MORE than a hundred frustrated traders have signed a petition calling for an end to the Abingdon BID two years early.

It comes after the company in charge of running the business improvement district terminated its contract last month and a financial audit, which is still ongoing, was launched by the district council, into the scheme.

The measures followed months of pressure from a group of independent businesses, who pay 1.75 per cent of their rateable income into a ring-fenced fund for Abingdon BID, who have been calling for greater transparency about what their money is being spent on and now want an end to the scheme entirely.

The petition, created by this group to show Vale of White Horse District Council the strength of local opposition to BID, stated: “Businesses, to a one, do not want it.

“It’s something they are forced to pay and see nothing in return excluding financial hardship.”

The petition was signed by 102 traders before being handed in to the authority last week.

It is a change from the support Abingdon BID enjoyed when businesses were first asked to sign up almost three years ago.

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 increasingly 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.

Following these escalating tensions, Julie Downing, who has been manager of Abingdon BID since June 2016, last month stepped down and is now formally listed on Companies House as no longer being a director.

A letter sent out to levy payers by Mel Inness, interim chairman of the advisory board of Abingdon BID, earlier this month stated she had requested a financial audit by Vale of White Horse District Council.

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

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 also wrote: “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.”