THE company in charge of running Abingdon BID has terminated its contract as a financial audit is launched by the district council.

It follows months of pressure from a group of independent traders, who pay1.75 per cent of their rateable income into a ring-fenced fund for the business improvement district, who have been calling for greater transparency about what their money is being spent on.

Now a letter has been sent out to levy payers by Mel Inness, interim chairman of the advisory board of Abingdon BID, stating she has requested a financial audit by Vale of White Horse District Council.

It comes after months of failing to get more detailed financial records from InPublications, the company in charge of managing Abingdon BID.

Ms Inness wrote she recognised better 'financial clarity' was needed following a tense meeting with traders last June.

She said: “Since taking over as interim chair in September, I have made repeated requests for clear in-depth financial information to be given for everyone’s benefit, but nothing was forthcoming.”

She explained as the advisory board they were not officially listed as company directors and were limited in what they could do without involving the district council.

A Vale spokesperson confirmed the authority was currently undertaking an audit of Abingdon BID and added: “We remain committed to supporting the BID and the wider Abingdon economy.”

Ms Inness’s letter also stated on February 17 that she had received an email stating InPublications had given notice for termination of their contract.

She said: “Up until now the Abingdon BID management was entirely in the hands of a service-providing company called InPublications.

“They have provided not only the BID manager, but also all the digital support and print as well as covering all other aspects of the work of the BID and as such they have control of all funds.”

“Please be assured that all of us on the current advisory board are doing our best, in between running our own businesses, to get the Abingdon BID back on track and to put the best interests of the levy payers first and foremost.”

Julie Downing, who has been manager of Abingdon BID since June 2016, is now formally listed on Companies House as having stepped down as of February 13.

The Abingdon BID website is also no longer working.

In October 2015, 58 per cent of 148 businesses voted in favour of the Abingdon BID, which promised to transform the town centre with everything from free WiFi to lobbying for a 24/7 multi-storey car park.

The full fund is predicted to total £800,000 over five years and is meant to be used to run the BID projects but business owners had said they didn’t think they were getting their money’s worth.

Frustrations boiled over at a meeting in June, which led those behind Abingdon BID to refuse calls for a annual general meeting despite repeated calls from town traders.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran offered to chair a meeting in January but this never took place.