Concerns over the inclusion of the Tesco superstore into the Elgin Business Improvement District (BID) took a new twist last night with further ‘fixing’ claims being made by a local shop owner.
The owner of the Baggs store at St Giles Centre, David Cairns, has been leading calls for an investigation into the way in which the Elgin BID boundary has been redrawn to allow Tesco to enter the ballot over the future of the BID.
Shop owners are to be balloted in November to decide if the Elgin BID is to continue in operation for a further five years.
However critics, including Mr Cairns, say that the process has been ‘gerrymandered’ in favour of allowing Tesco into the process so as to ensure a positive outcome.
On Monday it was revealed that Elgin BID had called a meeting with dissatisfied business owners to discuss any issues they might have and explain the work being carried out by BID.
However, last night Mr Cairns told insideMoray that he had further information that “discredited the entire scheme”.
Mr Cairns said: “I have learned that although Tesco have a rateable value of £1.5million and a 1.5% levy fee would equate to a £22,500 contribution to BID, a new rule has been introduced that places a cap of £10,000 on the levy.
“No other business in Moray has a rateable value above £660,000 so no other business will benefit from this cap other than Tesco.”
The shop owner, who has already won a legal battle aimed at forcing him to pay the Elgin BID levy, insists that with Tesco now being included in the ballot the decision on the future of BID is assured – and that leaves smaller businesses such as his with no hope of objecting or being excluded from the scheme.
Mr Cairns added: “It is my view that Elgin BID must have spoken to Tesco and had been told that the fee was too high – and so the new cap on levy was brought in to accommodate them.
“I am now calling on the whole board of the Elgin BID to resign over this fiasco. They and the whole scheme are discredited – and to take this action with two councillors on the board who are there to ensure fair play stinks to the high heaven.
“There should be an independent enquiry called into the conduct of the Elgin BID board and I call on them all to resign.”