Whitby businesses send BID appeal to Housing Minister

Whitby shop local. Hero Sumner in her Moon and Balloon shop . pic Richard Ponter
Whitby shop local. Hero Sumner in her Moon and Balloon shop . pic Richard Ponter

Businesses in Whitby have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to appeal against the result of the Yorkshire Coast BID.

After organising a meeting to object to the introduction of the scheme, more than 85 business owners have come together to ask James Brokenshire MP to overturn the result of the ballot paper.

Hero Sumner, owner of Moon and Balloon and organiser of the meeting, said there are “a number of anomalies” in the BID process, which they believe justifies their appeal.

She said: “One of our main concerns is that people that own more than one business only received one ballot paper.

“That’s a bit like having a household of four people in which only one person is allowed to vote.

“Another thing of particular interest is that one of the streets listed as eligible to vote is Tin Ghaut. Tin Ghaut is a car park and it’s owned by Scarborough Borough Council. In the borough there are at least 47 buildings and car parks owned by the council.

“We can’t access any information as to how votes were handled because it was a secret ballot, but if those businesses are eligible to vote and received a ballot, who signed it off?

“There were three borough councillors at the meeting and they were not aware of any voting process so there’s nothing that shows a democratic procedure.”

The Yorkshire Coast BID was voted in at the end of last month by a majority of 55%.

As part of the scheme, all businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 or above will have to pay a mandatory levy calculated at 1.5% of that value.

The £5 million raised through the levy over the next five years will be used to fund improvements and marketing strategies in the towns along the coast.

Critics of the move say the charge could potentially force them out of business while many question the actual benefits the scheme will be able to bring to a town like Whitby.

A response from the Secretary of the State to acknowledge the receipt of the letter should come within two weeks.

In the meantime, all activities related to the BID will have to be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.