THE body set up to boost Bournemouth’s coastal high streets has insisted it is benefiting the area after a local pub held out against paying for its activities.

The landladies of the Porterhouse in Westbourne only paid their levy to the Bournemouth Coastal Business Improvement District (BID) after receiving a court summons.

They say their part of town does not see enough benefits to justify the charge – and they were backed by local councillor Nick Rose, who called the BID levy “legalised fleecing of small businesses”.

BIDs were set up following a ballot of local businesses, after which all eligible businesses have to pay towards their activities. The Coastal BID – mainly covering Westbourne, Southbourne and Boscombe – was established in 2012 and had its mandate from business renewed in 2017.

Stefan Krause, the BID’s manager, has since written to licensees Dawn McLachlan and Megan Parker, saying the pub was “one of our over 700 businesses who invest back into their local community via the BID levy”.

He said: “It is an investment which is not easily made as I know. Businesses still do struggle in this changing trading environment and long period of austerity.”

He said the BID met with Westbourne Business Association and funded projects that the association endorsed.

Those included digital campaigns such as Valentine’s, the Random Acts of Kindness initiative and Foodie Heaven. The area had taken part in the Jazz By the Sea festival, had winter plants and flowers, and spring flowers; had enjoyed Westbourne Book Binge, the Westbourne Tea Party and street decorations for the Queen’s Jubilee.

The BID had worked with businesses to tackle begging and antisocial behaviour and to lobby the council and police.

At Christmas, the BID had supplemented Westbourne’s Christmas lights by installing 80 lanterns which hung above shops, and provided decorations for Westbourne Arcade, as well as flagpole Christmas trees and five extra illuminations.

He offered to visit the pub to see what Christmas decorations would be possible in the area outside it this year.

He stressed that none of the BID levy from the coastal area went to town centre attractions such as the Christmas Tree Wonderland, although there were benefits from the extra visitors to the town centre.

He added: “We have been asked by traders in Westbourne to look at the feasibility for a new signature event, which could be very exciting. We will report back to you in due course about our findings.”

The Coastal BID received backing from councillor Phil Stanley-Watts, who said it had helped boost his area, Boscombe West.

“I think the BID is very positive for high streets which are in need of investment when it’s difficult for councils. Councils, in partnership with the BID, are trying to enable high streets to thrive in difficult economic environments and they’re putting in a lot of different events and trying to invest a lot more,” he said.