A Letter to the Editor from SANDRA TURNER, former Scarborough Borough Council Portfolio Holder and Whitby Town Councillor, bemoaning the abysmal performance and general lack of imagination evinced by Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd, a.k.a. ‘YCBID’, ‘DBID’, or ‘the BID’. And has there been more than a hint of plagiarism?
Yorkshire Coast Bid
NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE
“Yorkshire Coast Bid, Not Fit For Purpose”: a statement made by the Scarborough Brunswick Centre Manager, Sue Anderson-Brown, who goes on to point out the lack of support from the BID company throughout these exceedingly difficult trading times, the BID area being too large to be effective, with the BID company taking credit for work the Brunswick Centre are already implementing, etc.
I totally agree with her; now is the time for the BID company to take the hint and MOVE ON.
It is utterly immoral for the Yorkshire Coast BID company to blindly continue extracting levy payments from local businesses that are financially struggling due to the impact of COVID-19.
Many of those businesses remain unsure whether or not they will come out at the other end of this pandemic. I have it on very good authority that only 46% of the funds raised are spent on projects, leaving a massive 54% swallowed up in administration costs – hardly value for money, yet they tell us it is not a case of “a job for the boys”.
I have also heard, so many times, that the levy is not a vast amount for local businesses to find. Well, that depends on the size and income of each business. This is not only about how much each business pays into the BID, but also the principle that a levy is being imposed on businesses, an initiative which is supposed to be business-led yet a majority of those impacted by the levy totally disagree with the mandatory payment.
What exactly are the BID company doing, anyway?
I have today looked on the Yorkshire Coast Bid website, in particular the proposed projects to benefit Whitby. I just cannot believe what I saw included in the projects.
Project 1: “Coastal Route”
Sculptures located along the coastal route of the bid area.
The BID proudly states that they are working:
“to create key marker point sculptures that will not only fit within the coastal route but will also highlight the marine/fishing heritage the area is renowned for.
We have ring-fenced funding for a piece to be situated within Whitby and are currently exploring locations within the town to ensure it is located in the correct area.”
Well, LIGHTBULB MOMENT No.1 for the DBID!
We in Whitby are already working on the Whitby ‘Walking With Heritage’ Trail, celebrating our town’s very proud Fishing Heritage.
A total of TEN maritime-themed sculptures are being positioned in key locationa around the town. Funded, I might add, with Central Government funding which is specifically aimed at the regeneration of the town’s quieter streets, NOT funds from our local businesses!
No new initiative there by Yorkshire Coast BID – just an unimaginative duplication of an already existing project!
Overkill comes to mind.
Project 2: “Parking”
Again, the BID proudly states:
“To date, we have identified 3 different ways on how best to help direct visitors to available parking spaces, including the park and ride. All options carry significant investment and we are finalising 2 main proposals, which includes digital matrix boards before approaching local authorities and public agencies for additional funding.”
Ta-da! LIGHTBULB MOMENT No.2 for the DBID!
Again, the BID are attempting to take credit for work already underway. I am led to believe that this very same proposal has been put to NYCC from the Town Deal Board. Again, if successful this will be funded from the £25milllion Central Government funding – NOT funds from our local businesses.
When the DBID was first introduced, even though under an overwhelming volume of objections at the time (look to the Agenda Item 7b of the SBC Full Council meeting 1st March 2019), the position was entirely different to now. The fact is that none of us had ever heard of COVID-19, let alone having to live through the impact of a pandemic. This alone is surely sufficient reason to disband the obviously clueless DBID company.
The Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association (YCLPA), consisting of 400 independent businesses, took legal advice on the matter. That advice suggested SBC have the opportunity of looking at BID regulations, in particular through Regulation 17, which provides the option for the Council to adjust or amend the current scheme if it considers it be appropriate to do so. Or Regulation 18, which provides grounds for termination of BID agreements if, in the opinion of the Council, the BID company has insufficient finances to meet its obligations for the current bid period. Surely, if ever there was a time when insufficient funds are available, it is during a GLOBAL Pandemic that has decimated economies all over the world!
The BID company keeps falling back on their “government legal requirement” to continue collecting the levy. I am sure if they and SBC put their energy into discussions with our local MP (who has already questioned the continuation of the BID) and relevant government departments, the correct outcome could be achieved. Look at the BID Regulations, as suggested above. They are at least worthy of investigation.
The current SBC administration promised to listen, to communicate more. Well, now is the time to listen to the business fraternity of this Borough.
Exceptional times call for exceptional decisions.
Another one bites the dust!