A BUSINESS owner in Chippenham is fighting to stop the Business Improvement District from getting a second term in the town.

The Chippenham BID has just completed its first term in the town, and will be holding a month-long ballot from September 26 - October 24, where the 379 businesses inside the district will choose whether they want to re-instate the BID or not.

Edward Kirk, who runs Scholars in Chippenham,on The Causeway, is very much against a second BID term, because he believes there is a lack of transparency.

He said: “I have tried to find out how my levy is spent, but it is impossible, they are a Private Limited Company, which hide their operating costs within budgets.

“Levy payers are not going to believe the BID’s stated overheads of £40,400, when there are four members of staff, dedicated offices and collection charges. I have no doubt that their actual operating costs are well over £100,000.

“I will be voting no, as there remains no transparency, no accountability and no benefit to my business.”

Anthony Dolman, owner of Dolmans, on New Road, is also against the BID, as he has recently been made aware his levy will be increasing if there is another term.

He said: "My BID Levy for the term is increasing from £2,500 to £2,750. The BID should notify all business of the charges they will legally have to pay and be completely transparent where our money is spent. Nothing the BID has done has helped my business. I will be voting no at the ballot."

Businesses in the district have to pay a mandatory levy, dependent on their rateable value, which can range from £200 for a small business, to £13,000 for a large business.

Under a second term, the levy system is changing so that businesses will pay 2 per cent of their rateable value, in a yearly payment to the BID.

This change will see the levies drop for 86 per cent of Chippenham business, Chippenham BID have claimed.

This cash is used to fund events for the town, renovate the streets, and help promote businesses, in an attempt to increase footfall for the town.

Although there is opposition for the BID, Kathryn Crosweller, the manager, is confident they will be voted in for a second term.

She said: "There are a lot of reasons why I think Chippenham businesses should vote yes for another BID term.

"Town centres are having a really hard time nationally, and for Chippenham to see the low vacancy rates and positive footfall that we have is testament to the town fighting against the tide.

"It is also essential to point out, there is nothing else that will take the place of the BID if the vote is a no.

"This is Chippenham’s only opportunity to guarantee £1.6million of investment into Chippenham’s town centre over the next 5 years.

"Despite what businesses may have been saying about the BID's transparency, it is really important to me that we are transparent with local businesses."