Here's how many Scarborough businesses have not yet paid the Yorkshire Coast BID levy

The leader of Scarborough Council has said that an independent report into the authority’s role in the controversial Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) has not been changed.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 10:15 am
Updated Monday, 2nd March 2020, 10:25 am

Cllr Steve Siddons (Lab) told Friday’s meeting of the full council that the report would be released in full and that the authority had simply asked for clarifications from the report’s author.

The council commissioned the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) to undertake the review into its role of the 2018 BID ballot, the validity of which has been called into question by a number of businesses in the borough.

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.

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As of last week, 306 businesses in the Scarborough area had not paid the levy and had been issued final demands by the council.

Peter Stanyon, the chief executive of the AEA, delivered his report to the council and the findings are set to be discussed by the council’s Audit Committee on March 19.

On Friday, Cluster of Independent Members leader Cllr Bill Chatt pressed the council leader on why the report had not been made public.

He said: “This council asked for there to be an investigation, this council then spent, I believe, £10,000 on doing so. I have been made aware that the report has been with the council since February 13 and I have asked to see it and been told I cannot see that report yet an officer has. That officer has asked for clarifications on that report.

“It just seems very strange that members asked for a report and then are unable to see it.”

While Cllr Chatt said he accepted that it was agreed the report would go to the Audit Committee, he said it would have been “better” if the group leaders had been allowed to read it.

In response, Cllr Siddons said the report “needs to be complete”.

He added: “It is the chief executive’s role to ensure the responses we have got in that report are complete and accurate. Once that piece of work is done he will ensure that piece of work is shared amongst the membership, first of all through the Audit Committee.

“It would have been inappropriate to share an incomplete report that wasn’t clear about some of the outcomes and I think the report writer has already stated that the report has not been changed, we simply asked for clarification on a number of things he wasn’t absolutely clear.

“You can be assured that there is no desire on my part or on any members on this side of the chamber to cover up any information regarding this. We said at the outset that we would do this piece of work and follow it through and the outcomes will be shared with the membership at the appropriate time.”

He said the clarifications would be included in the report.

Cllr Chatt said he thought the role of the Audit Committee was to seek clarification on the report but “they obviously are not trusted to do that”, a remark Cllr Siddons called “disingenuous”.