THE BOROUGH council has assured that no services will be withdrawn from Andover in the light of a proposed Business Improvement District (BID) which has come under fire from traders and firms.

In a series of meetings with business owners, arguments have escalated, and concerns have been expressed that services provided by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) could be removed if the BID is given the green light.

But in a meeting chair and deputy chair of the Steering Group of Businesses, Lisa Armstrong and Kevin Paterson, who are promoting the plan, were assured by TVBC chief executive Roger Tetstall that the authority has no intention to remove services that it currently provides to the town.

These range from street cleaning, to grounds maintenance, to emptying litter bins, and the council apparently was clear in its commitment to continuing these and ensuring that the BID would be able to spend its money on new projects.

The meeting was also a chance to for Ms Armstrong and Mr Paterson to outline a number of concerns which had been expressed by businesses regarding future relationships with the TVBC.

And the pair were reassured that the council would be willing to negotiate with the BID on the subject of parking.

The council has said that it recognised that parking has been a crucial issue for BIDs elsewhere in the country, the council confirmed that they would review, in partnership with the BID, how to achieve the changes for which its members would be lobbying. It also said that it would not seek to recover from the BID the expenditure that it had incurred such as funding consultancy support to the Steering Group.

Leader of the council, Councillor Phil North, said: “I have no doubt that, if approved, the BID will wield considerable influence with the council on decisions regarding the future of the town centre. I am looking forward to working positively with them.

“Frankly I would be surprised if the BID did not negotiate with the council on the issue of parking in accordance with the demands of their members. I am sure that we shall see changes as a result. Andover town centre is one of the council’s highest priorities. I believe that the BID will be able to provide a united voice for businesses to which we shall be keen to listen and respond.”

Lisa Armstrong, chair of the BID Steering Group, said: “I would not have taken on this voluntary role if I did not believe that a BID offered real and substantial benefits for town centre businesses in the future.

“I considered it vital to address the concerns voiced by businesses with the council. I was reassured by their response, and it was clear that the BID will have real ‘clout’ with the council in the future. I am of course intent on holding them to the commitments that they gave at our meeting.”