Scarborough's BID levy scheme is paused: 'It is about time the council listened to what businesses are saying'

Businesses opposed to a controversial levy across Scarborough borough are celebrating news that the process has been paused.
Scarborough Town HallScarborough Town Hall
Scarborough Town Hall

The borough authority announced this morning (Tuesday) it had written to the Yorkshire Coast Destination Business Improvement District (DBID) informing it of its decision.

The DBID aims to raise more than £5 million over five years to put back into the communities by way of creating new events, festivals, markets and general improvements and infrastructure.

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But a number of businesses have expressed concerns about how the money will be raised via a mandatory levy on every retail, leisure, accommodation and food and drink organisation with a rateable value of £12,000 and above.

These businesses would have to pay into the levy, which would be calculated at 1.5% of that value.

A number of businesses in Whitby have written to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Local Government, asking him to set aside the result of the public vote last year that approved the DBID, which was approved by 217 votes to 175 with a turnout of just 29%.

Cllr Helen Mallory (Con) told today’s cabinet meeting the council had informed the DBID team it would be “pausing” its participation in the scheme until Mr Brokenshire had responded to the businesses.

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The council’s role in the process is to collect the levy from businesses. It would also be required to take action to recover money from any businesses that refused to pay.

Whitby ward Councillor Sandra Turner (Con) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it was right for the council to wait.

She said: “There have been a lot of concerns raised by businesses, particularly in Whitby, about the process and the setting up of the board for the DBID.

“Even though this is a private initiative and not a council project we felt that it was right that we wait until we hear back from the Secretary of State before going any further.”

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A meeting of around 70 businesses was held in Whitby last night against the DBID where the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers’ Association was formed.

One of those, Graham Collinson from Discovery Accommodation, said: “It’s about time the council started to listen to what the businesses are saying.

“We have been complaining about lack of information and consultation for a while now.

“It is not just businesses from Whitby, it is up and down the coast, we are getting people coming forward.

“I’d like to think common sense will prevail and they will cancel it.”