the fact that BID became constitutional against a democratic census.

“We say that BID is not and can never be democratic while such blatant gerrymandering of boundaries goes on.

“The BID board seem to want to stress that they are only trying to do the best for the town – and I’m not disagreeing. I do disagree strongly with how successful they tell us they have been.”

Mr Watson meanwhile called on Elgin BID to “do the honourable thing” and drop Tesco from the ballot to be held in November. He said: “What they are trying to do now is manipulate the vote.”

Elgin BID manager Gill Neill insisted that they took the concerns of all their members “very seriously”.

She said: “It was agreed to offer to meet Mr Watson and Mr Cairns to discuss their queries fully – this offer will extend to any business who wishes to discuss BID.”

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