“WE HAVE got to stop destroying our town and punishing our businesses.”

Those were the words of angered councillor David Coole as he called upon fellow members of Andover Town Council to scrap support for the new Business Improvement District (BID) and its activities and events.

During an impassioned speech on Thursday night in the first meeting of the authority since all but one of its seats were filled by Andover Alliance members, Cllr Coole implored his peers to vote for his motion to withdraw all previously declared backing.

Cllr Coole, with the aid of Councillor Christopher Ecclestone, also aimed for the council to fully support “the termination of the Andover BID at the earliest opportunity”.

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Speaking at the meeting, he said: “This is total madness from TVBC (Test Valley Borough Council) who say they want to save Andover town centre and insanity from a BID company whose primary objective is to increase the footfall, dwelling time and spend for those BID Levy paying businesses. This has got to stop.

“People say that this motion is pointless and we can’t do anything by passing it, I tell you this is not the case.”

Cllr Coole added: “I ask our honoured county and borough councillors in the audience to tell their leaders that local people are angry. Tell them that we want them to work with us and find a way of scrapping of the Andover BID and delivering something even better.”

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But the motion was met with resistance from Councillor Victoria Thorp, who proposed the council should not withdraw support from events and activities organised by BID, and this was met with support by the only independent councillor Andy Fitchet.

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Cllr Fitchet had previously voted against the authority supporting the BID and he said those concerns remained but added: ”To vote through, as the very first motion of this new council, a motion which says that Andover Town Council will not support these events, which are encouraging greater footfall in the town centre, is in my view a bit idiotic.

“I am concerned also because this motion would mean that any organisation or charity working in partnership with the BID would not be able to receive Andover Town Council support, through publicity or grants, because it would be working with the BID.”

Cllr Fitchet proposed an amendment which said: "Andover Town Council express’s its concerns about the financial burden the BID could have on small local businesses and therefore cannot support the Andover BID. Within its powers, Andover Town Council supports all events and projects in the Town Centre which will encourage footfall in the Town to create a thriving and viable place for businesses to grow and Andover town centre to flourish."

The motion was backed by all voting members, except councillors David and Joanne Coole. Cllr Ecclestone abstained.

Speaking in reaction, BID manager Steve Godwin said: “The directors of Andover BID are extremely disappointed at the town council’s decision. The BID is just one-month-old and is already beginning to deliver on its business plan. In not supporting the BID they are going against their own statement of creating a thriving and viable place for businesses to grow as this is exactly what BIDs are about.”