BUSINESSES took a stand against Andover's Business Improvement District (BID) as their fight was taken to court.

Today (Thursday) a coach-full of town centre companies, councillors and supporters headed to Basingstoke Magistrates Court after those who had not paid the BID levy had been summoned.

Reviews and welfare team leader for Test Valley Borough Council Peter Colebeck said that 40 businesses were summoned, two were then withdrawn, 12 were paid and 26 were brought to court.

Speaking before the hearing, Julie Rhodes, of Studio R Hair, said: “Initially it was the under handed way it was mentioned, I didn’t know anything about it, no-one approached me, the first I found out about it was from Councillor Farrer.

“We would have been in business two years October and the first time I heard about it was last September.”

Mrs Rhodes said that at steering group meeting she asked “if there was a minimum vote needed, they said ‘no’ one vote counts and that is it.

She added: “If we hadn’t voted then it wouldn’t have gone through, there was a minimum turn out required.”

And in court she said: “It is just lazy, chucking money at things that are already happening. It is just a money saving project by Test Valley and nowhere near designed to help businesses in Andover.”

Mrs Rhodes said that she recently looked at the BID’s Twitter and found that 27 of the 43 accounts it was following were from Andover, Massachusetts.

She added: “I’m sure America would be very grateful.”

Erol Aydin of Blue Onion said: “It doesn’t add anything to the area. They are asking for the money upfront. My business is already overdrawn.

“BID, I don’t know what sort of benefit they are going to get. First the council made this BID, they can afford to pay it, instead of spending this money, support the BID this year and next year everything is ok… everybody would be happy to pay.

“If I pay upfront in two months-time I might go bankrupt.”

In response, District judge Timothy Pattinson said: “It was quite a close vote, quite like Brexit, nevertheless a majority. It was a majority and there we are that is the end of it.”

And in summoning up District Judge Pattinson said that the vote was “out of my control”, adding: “There is very little I can do, in fact there is nothing I can do on the complaints about the past.

"There may be a number of grievances. I accept from what people have said that a number of people do have concerns about this, however the case is very clear here, when there has been no payment and the payment is properly served the court must make a liability order, there is no two ways about it.”

After his decision there were cries of disagreement and frustration from those who are against the BID.