BID Protests at Fever Pitch
- – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reproducing, in the public interest, a welter of appeals by business proprietors – including former YCBID Directors – urging Councillors to support the Vote of No Confidence on Thursday 28th July 2022.
In the interests of “openness and transparency”, it is important that, ahead of the Vote, Councillors should be aware that the wider public is fully informed about the strength and depth of informed opinion stacking up against Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd.
In the interests of balanced reporting, I have included a belated and rather sorry plea by YCBID Chair Mr Clive ROWE-EVANS which one suspects will fall upon ears already deafened by his silence thus far.
Following ratification by SBC’s Audit Committee last week, the following Recommendations of the Working Group’s report were accepted and approved by the committee:
- That the new unitary Council for North Yorkshire should not play an active role in any future ballot to re-establish the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District at the end of the current BID’s term
- That the Yorkshire Coast BID should be business led and that the new unitary Council for North Yorkshire should abstain from voting in any future ballot to re-establish the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District at the end of the current BID’s term.
- That the new unitary Council for North Yorkshire should have the opportunity to debate and declare whether they are or are not in support of a renewal of the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District at the end of the current BID’s term.
- That Scarborough Borough Council should make a formal determination on its representation on the YCBID Board and whether it should be a Member, Officer, or one of each by means of an alternative Director.
It should be noted that the first three of these Recommendations cannot be binding on the new Unitary Council – they are merely polite requests. Only the fourth falls within the gift of SBC. None of the Recommendations suffices to terminate the BID. Thus, business proprietors – including former Directors of Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd – continue to press for a ‘final solution’.
Examining the latest YCBID Financial Overview figures, it is easy to make a case for the BID to be abandoned on grounds of representing abysmal Value for Money (VFM), with only £1.4M spent on ‘projects’ (puppets, puffins, tour buses, etc) and a sum equal to almost half of that (£0.7M) on their own continued existence! Small wonder that the BID company declined the option of external auditing.
Readers are invited to read and digest the following correspondence – letters from prominent business leaders (including former BID Directors) who have spoken out against the BID. SBC CEO Mike GREENE will be leaving a Council that has not merely alienated the community but drawn its total hostility.
Councillors will no doubt be aware that there is likely to be a Recorded Vote on Thursday. Even if they are so blasé (given that they will not be facing elections next May) – so blasé as to consider themselves immune to electoral wrath, one might expect them to be confident of escaping politically unscathed.
I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the following image (purportedly a cropped photo of a poster in a Scarborough shop window), sent to me by a former Councillor:
If it is genuine – and I emphasise “if” – then the implication seems to be that Councillors who turn their backs on businesses will be free to reflect on their treachery – at their leisure.
Somewhat ambiguously, the message accompanying the image reads:
“The businesses are revolting!”
In one sense, I might expect the high-handed BID supremo to agree.
And now for those letters . . .
FORMER Yorkshire Coast BID Directors
Rudi BARMAN – former YCBID Director
21/22 Foreshore Road, Scarborough, YO11 1PB
25th July ’22
EXTRAORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING 28 JULY 2022
YORKSHIRE COAST BID LIMITED (“the BID Company”)
I note with interest the forthcoming meeting of the full Council and the motion that is to be considered.
You will be aware that I was a Director of the BID Company, but resigned in June 2020. As a Director charged with running the BID for the benefit of the Businesses I was in a very privileged position to use the vehicle to provide benefit to the local traders. That was the reason I was involved in the organisation. However, my views changed during the period I was on the Board for the following reasons:
1. I could not accept the decision to continue to charge BID Levy during the pandemic, particularly when the Government had removed the requirement to pay business rates to those businesses that were most severely impacted – the leisure and hospitality sector – the very same businesses that were subject to the Levy.
2. To make matters worse, the BID Company offered no practical support to the Levy payers.
3. After the investigation into the ballot process I learned that the Councils (ERYC and SBC) block votes swung the ballot. This combined with the fact that I was summoned to a meeting by an SBC Officer during the BID ballot process and informed how others had voted in an attempt to sway me to vote for the BID made me realisehow this was being pushed through by our Council, not the businesses.
4. The Board became heavily tipped with Council officers rather than business owners.
5. It was clear that a large number of businesses were extremely unhappy with the BID and significant time was being wasted trying to fight the challenges from the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association, to the detriment of engaging with the concerns of businesses who we were supposed to support.
6. There was a very clear lack of transparency in the decision making process and secrecy over the accounts. For an organisation that should be proud of what it was doing this was unacceptable.
For the above reasons my position was untenable and I had to resign. Once I had resigned I ceased paying the Levy in protest. I have been summonsed to Court for non-payment.
In summary, the idea of a BID works in principle, however the Yorkshire Coast BID has failed. The main reason for this is the area of operation is far too big. The BID would have been successful if it was focused on a much smaller area of businesses that wanted to join together for their mutual benefit. In a way we already have this with for example the South Bay Traders Association. The Yorkshire Coast BID was not wanted by the businesses. It was forced through by a Council that perceived an opportunity to save some costs from its tight budgets. It was a huge mistake. This Council must take responsibility for that and do whatever it takes to put matters right.
I am happy for you to share this letter with other members of the Council, if you feel it would be a worthwhile contribution.
John SENIOR – former YCBID Director
Mark MILLER – former YCBID Director
Miller’s Amusements – Whitby
As you may know, I was always sceptical about the BID. I thought it was extra Business Rates – by the back door.
Even though my businesses pay more than enough in taxes, more than a heavy burden, I joined the BID company to make sure everything was above board and that Whitby got its fair share of whatever cash became available.
The fact is, I was never happy about being a Director. I found the board meetings very slow paced. There was no innovation or direction and the project ideas were uninspiring.
I was never intending staying on the Board for any length of time. I found it too bureacratic and stodgy.
I finally left when the pandemic started and I felt the pressure on my own business and that demanded my full attention. And I synpathised with other businesses when they complained to me about getting no help or support from the BID.
For me, the BID was never business-led. It was driven by Scarborough Borough Council, with much conflict of interests with NYCC and Highways. No-one could agree on any meaningful projects.
I was also unhappy about the levy charge over the lockdown period, when Business Rates were cancelled.
I was disappointed when, after all the effort delivering the Giant Sculptures in 2019, none appeared in Scarborough, Whitby, Filey or Bridlington because they could not obtain site approval from Highways. To date, only one site has materialised, out of the way, off the beaten path, down near Spurn Point, of all places. SBC, NYCC and Highways have been obstructive, dictating the direction of the BID – not businesses, as it was originally portrayed.
I still have yet to see any tourism enhancement or development from the BID company. I ask around and I see that people on the coast want nothing more to do with the BID. It is an extra taxation burden with nothing to show for it. I really think it’s time to write it off as a failed experiment. Businesses know for themselves how to attract business and the BID has given them nothing they need.
OTHER Business Leaders
Opera House Casino – Scarborough
Dear Councillor Siddons and Councillor Colling,
Please find attached letters from Nikolas and Becky Shaw, Directors of Nikolas Shaw Ltd, Nobles Seaton Carew and A&G Amusements, regarding the upcoming Vote of Confidence in the Yorkshire Coast Bid. The attachment includes a letter from each of the companies.
Business Services Manager
56-64 St Thomas Street, Scarborough, YO11 1DU
JOHN BULL Confectioners
From: James Corrigan
To: “Cllr.Steve Siddons” <Cllr.Steve.Siddons@scarborough.gov.uk>
Cc: All Cllrs; Robert Goodwill MP, Alex Wood – Yorkshire Post, Richard Edwards – BBC Radio, Hero Sumner – YCLPA
Subject: EGM YORKSHIRE COAST BID
Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District
We would please urge you to read the letters to the Executive of SBC, The Secretary of State, and our Member of Parliament. The response from the Minister in August 2020 can also be found below:
The following letter from our professional body, British BIDs, sent to the Secretary of State is also worth reading with regards to this matter.
Should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me personally.
Chair, Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District