THE chair of Alloa First has sworn to "listen to concerns" that businesses have as they gear up for their fourth consecutive term.

This comes after the BID (Business Improvement District) received criticism from some businesses who felt the levy charge was too high.

The BID was voted in for a fourth consecutive term on Friday, October 6, after securing a 59.26 per cent majority of votes received.

However, some businesses within the town remain unhappy with several aspects of the BID and have told the Advertiser they are disappointed that it continued.

One part of the BID’s continuation that caused a stir was the announcement that the levy charge each business pays into the BID would increase in the next term.

Daphne Hamilton, proprietor of The Wee Gallery on Candleriggs, said: “I felt really sad.

“I had mixed feelings because I do support having a BID but not at the rip off rates that we have in Alloa.

“I think it’s really sad because I have benefitted from it but there are a lot of businesses who haven’t at all.

“Yet, they’re paying more for the levy. I learned that my levy was going up by 30 per cent and that woke me up to what was going on.”

Questions were also raised about the distribution of votes across businesses during the election process.

While most businesses received one vote, several larger businesses were given more than one, sometimes into double figures, allowing them to have a bigger swing on the vote.

Clackmannanshire Council owns 14 properties within Alloa, qualifying them for 14 votes, which were put forward to a meeting in September. Councillors voted in favour of the continuation of the BID, which meant all 14 votes were put through as yes, carrying a pretty significant swing of the final vote.

One business owner, who asked not to be named, said they thought the distribution of votes was unfair, setting up a system to ensure the BID was continued.

“This is a Business Improvement District,” they said. “Yet, I feel the vote was not a fair vote. I think it needs redone minus votes coming from businesses not in the town centre.

“The businesses in the town are forced to pay this charge from their own pocket and wages, which isn’t fair.”

Hugh McMichael, chair of Alloa First and owner of McMichael’s Sony Centre, responded to criticisms saying that it is the BID's aim to prove to businesses that they have made the right choice.

He said: “Ultimately, as a BID, we’re going to listen to what businesses’ concerns are and address some of them.

“Some of them don’t necessarily want to pay the levy at all, but the BID is all about driving footfall into the town and generating activity within the town.

“If we bring people in, we bring opportunity and that is what we’re going to be focussing on – to drive more public into the town itself.

“It’s going to be the activities that we do that will show businesses and voters that it was the right choice [to continue the BID].

“The main focus is about making Alloa a regular place for people to visit and by getting them to regularly visit, you’ll find it puts visibility of businesses into the mind of the consumer.

“Our main job is to drive awareness of businesses in Alloa so that businesses get the most out of the BID.”