Renewed DBID Challenge in Whitby
The Enquirer has obtained a copy of an email from a Whitby businessman to Councillor Liz COLLING [Lab.], the Portfolio Holder for Economy, Communities & Commercial, explaining the rationale behind the burgeoning objection to the Yorkshire Coast Destination BID (DBID).
Councillor COLLING has asserted, in Full Council, that the Council cannot lawfully revoke the process and will be sending out Levy Bills from 1st August 2019, come what may. Non-payers will be subject to the Council’s normal debt-collection procedures.
The word on the street is that efforts to organise an en masse refusal to pay is gathering pace.
Councillor COLLING may not be aware that there is a get-out clause . . . maybe the Enquirer can help?
Dear Cllr Colling
3 July ’19
The Yorkshire Coast BID will drive a wedge between business and the Council. There is only one pot of money and when business have to pay the BID levy they will take money from elsewhere, I have been informed by a couple of businesses they are withdrawing funding to other schemes in protest at the bid. It is a pity that small business who employ so many people, will now have to make cut back, this will now be down the current Council administration.
The Sec of State, did not accept our appeal, and therefore he did not consider our arguments which are still valid.
Scarborough Council had a duty to ensure the BID process was followed to the letter, and that business would not be discriminated against. Please can you provide the evidence that the BID complied with all the rules and regulations and that business sectors were not discriminated against. How you determined there was no discrimination, your procedure and processes you had in place to ensure the BID group complied with the regulations. Please provide evidence of compliance.
To assist you I have listed below some areas of concern.
I have provided a brief summary of some issues below which I hope will clarify the situation.
1/ The notice of ballot
Notice of ballot was dated 18th Oct 2018 with voting open on 1st Nov 2018 ending on the 29 Nov 2018
Rules for Notice of ballot is within Schedule 2 to the BID Regulations stating the key dates as follows:
- The ballot holder shall, at least 42 days before the day of the ballot—
(a) publish notice of the ballot stating—
(i) the day of the ballot; and
(ii) that the ballot will be taken entirely by post, with votes to be returned by 5p.m. on the day of the ballot;
(b) prepare a list of persons entitled to vote and proxies (if any);
(c) send to each person entitled to vote or, if applicable, his proxy a statement which–
(i) explains the arrangements for the ballot;
(ii) explains that regulation 4(3) allows that person to request a copy of the BID proposals from the BID proposer; and
(iii) provides the name and address of the BID proposer; and
(d) send to the Secretary of State a copy of the notice referred to in sub-paragraph (a).
The notice was defective because it was sent 2nd class and post marked 18th Oct, therefore the required minimum 42 days clear notice was not given. In addition, postal delay for service was not allowed and the notice of ballot should have been posted at least 3 days prior i.e on the 15th Oct.
2/ BID proposal – significant and material change
The BID originally consisted of 3 Authorities, Scarborough Council (SBC), East Riding of Yorkshire (ERYC) and Redcar and Cleveland (RCBC). On the 10th Oct 2018 Redcar and Cleveland Council informed the BID proposer that they were withdrawing from the BID. This was 21 days prior to the start of the voting period. The loss of approx 33% of the business and income was a significant and material event which should have been communicated to the remaining levy payers. The remaining levy payers were not informed of this event.
The BID proposer had to prepare a new business plan and financial information prior to the 1st of Nov 18 when voting opened. The business plan made no mention of the significant changes.
Delivery of the business plan was late and arrived in many cases after the 1st Nov, this allowed votes to be cast on incorrect and out of date information.
3/ Final business plan
The information which shall be provided within the final business plan is set out in Schedule 1 of the BID regulation.
1.(b) a statement of the existing baseline services (if any) provided by the relevant billing authority or other public authority;
No baseline statements were provided.
1.(c) a description of the geographical area (including a map showing that area) in which the proposed BID arrangements are to have effect;
The BID area is vast with approx 70 miles of coast line and covering about 140 square miles. It was indispensably necessary that a definitive plan was produced and made available. The BID proposer failed to provide a description or map. A list of street names was provided (no numbers, no business names, no rateable values, no start or finish grid reference coordinates, no means of identifying the area or businesses). No definitive map identifying the area was issued. Requests for information including the map were ignored or refused by the BID proposer.
We, the levy payers, were denied the opportunity to locate and contact other businesses to discuss and debate the BID proposal with other levy payers. The BID proposer had a policy of not providing information.
In January 2019, a Google map was made available on the proposer’s website which identified the area with a blue line. Through a FOI request to Scarborough Council sent in December, finally received the levy payer list (no RV) in February 2019. Using the map and list we carried out a small sample check of the area around Whitby and identified anomalies.
A/ Whole hereditaments
In relation to sub-paragraph (1)(c), the geographical area in which BID arrangements are to have effect shall not include part only of a whole hereditament.
Three properties have the line passing through the hereditament, namely York House Caravan park and Manor Farm Cottages and River gardens
B/ Businesses with no vote within the sample area
Ruswarp – filling ftation RV £24500
Wilf Noble – building supplies RV £47000
MKM – building suppliers RV £55000
Jewson – building supplies RV £29000
Coates Marine RV £21750
Beevers RV £34500
Hawsgarth Lodge RV
Millby Hill Country Store RV £62000
C/ Businesses given a vote outside the sample area
Barn Owl tea room
Seaton holiday cottage
The Woodlands Hotel
Serenity Caravan park
1 (d) Ratepayer classes
a statement of whether all non-domestic ratepayers in the geographical area or a specified class of them are to be liable to the BID levy, an explanation of how the amount of the BID levy to be levied is to be calculated and an explanation of whether any of the costs incurred in developing the BID proposals, holding of the ballot or implementing the BID are to be recovered through the BID levy;
The BID proposer used non standard names for classes which have no correlation with the use classes and sub classes of the non domestic rates list. Therefore it was impossible for businesses to establish which class or classes were relevant to them.
1.(h) a statement of the commencement date of the BID arrangements.
No start date was given in the final business plan.
I had 4 hereditaments and I can state that I only received 3 voting cards. I was leaving the country and so contacted the BID proposer, but it was too late to obtain a voting card before departing the country. This is a 25% failure rate.
There are number of businesses who will state and provide an affidavit that they received no information whatsoever and had no contact with the BID proposer. or the information that they were entitled to one vote per hereditament.
I hope you find the above of value. I look forward to receiving your reply within the official time frame.
for Yorkshire Coast Levy Payers Association