“Money for Nothing”
A Letter to the Editor from BRIAN MATHEWS of Scarborough who has been examining the recent efforts of the Borough’s least favourite tourism promotion agency – and found them wanting.
Yorkshire Coast BID – A Bunch of Amateurs
I didn’t think I would need to write to you twice in just over a week.
The phrase ‘a bunch of amateurs’ is synonymous with another phrase – ‘a bunch of losers’ – and I am sure that many first-class business proprietors who (possibly for the right reasons) wanted to be involved with the BID must now be feeling pretty silly, especially with the recent email sent out to the unfortunate businesses these ‘BID bandits’ are legally ripping off.
On Friday, a lot of businesses received the following email from the Yorkshire Coast BID.
However, before I comment, I would add that in the middle of the COVID-19 issue, when the majority of tourism and retail businesses have had to put their staff on furlough, and possibly are now in a position where they will not re-open or have to lay off a number of their teams, it is shocking that the BID Company are sending out second-rate rubbish, complete with inaccuracies, in a futile attempt to make themselves look good.
It also created another two questions:
- If their staff are working, why are they working? They should surely have been on furlough. For the last 3 months, they have not added any value whatsoever; and,
- If they are on furlough, why have they broken the rules of the furlough and created the email?
As requested previously, answers on a pinhead, please.
So the Board of Directors is working on a strategy. What strategy? A strategy to keep the failing project alive. There is no cohesive initiative that will help any business survive, anywhere in the UK. I do not believe that owners/managers who have put themselves up as Directors of the Yorkshire Coast BID, along with the clerks who indicate that they administer the BID company, actually understand that fact and the stark reality that the bulk of their funds come from the same individual businesses that do not need their strategy to survive. As mentioned before, some will be very lucky to survive.
PPE National Buying Group – The £30,000 figure mentioned is just a number. It has no basis. Any business doing their own homework can achieve their part of this number. I do (as do others) each time a contract is up with all my businesses and for on one of them, I have recently conferred with a broker and created a saving of about £3,000 between the out-of-contract figure to the 2-year contract. I have 4 businesses. With the others, another £6,000 saving could be achieved. So collectively, I alone am showing a £10,000 saving – 1/3 of the Meercat number from just one proprietor. If the BID company has paid for such an outcome, it is an utter disgrace.
The reality should be that the Meercat number is the actual difference of their contract price to that which any other intermediary can provided – i.e. the number is the Meercat commission payment foregone. My £10,000 will then come down to about £700 commission paid to the intermediary. A Levy Payment for most is above this number and most businesses do not have more than 1 business.
Once again, they are recommending that money from Yorkshire Coast Businesses is spent out of town with Meercat, meaning that a local business does not generate the profit for businesses in Scarborough like Focus or Spectrum, or indeed Coverdales in Whitby. I have spoken with one of them and the reality is that all over the country, at present, PPE is like rocking-horse poo and neither they nor I can see how a Kent-based outfit can help when a local one cannot.
Nursing Homes in Scarborough are going without PPE as most of the supply has been ‘hoovered up’ for the NHS. Businesses are taking orders that they cannot promptly fulfil.
The BID people say they are here to help local businesses. They are doing no such thing when their choice of business partner is based 250 miles away.
The National Campaign for High Streets is just that. National. Not a YCBID initiative.
East Riding Business Resource Grant is nothing to do with the BID, nor is the Discretionary Business Grant. Additionally, the SBC URL-link re their grant does not work.
Free Signs for Social Distancing – here is a link from a Google search that is free: Avery templates for social distancing stickers and signs
B&B workshops – Most B&B’s do not pay the Levy. Bit like the ‘Shopappy’ promoting mobile businesses that do not pay.
Public Space – Again, this is a Council issue not a Levy payer one.
Finally, the NY Business Hub membership is open to anyone. It is a NYCC initiative. It is not a benefit specific to levy-payers. Anyone can benefit. Whilst the Hub’s pages suggest they can benefit all businesses, the reality is that it is aimed at the start-up and initial growth market. Businesses looking to scale up will need other professional teams, not a part-time coach.
Overall, this YCBID document has nothing to offer but a few signposts to information that is in any case only a Google away. Thanks for nothing. It shows, at a glance, that it has been written for no other purpose than to fill a page in an attempt to look good – on the back of other people’s projects. It may even be that my letter last week has jolted them into drumming up an appearance of some sort of action.
It is going to be very interesting if they ever try to send out another bill in the current climate, which will conclusively prove, as I said at the beginning, that they do not have any sense of the reality of the current economic climate.
Scarborough, 9th June 2020
The Audit Committee comprises:
- Mr St John Harris (Secretary)
- Councillor Alex Bailey [Lab.] (Vice-Chair)
- Councillor G Andrew Backhouse [Ind.] (Chairman)
- Councillor David Chance [Con.]
- Councillor Rich Maw [Lab.]
- Councillor Mrs Heather Phillips [Con.]
- Councillor Jim Grieve [Ind.]
- Dr Jim BRACE (Independent Person)
NB: Dr BRACE is both a Labour activist and (contrariwise) the duly appointed ‘Independent’ Person. He has not issued a public denial to the widely-publicised suggestion that he is, indeed, a ‘Labour Party stooge’.