AN ANDOVER businessman has been summoned to court for refusing to pay a £865 levy to the body created to boost the town's high street. 

Councillor Kevin Farrer, owner of International Furniture, has long spoken against Andover Business Improvement District (BID)but now he has been ordered to attend Basingstoke Magistrates Court on September 19.

Councillor Farrer, who is a member of both Andover Town Council and Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), has previously claimed that the BID had brought in ‘undemocratically’. He says the reason the BID was voted in was due to TVBC being able to cast 13 votes.

The BID vote passed 70 to 67 in the ballot taken towards the end of last year.

Posting on social media about the summons, he said: “Even if it’s to show the judge just how undemocratic this process has been, and the fact that high street shops are struggling already.

“Without the extra stress of being ripped off by these people calling themselves BID. Why would I want to pay £865 into a pot to attract people to town, when clearly the town is meant to be rejuvenated and we need more shops.

“The clue is in the word rejuvenating,this alone will bring people to town, without crippling the businesses that keep the town going day after day.

“My business rates along with everyone else who have shops and businesses already pay for services that we do not seem to get.”

He added: “So much for TVBC wanting to look after the high street, this has divided the shop keepers and will continue to do so.”

Mr Farrer said that he will not be paying the “forced levy”, even “if it means TVBC enforcing a bankruptcy order then so be it”.

In response, BID manager Steve Godwin said: “We are very disappointed to hear this and that the BID is committed to working with our partners on positive initiatives for Andover town centre over the next five-years.”

A TVBC spokesperson, said: “Businesses will be aware that the council is obliged to collect the BID levy on behalf of the BID company, which is entirely separate from the council.

“We recognise that this is the first year that businesses will pay the levy, so we have issued both informal and formal reminders in respect of outstanding amounts. Regardless of the business, it remains an offence to withhold the levy. The council does, of course, owe a duty to those people who have already paid, to pursue the ten per cent or so of the levy which remains outstanding.

“The money the council collects is passed to the BID company in its entirety to enhance the town centre for shoppers and visitors.”