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Calls for Independent Investigation Into D-BID

Calls for Independent Investigation Into D-BID

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Carl Gavaghan at 11:24am 28th October 2019. (Updated at 11:43am 28th October 2019)

Scarborough councillors will be asked to support an independent investigation into the ballot which led to the creation of the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) last year.

Conservative councillor Alf Abbott, supported by the Cluster of Independent Members leader Cllr Bill Chatt, will present a motion to council on Monday next week (4th) calling for the measure.

Cllr Abbott says that an investigation should be held into claims that businesses that have to pay into the BID were excluded from the ballot.

More than 1,300 businesses in the tourism industry from Staithes in the north to Spurn Point in the south with a rateable value of more than £12,000 have to pay a mandatory levy into the BID, calculated at 1.5% of their rateable value.

The BID aims to raise around £5m over five years to put back into the communities by way of creating new events, festivals, markets and also by making general improvements and updating infrastructure.

Last year, a ballot of businesses was passed by a margin of 217 in favour with 175 against, on a turnout of just above 29%

However, it later came to light that 71 of the yes votes came from the councils involved in the process, including 38 from Scarborough Council.

In his motion, Cllr Abbott also highlights concerns raised by the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association, made up of businesses that oppose the BID, which claims a number of eligible businesses were not included in the vote.

Cllr Abbott’s motion states:

“In our opinion, it is readily apparent that there exists sufficient evidence casting doubt on the integrity of the ballot process underpinning the establishment of the Yorkshire Coast DBID as to render the council’s involvement unsafe in the present circumstances.”

Scarborough Council is responsible for collecting the levy payments on behalf of the BID company.

Cllr Abbott’s motion adds that a formal consultation with qualifying businesses is being carried out by the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association to determine which ones got to vote.

The motion goes on to say:

“In our opinion, early results demonstrate that a lack of clarity regarding both the definitive geographical boundary of the scheme and the criteria applied to establish which businesses are genuinely tourism-related have resulted in certain qualifying businesses having been omitted from the original ballot, while certain non-qualifiers have been wrongly included.”

An appeal was lodged with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, but earlier this year he declared that the appeal case was invalid as only 4% of businesses raised the appeal, with 5% needed to trigger the process.

Cllr Abbott’s motion goes on to state that the claims from the opponents are enough to trigger a fresh appeal.

The motion ends:

“I, therefore, propose that in the interests of prudence and good practice, this council instigates an independent and impartial investigation of the legitimacy of the Yorkshire Coast DBID ballot process.”

The Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District and Scarborough Council have been approached for a comment.

Comments

There are 2 comments on this page.

zara, on 28th October 2019 3:14pm
so it should. The whole thing has been dodgy from day one. Not sure why the council were allowed any votes never mind so many. After all who is paying the levy on behalf of all these car parks etc that the council were claiming votes for? Oh yes thats right its us the taxpayers. Okay for Bastiman to vote using other peoples money, bet it would have been different if it was coming out of his profits and not taxpayers pockets.
zara, on 29th October 2019 10:24am
not sure where the comment i made yesterday went but i will try again. No way should the councils have voting rights on this subject, they are not the ones who are paying for it, that is the businesses who actually are having to use their own money to pay the bill. The council use taxpayers money to do so and therefore have no personal loss. If businesses want publicity there are plenty of ways of getting it, stupid ideas of making a coastal route are not going to be beneficial to anyone

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