Yorkshire BID - Whitby’s traders need transparency

The Captain Cook Statue, Whitby.(TECH DATA..Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 250th at f8, iso 200).30th December 2018..Picture by Simon Hulme
The Captain Cook Statue, Whitby.(TECH DATA..Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 250th at f8, iso 200).30th December 2018..Picture by Simon Hulme

Some Whitby businesses are very upset at what they call unfair taxation and the lack of consultation in the recent Yorkshire Coast BID.

There was inadequate information with business leaders and zero transparency in the delivery of this recent BID.

Many Whitby businesses complain that they did not receive any information.

Many others had no vote. Consultations had taken place but the number of businesses who had participated was minimal. 

Some businesses which attended YCB presentations called them a fait accompli and definitely not a consultation.

How could that be classed as representative or democracy?

Now 70-plus businesses have joined together and lodged an appeal to the Secretary of State to have the vote overturned.

Hopefully, Scarborough Council and the Yorkshire Coast Bid Group (YCBG) will start to listen.

Everyday, through the media, we hear stories of struggling and closing businesses on the high street.

Our business rates are to increase by 3% this year and following the YCBG vote an additional 1.5% will also be added to this increase.

We will see job losses and business closures.

This burden does not fall evenly on all businesses.

The YCBG have decided which businesses are to be taxed.

How did they decide without consultation?

The YCBG will not disclose the criteria for this taxation.

Many businesses feel that they will be subsiding their competitors.

There are over 2,230 holiday accommodation businesses in Whitby.

Only 50 larger accommodation providers will pay the tax.

This additional burden falls only on 2% of providers who are operating from large buildings. The non-paying 98% are mainly second home owners and investors.

The non-paying businesses are obtaining an additional source of income from their property but will not be paying the tax.

They will obtain all of the benefits (if any) without contributing a single penny.

This is discrimination and an unfair commercial advantage.

It is a fundamental requirement that BID groups should operate with openness and transparency.

However, requests to the YCBG to provide the feasibility reports and information have been refused and ignored. Why would the members of the group refuse such requests?

BIDs are Business Improvement District and are a means for businesses to improve their local area and provide additional services leading to improved trading. 

It is difficult with this proposal to understand what “local” means.

The area is so large, covering some 60 miles of the east coast. The original coastal strip was from Redcar to Patrington (near Hull).

Redcar dropped out (they could not see any benefit) so now the area is from Staithes to Patrington. Whitby businesses raised many concerns about the size of the area and the imbalance and mismatch of the needs of businesses within the geographical area.

Our concerns have been ignored by the task group.

The YCBG have not explained how businesses will benefit.

How will trade be improved?

Will there be an increase in profits?

What additional employment will be created?

What is not commonly understood is that BIDs are run via private companies with directors. And following the Yes vote a private company is to be set up.

The Whitby business tax payers have asked to have some input in the formation of the company to ensure that we have proper representation and access to information.

Also that the directors can be held accountable to the taxpayers.

We are awaiting a response from the YCBG.

Whitby businesses are talking and working together against this proposal, and businesses who are affected are encouraged to get involved.

Graham Collinson

Mulgrave Road, Whitby