Whitby Town Council has said “no” to the plan for a Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID).
The town council gets a vote as hosts the Pannett Art Gallery in the ballot of more than 1,300 businesses from Staithes to Spurn Point to create a BID.
The Yorkshire Coast BID aims to raise more than £5 million over five years to put back into the communities by way of promotion by creating new events, festivals, markets and general improvements and infrastructure.
The controversial issue for the town council was that of the mandatory levy that would be imposed on businesses if the BID plan is voted through.
Every retail, leisure, accommodation and food and drink organisation with a rateable value of £12,000 and above would have to pay into a mandatory levy, which would be calculated at 1.5% of that value. Businesses that vote against the levy would still have to pay.
A ballot of the businesses is now running and Whitby Town Council, at its meeting last week, unanimously decided to vote “no”.
Cllr Gareth Stephenson said that whilst the council welcomed anything that encouraged more jobs in the town the levy was an “unfair imposition” on local businesses.
Cllr Heather Coughlan was also not impressed with the idea of the money being used to promote Whitby.
She said: “I think that is insulting, it’s like trying to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs.”
As part of the no vote, the council will also write to two businesses from Whitby who were involved in the BID process to ask about their consultation methods after Deputy Mayor Linda Wild said she had been approached by a number of people in the town who had not been consulted.
She said many people had no idea about the plan until recently.
She said: “The BID team have been working on this for 18 months but for them just to appear in Whitby last month and expect people to be happy about it is ridiculous.”
Before the BID, which is backed by Scarborough Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council can come into effect a month-long postal vote of the 1,300 businesses is being through November.
The BID team must secure more than 50% of the businesses to vote in favour. Also, the total rateable value of those who vote ‘yes’ must exceed that of the ‘no’ votes.
If approved, money collected would be put into a pot and projects will be devised between the partner groups and business as to what it should be spent on.
Members of Whitby and District Tourism Association have also expressed concerns about the coastal scheme.
John Freeman, a former town councillor whose businesses would pay under the levy, said he was against the BID.
He said: “It is the sheer scale of the area that surprises me. No-one who goes to Hornsea is going to travel up to Whitby and vice versa.
“They are boasting that it is the biggest BID area so far like that is a good thing.
“Whitby does not need any more promotion. We can’t fit in the tourists we have when it comes to parking.”
Mr Freeman added that the vote would be like Brexit.
“If the vote goes for yes then it’s happening,” he said.
The result of the vote will be announced on November 30.