KENDAL BID has come under fire for sending out invoices for its levy during the coronavirus crisis.

The annual levy is charged on business rate payers in the town and the money is then used for local initiatives. The scheme has to be voted in by a majority of businesses.

But Matt Bland, director of Pete Bland Sports on Kirkland, said it was ‘pretty appalling’ that invoices had been sent out with many businesses closed and facing uncertain futures.

“I just don’t think it needed to come out at all. Why send it out?” he said.

“They tried to blame some sort of legislation for sending it out but I just think that’s nonsense.”

Mr Bland felt it was only certain businesses which benefited from the BID levy.

“I think the money gets spent by the people who vote for (BID) in the first place,” he said.

“They are the ones that vote it in, they get the benefit from it.

“I don’t vote because I don’t get the benefit from it. It’s fairly black and white as far as I’m concerned.”

The letter sent out to small businesses from the Kendal BID board said the ‘wording’ and ‘sending’ of the invoice was a ‘legal requirement’.

It said: “The BID Board and its directors have agreed that NO payments will be pursued, or reminders issued until businesses have permission to resume trading. We would, though ask for businesses that have the resources to pay on time, to do so.

We are helping British BIDs, our representative body, to lobby central government for them to pay the BID levy direct to BIDs, to offset the legal obligation on members to pay it.

“We have asked South Lakeland District Council to help in the short term and this is still been discussed at senior management level.”

Sarah Williams, manager of Kendal BID, rebuffed Mr Bland’s criticism, saying: “BID is not about the individual business, it is about the collective of ‘Kendal’.

“So when we do the trails, for example - that we have seen literally thousands of people taking part in over the last few years - this means thousands more people have walked past your business.

“If you participate then they stop at your business. With the case of the trails EVERY business has been offered participation.”

Mrs Williams also said that more than 90,000 people had viewed Kendal’s shopping offering on but that the BID board could not ‘force businesses to participate or to get value for their levy money.’