Yorkshire Coast BID levy payers urged to take part in independent investigation

A group fighting against the controversial Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District has called on people in the area to respond to an independent investigation into the measure.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 1:56 pm
Scarborough Council has commissioned the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) to undertake an independent and impartial investigation of its role in carrying out the ballot in 2018.

The Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association (YCLPA), made up of businesses in the borough, wants as many people as possible to take part in the investigation into the ballot that preceded the bid.

Scarborough Council commissioned the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) to undertake an “independent and impartial investigation” of its role in carrying out the ballot in 2018.

Peter Stanyon, chief executive of the AEA, is undertaking the investigation and has already been provided with detailed background information by the council, the Yorkshire Coast BID Company and representatives of BID levy payers.

Mr Stanyon has now asked for more information from levy payers, who have until January 31 to respond.

The plea from the YCLPA comes as it was revealed this week that 79 summons have been issued by East Riding Council to businesses who have not paid the mandatory levy. A total of 362 bills were sent out.

Scarborough Council has not yet revealed how many businesses in its area have not paid, though it is understood no summons have been issued.

Hero Sumner, of the YCLPA, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it was vital that as many people as possible responded to the investigation.

She said: “Following court summons being issued to businesses in East Riding for BID levy payments, we still need to encourage people to come forward with their experiences of how the BID ballot was conducted.

“Our business consultation that prompted this inquiry resulted in more than 200 businesses of the 440 that replied stating they received no information about the BID.”

The BID is made up of 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, who have to pay a mandatory levy into the DBID, calculated at 1.5% of their rateable value.

The 2018 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.

The YCLPA has crowdfunded more than £2,000 to cover the legal costs of its fight against the BID, including an appeal to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The group has used this legal advice to issue guidance to the East Riding businesses that have got a summons from their council.

They have been told to respond to the council and the court asking for the matters to be adjourned while the investigation is carried out and until the appeal to the Secretary of State has been heard.

Comments for the independent investigation, limited to the role of Scarborough Borough Council in carrying out the ballot, should be submitted by email to [email protected] by noon on Friday January 31.