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Council unlikely to vote on Newtown's BID decision

 
Created on 12/02/2020 @ 13:16
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A county councillor and chairman of a Business Improvement District (BID) is disappointed that Powys County Council (PCC) will abstain when it comes to a crucial vote on Newtown's BID.

A report discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday updated members on the work going on the BID process, in both Brecon and Newtown.

BID is a defined area within which businesses are required to pay an additional tax known as a ‘levy’ in order to fund projects within the district’s boundaries.

At the moment, a postal vote is taking place amongst Brecon businesses to decide whether to go ahead with the idea or not. The vote is set to finish on Friday, 21 February.

But Powys County Council, a ratepayer in Newtown and Brecon, said it would not take part in the vote taking place in Brecon.

It means it is likely to abstain from a similar vote that is expected to take place in Newtown this summer following controversy over the management of the BID in the town which has delayed matters.

Minutes after PCC confirmed it would abstain from the postal ballot, Cllr Iain McIntosh and chairman of the Brecon BID, said: “PCC would only have had seven votes cast out of 393 in Brecon.

“I really don’t think that they would have skewed the process or dominated over the town had the council voted to support the BID. This is very disappointing.”

Earlier PCC corporate director of Economic Development and Environment, Nigel Brinn, said: “In terms of success, it needs to have the majority of (business) rate payers supporting the BID, in relation to our recommendations, we feel it’s appropriate for businesses themselves to decide.

“Of course, we are rate payers and would effectively get a vote or several votes. But given that this is slightly detached from us and the proposal is led by the business community, we will support the process but abstain from the vote.”

Council Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, said: “It’s quite complex as in different towns there are different areas included. The industrial area in Brecon is not included, just the main street.”

Cllr Harris added that the industrial area in Newtown is part of the BID.

Portfolio holder for Adult Social Services Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, said: “The effect of the BID would be a small but not insignificant increase in costs to local businesses.

“This must be a business driven project. Because of the heft of our properties in the area, if we were to weigh in we would have a significant effect. I have felt very uneasy that we would be effectively skewing the process because of our vote.”

“I’m 100 per-cent supportive, I think BIDs are a good way forward, but for us to use our fire-power would have been fundamentally undemocratic.”

Cllr Harris agreed and the councillors voted in favour of the recommendation.

Newtown’s BID ballot is not expected to take place until June.

 

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service

 

 

 

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