Retail businesses have been having a tough time for some years. In forty-six years of the business-hating Labour dictatorship of Sandwell the six towns have become shadows of their former selves. The retail experience is, generally speaking, vile. The night-time economy is positively non-existent in the centres unless you are very brave. Then Councillors (and former ones) like Steve "Squealing" Eling, Bill "Alka Seltzer" Gavan, Paul "The Cipher" Moore and "Red" Yvonne Davies decided to finish-off struggling shops across the Borough by forcing through the bent deal destroying Lion Farm Fields for a brand-new mega complex away from the traditional centres. Indeed the pathetic Moore could not (apparently) see a glaring conflict of interest and (metaphorically) removed his tongue from his then employer Tom Watson's anus to both promote the BID AND the bent Lion Farm deal from the original 2-minute Cabinet meeting to promoting "Knight's Sh*te" - the sexed-up dossier of 2017!
About the only thing you can say that the corrupt "socialist" Council is good for is holding out the begging bowl. It has been adept at securing millions of pounds of funding which has then been sp*nked up the wall or distributed to organisations controlled by comrades and/or cronies. Thus Sandwell Labour were anxious to jump on the Tory idea of "business improvement districts" or "BIDs".
Whilst not exclusively intended for retail areas the idea is that business rate-rate payers in an area can join together and vote to form a BID. If a majority agree then EVERY business ratepayer is forced to pay an additional "levy" on top of the tax many are already struggling to pay. The plan is that the money will be used to improve the local trading environment so that alleged increased trade benefits all traders in the long run. What they lose on the roundabout of extra "tax" they will gain on the swings of increased sales.
Now Sandwell Labour hate private enterprise and anyone who makes "profit". The likes of Red Yvonne pushed out endless Corbyite claptrap - a man urging the end of capitalism and a socialist paradise. But hang on a mo, the comrades thought. If we set up a BID we can get a Government loan. We can also apply for other loans when yet more millions are periodically thrown at "saving the high street." We can ensure expenditure on nice fluffy things like honking jazz bands, Twitter campaigns and such like. We as a Labour Council can claim the credit for these nice things whilst they are not paid for (directly) by voters. BIDs are deeply undemocratic but as long as we keep "the big boys" on side we can do all this "off the books" and without tossers like "The Skidder" putting in Freedom of Information requests and holding us to account.
Some of you may be scratching your heads here. Surely, the likes of Tesco and Morrisons (who were involved in the bent Wednesbury scheme - see further below) spend zillions on marketing and employ plenty of experts to drive business through their doors. And older readers will recall that many High Streets and the like always had informal traders' associations to have the odd carnival or other promotional events without the hoopla of extra tax, bureaucracy and compulsion. Bur Sandwell being, er, Sadwell this was NOT a scheme brought forward by the traders themselves. The scheme to force them to pay extra tax was officially promoted by Labour Sandwell Council! These tosspots were suddenly experts on retail marketing - perhaps after their success with the taxpayers' money they blew on the homoerotic invitation in New Square which they justified, incredibly, as being a major "tourist attraction" for the sh*thole town:
Now the plot thickens! In February and March 2015 Sandwell Council ran the ballot. They said their proposal won! Now we have seen, thanks to community activist Darryl Magher, that the Wednesbury ballot was bent and turned out to be unlawful. It was quashed despite massive hype from the likes of ghastly people like Cllrs Inane Elaine Costigan and Peter "Zorro" Hughes:
As with Wednesbury the BID was supported by corrupt West Midlands Police. You might wonder what the bent blues know about retail marketing - although they are rumoured to have monetised the dealing of Class A drugs, money laundering and prostitution in Sadders - but as business ratepayers they incredibly get a vote. And so a publicly funded and deeply corrupt organisation is able to "partner" with their dodgy mates at SMBC and help impose extra taxation on hard-pressed local traders! And the West Bromwich BID area was, as in Wednesbury, deliberately rigged to include those well-known retail emporia, the cop shop and the leisure centre:
In August, 2015 a CIC was formed - West Bromwich Town BID CIC. A CIC is a non-profit company set up to benefit the community or for a social purpose. Fat chance of that in Labour Sandwell! Three of the first directors were Sandwell's former Director of Regeneration Nick Bubalo (who has still not been interviewed by WMP under caution - see posts passim ad nauseum), a senior copper Matthew Morgan (high income & gold-plated pension) and the ludicrous Anthony Paul Thomas James (I sh*t ye not) Moore.
As with the scam in Wednesbury, Mr Magher could smell rodent and asked, inter alia, for a list of all those who had voted for the BID which was refused by Jan Britton's bent paid service on the basis that these important documents had been destroyed OR handed to the CIC! As above, the CIC is not subject to Freedom of Information and so Moore and the cops could conceal the facts! How good is that?
No doubt WMP and BID members will now insist the CIC fully disclose the facts...
In the meantime, West Brom BID blocked me from commenting on their activities via social media. Something to hide?
Many of the BIDs around the country employ a couple of minions to tramp the streets (informing on locals to the cops) but are otherwise vehicles to employ the bourgeoisie in nice comfy jobs. Of course, as soon as the money comes rolling in it flows straight out again. The BID originally shared office space with SMBC's market manager but this was clearly not good enough for middle class folk and so they have blown some of the loot and rented their own smart offices:
These are considerably smarter premises than those of many businesses in West Brom being forced to pay the "levy" to them! And clearly not everyone was happy about forking out for this bullsh*t since, by the time of Darryl Magher's enquiry, £10,533.74 of the additinal tax was unpaid and the recalcitrants referred to "collecion agencies".
So how much does it cost to buy a few balloons and have the odd event? Not much one might think. Someone - presumably the Government of the Council - has lent it £90,000 which remains unpaid. And despite raking in A QUARTER OF A MILLION POUNDS a year these jokers managed to LOSE £56,583!!!!! Some of the current Directors are managers of the shopping centres but I wrote to the allegedly "independent" directors asking how this bizarre situation could have arisen and questioning certain items eg why Labour Sandwell Council are failing so badly with street cleaning that people already pay business rates for, the BID has to pay so much extra for this! Here is my letter:
To: 2nd August, 2020
Ms R A Jenkins, ℅ West Bromwich Town BID, 4 St Michaels Court, Victoria Street, West Bromwich B70 8ET (via email.)
Mr James Mattin, Bond Wolfe, West Plaza, 8th Floor, 144 High Street, West Bromwich B70 5JJ (via email.)
Mr Paul Ramsey, McDonalds, 244-246 High Street, West Bromwich B70 7QG
Churh Singh, ℅ West Bromwich Town BID, 4 St Michaels Court, Victoria Street, West Bromwich B70 8ET (via email.)
Re: West Bromwich Town BID CIC Accounts
THIS IS NOT A PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION
I am writing to you as the four supposedly “independent” directors of the BID company. You know who I am as you have taken steps to try to silence me.
As at least three of you are serious “business people” can you please comment on the BID’s latest accounts which make shocking reading - particularly for a CIC, a Company that is supposed to be working in the community interest. I am writing a piece on this for Sandwell Skidder readers and would like to give you the opportunity to individually comment on the state of the accounts dated 30th June, 2019.
Despite the fact that the BID has screwed local businesses for over a quarter of a million pounds via the BID levy you have contrived to make a LOSS of £56,583. How and why has this extraordinary situation arisen?
I note that you moved from sharing SMBC offices to your own premises with all the costs associated with that. Curiously HM Land Registry do not have a property title for your address. To whom do you pay rent please? Is it St Michaels Court (West Bromwich) Limited?
In the accounts you show staff costs but then account for a single extra lump sum figure for the so-called “Ambassadors”. Why?
Even though you blew £22,265 in the y/e 30th June, 2018 on “signage” you spent another £22,000 on this in y/e 2019? Why?
As above, you are experienced business people and so why did you need to spend £10,200 on “consultancy”. Who were the consultants you felt the need to advise you and on what subject?
Your members are entitled to street cleaning via their normal business rates via SMBC and yet
you blew an astonishing £28,055 on this? Why? Who received this largesse? Have you advised members to seek rebates on their normal business rates from SMBC if the job they are legally obliged to do has fallen short?
Even though you have a large income via the levy you have borrowed the sum of £90,000! I sincerely hope the lender was not SMBC but please confirm the identity of the lender and why you needed a loan in the first place?
It would be helpful if, when replying, you could let me have photographs of yourselves for the forthcoming article.
Finally, the addresses given to Companies House for Ms Jenkins and Mr Singh appear to be out of date.
The BID have responded without making any attempt whatsoever to answer the above points but did send me a copy of their "business plan" lol!
Covid is ravaging what is left of retail in Sandwell and the tossers who run small businesses and voted to pay extra to this shower must be well pleased! (If you are one of them please get in touch. The same goes for those that didn't want to join in the first place!)
And right on cue today the BID advertised one of the businesses in this crap scheme, Trespass in Astle Park, er, closing down. That's less money for the bent Council and the BID! It's grim up West Brom!