The first bills for tourism businesses in the region will go out next month for the controversial Yorkshire Coast Destination Business Improvement District (DBID).
More than 1,000 businesses with a rateable value of above £12,000 will pay into the levy, which aims to raise approximately £5 million over five years to promote and organise events from Staithes in the north of the region to Spurn Point in the south.
Last year, a ballot of businesses was passed by a margin of 217 voted for to 175 against on a turnout of just above 29%.
However, it later came to light that 71 of the yes votes came from the councils involved in the process, including 38 from Scarborough Council which were cast by the former leader of the authority, Cllr Derek Bastiman (Con), in consultation with his then cabinet and officers.
An appeal was lodged with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, but earlier this year he declared that the appeal case is invalid as only 4% of businesses raised the appeal, with 5% needed to trigger the process.
Following the decision a number of business owners have continued to oppose the creation of the DBID with claims that up to 90 businesses in Whitby alone will refuse to pay the levy, forcing Scarborough Council as the collecting authority to take them to court to recover the money.
Speaking at Monday’s full council meeting, the cabinet member for economy, communities and commercial Cllr Liz Colling (Lab) updated members on the process.
She said: “Following concerns raised by businesses the council was invited to review all the consultation data and it is satisfied that the DBID company has fulfilled its statutory obligations.”
Cllr Colling said the council now legally had to follow through with the DBID process as the time when it could have vetoed its involvement passed when the ballot took place.
She added: “The levy bills will go out on August 1.
“If we as a council do not send out those bills and collect those levies we are in breach of the 2004 BID regulations and the DBID company can take us to court.
“Any business that does not pay that levy will be treated the same as any business that does not pay its business rates.”
The DBID levy is charged at 1.5% of a businesses rateable value.
Whitby councillor Alf Abbott (Con) said it was wrong to make people who did not want the DBID to pay.
He said: “These levy payers are residents and businesses of the borough and are going to get penalised for something they didn’t agree to.
“A small majority of businesses wanted to be in the DBID, because this small majority they all had to be in it. To join and club and not be able to get out of it I think is wrong.”
Speaking after the meeting, council leader Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that he saw the DBID as a “partner” to the council’s ongoing town centre strategy.
He said: “I’m waiting to see the plans for DBID.
“I would expect in a relatively short time to see some plans about what they plan to do to support the town centres and business areas that are going to be paying for this.”
Graham Collinson, one of the Whitby business owners who appealed the decision, told the LDRS the council has “failed businesses”.
He added: “I know some businesses who are refusing to pay for anything with the council anymore, sponsorship for flowerbeds and such, and I would urge others to do the same.
“I will not pay the levy, it’s a matter of principle.”