BUSINESS owners stormed out during a final meeting on the town’s proposed Business Improvement District (BID) before it goes to the polls.

Talks for an Andover BID have been in the pipeline for a year, and it is soon to go before town centre businesses to vote on whether to introduce the scheme in five weeks’ time.

Stakeholders met at Andover Guildhall on Tuesday evening, where tempers rose and resulted in some attendees walking out.

Concerns have been raised by independent businesses over a perceived lack of information during the process for the scheme which would see each unit with a rateable value over £10,000 have to pay a levy into the BID for the next five years, if it is voted in.

Butter’s Café owner Stuart Blake said he attended Tuesday’s meeting by chance after it was mentioned by a fellow High Street business owner at Wimpy.

Mr Blake said: “I sat and listened, and I’m afraid to say I walked out after listening to total rubbish.

“For us, none of the businesses really got heard. The biggest thing is they haven’t given anybody proper information.

“It is so vague.

“There was around 50 people at the meeting, all independents were concerned about this, it is a big deal. It has been badly organised and badly run.”

The meeting was organised to give more information about the BID, give feedback and hear from BID representatives from Winchester and Salisbury about what they have been doing.

Consultancy firm CMS has been responsible for sending out information and invites to local businesses within the BID’s proposed boundary area, but some have complained they did not receive the final consultation or other documents previously.

Chair of Andover BID steering group Lisa Armstrong told the Advertiser she committed to attendees who said they had not taken part in the questionnaire to have the opportunity to do so.

The business owner spoke to individuals after the meeting to address specific questions, and anyone who requested a questionnaire must return it by September 10.

Lisa added: “It was a passionate and at times aggressive meeting.

“Frustrations were evident from the onset which caused a number of people to leave early.

“Some left due to their negativity towards the proposal and others who were in favour of the BID but were frustrated with the fraying tempers which they felt unnecessary.

“I made it clear that prior to the ballot I will ensure all businesses will have the information they require or request in order to vote appropriately.”

A business plan, due to be released shortly, will incorporate findings from the latest set of businesses now voicing their feedback according to Lisa.

The voting period is scheduled to go ahead between October 12 and the November 8.

There are 252 eligible businesses to vote in the poll according to CMS.