'We've got a coastal route, it's called the A171' ... businesses react to first Yorkshire Coast BID project

The Yorkshire Coastal Road Route.
The Yorkshire Coastal Road Route.

Businesses across the borough are "up in arms" about the Yorkshire Coast BID and hearing about its first project has done very little to change their mind.

This week the people behind the scheme, which is aimed at raising £5 million to boost tourism on the coast, have revealed they are considering connecting all businesses in the improvement district through promoting a Yorkshire Coastal Road Route from Staithes to Spurn Point, the limits of the BID area.

According to the AA’s website, it is a distance of 92.8 miles and takes 2hrs 58mins to complete.

BID board director James Hodgson said: “There are lots of examples where areas have successfully developed route-based experiences, from the world-famous Pacific Coast Highway in the USA to the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland and the Atlantic Highway along the North Devon and Cornwall coast.

“All of these have had a major impact on tourism in their respective areas and we believe that a Yorkshire Coastal Road Route would achieve the same results.”

Read more: Yorkshire Coast BID announces Yorkshire Coastal Road Route plans
The project will be funded by retail, leisure, accommodation and food and drink organisations with a rateable value of £12,000 or above who pay a mandatory levy of 1.5% of that value.

Although the aim of the scheme is to “promote, protect and support” the Yorkshire Coast, many businesses in the borough have rejected the idea of paying what they see as “an extra tax”.

Mark Leppington, franchisee of the Crown Tavern pub in Scarborough, said: “It’s a complete waste of time and it will do nothing for Falsgrave. It’s going to benefit the town centre and the seafront and if anything it will just detract trade from the area.

“Business is difficult enough in pubs without them imposing this extra tax.”

Mr Leppington said he received no correspondence from the BID team and only found out about the scheme on August 1 when he received the first bill. He says he was therefore unable to cast his vote.

The businessman also added that he is refusing to pay the levy, which for his pub amounts to about £500, adding that he is ready to make his case in court.

In Whitby, about 80 business owners have formed the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association to campaign against the BID.

Hero Sumner, one of the members, said suggesting a Yorkshire Coastal Road Route was “insulting”.

“We’ve got a coastal road, it’s called the A171 and everyone knows where it goes from and to.

“Before all this nonsense started people were saying ‘how can you do something that benefits a 92-mile stretch of road’, it’s just not manageable and I do not believe that putting signs up to say ‘this is a Yorkshire Coast BID route’ is going to make a scrap of a difference to anybody’s business.”

The group had lodged an appeal against the validity of the ballot with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP. However, this was later ruled as invalid.

The Yorkshire Coastal Road Route project will be discussed with levy payers in September.

It will then be voted on by the BID board of directors.