Thursday 04th June 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Dear Steve” (…about that BID…)

“Dear Steve” (…about that BID…)

  • an Open Letter by NIGEL WARD.

~~~~~

Councillor Steve SIDDONS
Town Hall
St Nicholas St
Scarborough
North Yorks
YO11 2HG
Telephone: 01723-232323
Email: cllr.steve.siddons@scarborough.gov.uk

Steve,

Apropos the Yorkshire Coast BID

I write to you on behalf of certain business proprietors in the Borough with regard to the subject matter of Mr STANYON’s Report on the management of the ballot undertaken by the SBC Elections Team to authorise the incorporation of Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd. I do so here in the public domain since there is no reason why their legitimate concerns should, on my account, languish in the email “vexatious” bin until the Mediterranean freezes over. (Thus am I prevented from achieving your desired standard of confidentiality).

Being mindful of your period of inactivity, I shall begin by reproducing, as an aide-mémoire, Finance Director Nick EDWARDS’ recommendation to the Audit Committee, including Mr STANYON’s Report, here (for download) and below, which I feel sure will fix the crucial issues at the forefront of your mind:

Download the PDF file AUDIT/STANYON_Report.

I invite you, too, to refresh your memory of my initial reaction to the Report, as published in the Enquirer in an article entitled “Blatantly Unfair” on 15th March 2020 – please follow the link.

The following day (16th March 2020), I was able to arrange for the publication of a solicitor’s letter to the Borough Council from Mr Gareth PINWELL, acting for the renowned legal firm of ASHFORDS LLP, on behalf of the Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association (YCLPA), which letter reiterated some of my own concerns and set out a devastating indictment of the way in which the SBC Elections Team, under the direction of former Returning Officer (and CEO), Mr Jim DILLON, had fallen so inexcusably short of the regulatory requirements regarding the conduct of the ballot process as to render it ‘unlawful’ in a number of salient respects. I present Mr PINWELL’s letter here (for download), and below:

Download the PDF file PINWELL_Letter.

Moving on: you may not, on account of your indisposition at that time, recall that the meeting of the Audit Committee scheduled for Thursday 19th March 2020 did not take place (in light of the then looming ‘Lockdown’); thus, Mr EDWARDS’ recommendations were not considered; no debate took place; no questions were addressed and no decisions were made.

What did take place that day, Thursday 19th March 2019, is that the Enquirer published my Open Letter to Mrs Caroline LACEY, who you will know as the CEO and Returning Officer of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, appealing to her to withdraw, in light of the foregoing, Summonses issued by that Council seeking Liability Orders against thirty-eight defendants in respect of non-payment of their BID levy invoices – please follow the link.

I was gratified to learn, two days later on Saturday 21st March 2020, that the Summonses had indeed been deferred. Naturally, I have expressed my gratitude and appreciation to Mrs LACEY.

I would hope that you concur in the view that this was a just and reasonable ‘stopping of the clock’ and Mrs LACEY must be congratulated on her foresight and prudence.

However, now that the Prime Minister has indicated that, by degrees, the cogs of process must – be it ever so slowly – begin to revolve, those on whose behalf I write are turning their own thoughts to the matter of how and when the ‘unlawful’ (I quote Mr PINWELL) ballot upon which the incorporation of Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd was predicated will, finally and belatedly, be satisfactorily addressed.

In these times of dire uncertainty and daunting challenge, few will find an appetite for litigation. Many businesses in the tourism sector will struggle to survive even without the prospect of mounting legal costs and without, res ipsa loquitor, the added burden of the levy. Many may feel that it would be fitting, in this hour of need, were the £6.2M that the government has promised the BID companies to instead be distributed pro rata amongst the levy-payers themselves . . .

I come now to the sharp end of my Open Letter to you:

Will you now ensure, as you are reported to have previously insisted (at a time preceding your accession to the Leadership), that a Motion be set before Council that the roster of failures attributed to the Scarborough Borough Council Elections Team be set to rights, quashing the result of that flawed initial ballot, and instructing CEO and Returning Officer Mr Mike GREENE to implement a re-run which fully satisfies the statutory requirements – and to do this before any further penny of levy money changes hands and before any further opprobrium befalls the Council?

I look forward to your prompt response (a simple ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Don’t know’ will suffice, though by all means feel free to expatiate in your own words), by email to: letters@nyenquirer.uk with the words ‘PLEASE FORWARD TO NIGEL’ in the subject line.

On a more personal note, it is good to see that you are ‘back in the saddle’, so to say. Now that you are once again able to set about resuming your rôle, I have been asked to enquire whether or not you will be donating a ten weeks pro rata increment of your Leader’s Allowance to the needy in the Borough through the good offices of a local charity of your own choice? That would be a worthy gesture, demonstrating true leadership; it may, indeed, be considered dishonourable to do otherwise.

And on that note, I wish you a full recovery from your on-going wellbeing deficit, offering the following words of avuncular advice:

Avoid stress.

Yours, with kind regards,

Nigel

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