BUSINESS owners in Christchurch have voiced their fears about plans to introduce a BID in the town.

As reported by the Daily Echo, council officers and Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce are in the early stages of discussing bringing the additional business tax into force.

Money raised from the BID would be reinvested in projects and used to promote trade in the town.

However, concerns have been raised about the already high rates in Christchurch and whether the scheme will benefit the independent businesses left in the town centre.

Susanne Barrett, who has run Traditions gift shop in High Street for 27 years, said she was "absolutely against" the BID.

"It is going to put an additional charge on our rates which extortionate as it is," she said.

"I don't care how little the cost is, it is still something on top of what we are already paying.

"I have heard what they do and I do all that myself and many others don't.

"I think this town has got a lot going for it."

Lee Price, owner of Saxon Bar in the Saxon Centre, was more positive about the proposals.

"I think it would be a good thing," he said. "We need some improvement in the infrastructure and investment to build up the high street."

Mike Wood, who runs Fair Trade seller Mundo, said: "It should be a good thing if it was operated properly. Southbourne has done one and it appears to be a vibrant place at the moment."

Another businesses owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said they had spoken to traders in Southbourne, where the Bournemouth Coastal BID has been in place for some time.

"We went and spoke to shops there and around six or seven of them said it was the worst thing to happen to them, while just one thought it was brilliant," they said.

"The concept of it sounds like it would work very well, but I'm not sure in practice that it will actually benefit the indepedent businesses on the high street.

"Our rates have continued to rise and we have seen no change in the support we receive."

Plans for a BID are still in development and business owners have been invited to several meetings to discuss the proposals and see examples of the initiative's use in other towns.

Jayne Miles, who has run Think Print for 11 years in Christchurch, said: "I do not think I would be in favour of it. What are they going to do for the town and to help the businesses?"