BID: ‘This’ll be the last time we have Christmas lights and a market’

BID rangers
BID rangers

The defeated chairman of Boston BID has warned that this could be the last year that the town is decorated with festive lights.

Alan Ellis, who runs Harmony Music in West Street, has hit out at the traders who decided to vote against another five years of Boston BID.

He told The Standard it was the votes of individual traders who cost the BID the vote, which was lost 124-115.

He said: “Those little individual shops paid on average £80 to £100. It’s a two pint bottle of milk every week.

“If you are arguing over £100 then you shouldn’t be in business.”

He also warned: “This will be the last year of Christmas lights and the last Christmas market. The council don’t have the money.”

There are rumours the BID will be replaced by a Chamber of Commerce style body. Director Matt Clark has already said he would back a ‘phoenix out of the ashes’ after being ‘hugely shocked and disappointed’ by the result – which was announced on Friday.

However Mr Ellis said such a body would do little to help the town without the levy that was paid to BID.

He said: “It won’t help at all.”

He added: “If you put one per cent of your business rates into a pot you couldn’t buy a lot.

“The big businesses didn’t get anything out of the BID as such, all these big firms have got their own security, they didn’t need rangers. They were doing it for the community.”

Mr Ellis believes the rangers were a vital service for traders, adding: “The rangers gave me and lots of small businesses comfort that there was somebody on the streets if they did need it.”

The BID will be wound up – although Mr Ellis said those with unpaid bills will be chased for the cash they owe.

Boston Borough Council has confirmed it will not be able to foot the bill for the town rangers.

The authority used its 17 votes to say ‘yes’ to the BID.

Council leader Peter Bedford said: “The council regrets that the ballot has gone against the continuation of Boston BID.

“I do need to scotch immediately rumours already doing the rounds that the council will fund the town rangers. There is no truth in this. The council has no plans to pick up the bill for the rangers.”

The council’s cabinet is due to discuss the fallout of the BID result at its meeting today (Wednesday).

Critics said that the BID provided the services the council should be doing.

Coun Carol Taylor, who lobbied the council to abstain from the vote, said: “They have consistently failed over the past five years to improve the shopping experience for both businesses and shoppers.

“I can appreciate that the town rangers have played a part in increasing the security of shops etc, but this does not promote Boston as a destination to come and shop.”

Coun Taylor said the money lost on a cancelled music event last summer was a ‘travesty’ and said the BID’s attempt to become a Portas Pilot town was ‘sad’.

She added: “It is important now for businesses to empower themselves in the interim and find ways to promote their own businesses/shopping areas. Church Street are in the process of doing this and I know there are plans for a group to be formed on Pen Street which is another lovely shopping area with some unique businesses.”