The acting chairman of the Elgin Business Improvement District has said that shop owners in the city centre should rest assured that a ballot in November to decide if the scheme should continue will be “fair and democratic”.
David Robertson’s assurance came after a meeting last week called to discuss major concerns over the ballot after the city boundary was redrawn to include the Tesco superstore in the scheme.
When Elgin BID was first created five years ago Tesco had declined to take part – resulting in the city centre boundary being redrawn to exclude the superstore. That exclusion avoided a powerful ‘No’ vote from the store that could have put in jeopardy the creation of the scheme.
However, as revealed by insideMoray several shop owners were alerted to the fact that the boundary had been restored to include Tesco when the store indicated they wished to play an active role in the scheme.
In addition a cap on the levy charged to stores was ordered by the Elgin BID board, greatly reducing the financial contribution Tesco would be required to make.
Now in a statement released by Elgin BID in the wake of a ‘clear the air’ meeting attended by Mr Robertson, Elgin BID manager Gill Neill and small business representative Mark Watson, the BID acting chairman revealed that a request has been made to Tesco that they not take part in the forthcoming ballot.
[box] “With both Mr Cairns and Mr Watson’s agreement and backing we have written to Tesco asking them to abstain from the vote.” – David Robertson, Elgin BID [/box] Mr Robertson said: “Elgin BID is a fully transparent organisation who believe totally in the validity what we do.
“With both Mr Cairns and Mr Watson’s agreement and backing we have written to Tesco asking them to abstain from the vote.
“All parties or any other business who have concerns about Tesco’s vote carrying too much power should then rest assured that when the ballot takes place that the result will be fair and democratic.
“Mr Watson and Mr Cairns wanted clarification as to why there has been a maximum levy of £10,000 brought in for the second business plan.
“The board of Elgin BID have implemented this to ensure that any large business wishing to relocate into the BID Area would know exactly what their contribution would be prior to opening.
“It was confirmed to Mr Watson and Mr Cairns that Tesco would pay the maximum levy.”
Last night David Cairns, who has led a group of small businesses in questioning the decisions taken by Elgin BID in particular in relation to the inclusion of Tesco, responded by insisting that the BID should be helping local shops “take on the nationals”.
He said: “I am not and never will be happy about Tesco’s domination of the agenda and politics in this town.
“A BID is supposed to help local shops take on the nationals. Tesco were allowed out of their commitment five years ago and we would either have had no Elgin BID or would have had a BID company with an extra £110,000.
“There must be no allowances for Tesco or any other retailer. If the argument is that any national retailer may not take up a town centre site due to a BID levy, then surely there is an argument for no BID levy and no BID Company.”
Mr Cairns added that he welcomed the move to exclude Tesco from the ballot and hoped that many more businesses in Elgin would “see sense” and reject a second five years for Elgin BID.
The story so far:
Shopkeeper calls for wholesale resignation of Elgin BID Board
Elgin BID gets £365k despite growing disquiet from business owners
Meeting called to discuss Elgin shopkeepers concerns over BID
Campaign to vote ‘No’ to Elgin BID renewal
Editorial: Out of town store is part of the problem not the solution