A FUMING local businessman says he considered framing a £20 cheque rather than cash it after leftover funds from the controversial Largs BID were returned - more than two years after it was wound up.

According to a Freedom of Information request submitted by the News, some local businesses in Largs received as little as 23p back.

The council took over the administering of the repayments after the Largs Matters steering group was stood down in February 2018.

However, it has taken until now for the final funds to be paid out.

The Business Improvement District was launched in 2013 and saw members pay an annual rate to work towards boosting tourism through organised events including the FoodFest and classic car show.

Accounts show that the BID had £26,000 in its accounts in 2018, and then £11,000 in 2019.

Some of these funds went on promotion for a Largs BID 2 plan, which never got all the ground, and council administration fees - meaning that there was only £7,500 left to be split among the registered 293 businesses.

Kenneth Little, who owns AH Mackie Lawn, Garden Products and Blacksmiths, said: "We benefitted in no way at all. It was a complete waste of money.

"Shops and businesses in the back streets of Largs all contributed to it and got zilch out of it. Rather than bank the £20 cheque we were considering framing it and putting it on our wall. As far as I am concerned, the BID didn't go on the route it was intended to go down."

Richard Craigmile, owner of The Candy Box, said: "The BID should have been a good thing but unfortunately it didn't work out that way."

Peter Valerio, owner of Gallery Eight and Largs Hardware Store, says the cash left should have been used for a local cause.

He said: "What's the point in handing a business £20? It is a crazy situation that such small amounts were sent out to local businesses, it should have been kept as a lump sum and gone to something like the Largs Railway Station garden or another project."

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch also criticised the way the BID was handled.

He added: "It seems ridiculous that some businesses were only owed a sum of 23p when you consider that over a five year period between grant funding and levy payments that in the region of £800,000 went through the BID process.

"And what is there to show for all that money on Largs Main Street?

"What use is 23p to anybody? It is the final insult."

The News submitted a freedom of request for information to North Ayrshire Council about the repayments.

The council said: "The refunds were all made by cheque, except for four cases where the BID payer had previous years arrears on their business rates accounts.

"In these cases the refund which they would ordinarily have received was transferred to their business rates account and offset against existing arrears.

"The funds ranged from 23p to £105."

Former manager of the Largs Matters steering group, Willie Wood admitted that the BID was flawed but believes a second BID could have been a success.

He said: "The success of the BID and the extra numbers of visitors and money it generated was well documented over the years.

"A second BID would have been able to access the new Towns and BIDs Resilience and Recovery Fund, to contribute to high street resilience and recovery from Covid-19.

"Unfortunately we missed out on that."