ORGANISERS hoping to introduce a Business Improvement District (BID) to Andover could start formal proceedings as early as this week – according to a recently published plan.

The hypothetical timetable, seen by the Advertiser, suggests the project’s steering group could contact the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, this week, asking to begin the BID process.

According to the plan, the letter is a legal requirement and is the first formal stage towards forming a Business Improvement District.

The steering group will then undertake a series of tasks, including a ballot and launching a BID website, with the hope of officially introducing the scheme to Andover in April 2018.

One of the leading figures behind the project, Nigel Terry, says the timetable is a rough guide to how the steering group want to proceed.

However he added that the plan is just “hypothetical” at this stage and that the group have no plans to begin formal proceedings this week.

He said: “It’s just hypothetical at this stage and there is no meeting this week.

“We are due to have a BID meeting next week.

“At that meeting we will be getting as many business together to ask whether or not we should write a letter to the the Secretary of State.

“We have been having meeting after meeting and I think we are a little bored of having meetings, we want to move forward.”

A Business Improvement District is a designated area, such as Andover town centre, in which businesses pay a special levy based on their rateable value.

The money collected from the levy is controlled by an Andoverbased BID company, which uses it to fund events and improvements to the area in the hope of increasing footfall.

This can include core services such as additional cleaning and security or more wide-ranging projects such as recycling, business support, improved infrastructure and promotion.

Neighbouring communities such as Basingstoke and Salisbury already have BIDs in operation.

Mr Terry added: “This can only be a good thing for Andover.

“Local businesses will be making an investment in the town itself to improve Andover over and above what the council already do.”

However the proposition of an Andover BID has been met with opposition by some local business owners.

Owner of Black Swan Yardbased International Furniture, Kevin Farrer, has labelled the possibility of a levy as a “stealth tax”.

Mr Farrer, who has run his business in Andover for over 25 years, said: “We’ve got businesses leaving the town centre and now we are being asked to find another one and a half per cent of our rateable value.

“All this will do is push more businesses out of the town centre.

“Some people can’t afford another one and a half per cent on top of business rates.

“To me it’s another type of stealth tax on hard working business owners.”

Broadway Garage owner, Tony Hooke, has also voiced his opposition to the scheme.

He added: “I’ve already said I won’t pay it. “I’d happily go to prison for not paying it. I already pay my business rates and I can’t even get my bins collected.”