Yorkshire BID - six reasons why Whitby traders should think twice before supporting it

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

I would just like to ask the supporters of the Yorkshire Coast BID (chairman, BID body, Welcome to Yorkshire etc) to examine their motives before justifying a tax on businesses - and domestic ratepayers.

They may not have realised before ‘getting behind’ this ‘wonderful opportunity’ that it will in fact be to the detriment of many, and that the benefits will reach very few.

By pointing a few facts, I hope they might re-think their approach:

1) From Scarborough: £105,000 of ratepayers’ money has already been spent on feasibility studies, marketing, consultation, project management, ballot costs and legal fees.

If Scarborough Council sign any legal documents to begin the taxing process the BID will cost a further £165,000, which is the tax they agreed to pay on toilets, car parks etc, the ratepayers are funding this, domestic and business ratepayers.

2) The number of businesses involved in the ballot process contributing to this additional tax was categorically stated at 1,354 to raise £5.4m.

The BID company have not explained how this number of businesses has suddenly dropped to 1,044 nor how this will affect the £5.4m they had promised to deliver for ‘infrastructure and placemaking’ whatever that is.

3) Businesses such as the caravan parks who are open only six months of the year will still have to contribute their additional tax.

In Whitby, there are 2,300 holiday homes open all year round.

The vast majority of these are registered as businesses, so escape domestic rates and because of ‘banding’ pay no business rates and will not be subject to the additional tax either.

4) The BID body is a private, limited company who will collect the money and do not have to justify one penny of how the taxpayers’ money is spent.

Much of it will be wages for administration and directorships.

The directorships are awarded at the chairman’s discretion, secrecy clauses signed and no-one has a legal right to challenge any of this.

5) The legislation for Business Improvement Districts is complex and the window of opportunity to appeal is minimal - 28 days.

The Secretary of State determined the validity of the appeal based on ‘signatures’ and not the evidence that was provided.

As far as we are able to ascertain this is always the case with over 40 appeals that have been submitted across the UK.

6) The ‘Task Force’ promoting the BID were formed from a group of people known as The Welcome To Yorkshire Coastal Tourism Advisory Board.

Many of their members will not have to financially contribute to the BID.

Hero Sumner

Moon & Balloon

Whitby