Newmarket restaurant owner Monza Ali's anger over BID bill
A Newmarket restaurateur is involved in a bitter dispute with an organisation set up to promote town centre businesses after they sent in bailiffs to demand money he believes he should not have to pay.
Monza Ali opened his restaurant, Monza’s Place, in Park Lane in March 2017, a year after a majority of traders in and around the High Street voted to establish the Love Newmarket Business Improvement District (BID) and to pay an annual levy based on the rateable value of their property.
“I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would vote to pay money they didn’t have to when a lot of businesses are finding it so hard to keep going,” said Mr Ali.
“I never had the chance to vote because I wasn’t here and had no say in any decision but they say I still have to pay them £700, even though my restaurant isn’t in the town centre and whatever BID do wouldn’t be any benefit to me.”
When contacted by the Journal, BID manager Graham Philpot said the organisation did not want to respond directly to Mr Ali’s comments.
Mr Ali said that about a month ago, bailiffs from ARP Enforcement Agency – established by seven local authorities including Forest Heath District Council to collect debts – turned up at his door.
“It was about an hour before opening and they came in with Graham Philpot, who runs BID, and demanded £700 there and then,” said MrAli.
“When I told them I hadn’t got a single penny, they demanded to see my bank account online which they said they were entitled to do. I said I’d try and pay them in three days and they went off”.
Mr Ali claimed that Forest Heath Council then became involved in the dispute when he alleged they transferred money from his business rates account with them to pay the £700 BID were demanding.
“I couldn’t believe they were allowed to do that,” said Mr Ali.
“Now it has put my rates account further into arrears, my weekly payments have increased and I owe them an extra £235 to pay for the bailiffs. I am very, very angry about the whole thing.”
A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council told the Journal: “Forest Heath does all it can to support business and help it to grow.
“We work very closely with businesses who are experiencing cash flow pressure offering instalment arrangements to structure business rate and levy arrears. We cannot talk about individual cases, but will say that we continue to work with the business in question.
“The Newmarket BID was set up by local businesses who fund its activities through a levy on business rates. Forest Heath is involved as it collects the business rates on behalf of government, and the levy on behalf of the BID. We apply the same principle to all collections from BID members.
“Any payment made is deemed to be equally available for BID levy and business rates and applied to the debt to which the debtor intended the monies to be applied.”
Now it has put my rates account further into arrears, my weekly payments have increased and I owe them an extra £235 to pay for the bailiffs. I am very, very angry about the whole thing.” - Monza Ali
Di Robertshaw, BID chair, said: “We are striving to ensure that the BID and its objectives are fully understood by businesses and the public alike.
“The Newmarket Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led and business-funded body formed to improve a defined area, which is known as the BID area. Monies are raised by the businesses represented and they decide and direct what they want in their area.
“We have offered individual businesses the opportunity to engage
with us and talk through
any issues or misunderstandings they may have about the process and the BID itself.”