Directors of tourism company urged to resign after Scarborough councillors vote for its 'speedy closure'

The directors of the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (Bid) have been urged to resign after councillors voted for its "speedy closure".
Business packed into the gallery to hear the meetingBusiness packed into the gallery to hear the meeting
Business packed into the gallery to hear the meeting

A vote of no confidence was unanimously passed by Scarborough councillors at an extraordinary general meeting at Scarborough Town Hall on Thursday afternoon.

The motion passed by councillors included a resolution to "work with the Bid to bring about its speedy closure".

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The gallery was packed with businesses who object to the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (Bid), which uses levies from more than 1,300 firms between Staithes and Spurn Point to promote tourism.

Councillors unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the Bid tourism company  Credit: You TubeCouncillors unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the Bid tourism company  Credit: You Tube
Councillors unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in the Bid tourism company Credit: You Tube

The Bid has been controversial since the 2018 ballot, run by Scarborough Borough Council, was passed by a margin of 217 in favour with 175 against, on a turnout of just over 29 per cent.

It later came to light that 68 votes came from the two councils. Car parks and toilets were among those premises given a vote. Also included was a BBC transmitting station, bus stations, funeral directors and mobility scooter shops.

Councillor Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff sent a direct message to the chairman of the Bid, Clive Rowe-Evans: "My message to Clive Rowe-Evans and all those at the Bid is the number's up.

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"You either get the support from businesses, or your days are numbered.

There was standing room onlyThere was standing room only
There was standing room only

"It's your choice - get support or get out of town - it's as simple as that."

She told the meeting: "The problem is too many of the Bid votes came from the councils and as a result it is not accountable to businesses. It was a fundamental flaw in setting up the Bid."

Hero Sumner, who chairs a group of businesses campaigning against the tax, called on the directors of the Bid company to resign.

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A number of businesses are facing court hearings in November because they have refused to pay the tourism tax, which they say is not wanted and not needed.

She said: "Because the Bid is a private limited company it has to terminate itself - they have to make a decision to close the company.

"If the chairman resigns and all the other directors do, we are there, because there will be no Bid company, because they can't press for further payments. They should resign."

After the meeting businesses went to the registered offices of the Bid company on The Crescent in Scarborough, saying they wanted to become members and had been unable to do so online.

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Businessman James Corrigan said the council now needed to turn its words into action: "Obviously the politicians are very aware of public feeling on this. It would have been political suicide to swim against the tide of public opinion.

"All of these businesses are also residents of the town who employ local people - this isn't about businesses, it is about people taking control."

However Mr Rowe-Evans said the Bid intended to carry on until "at least July 2024" and insisted the motion had been "largely strong-armed" by a "select" group of businesses.

He said: "We’ve been saddened to witness some of the behaviour which a number of our staff and directors have also been subject to.

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“Some of the figures quoted and the evidence presented in the lead up to the decision has not been accurate and reflective of the work that has been delivered by the Yorkshire Coast BID over the last 3 years.

“In the last three years, we’ve invested £489,000 back into Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and surrounding villages on a number of different initiatives, all to promote, protect and support local businesses. We support grassroots projects like Scarborough Stories which has sought to empower individuals to grow and share their work and passion for the town. Projects such as this give a voice to the next generation of entrepreneurs and creatives.

“As a region, we all want to strive towards the same common goal – to support the success of the Yorkshire coast and better it for future generations – and this is something we should be delivering together, as a united community.

“We’re incredibly proud of our involvement in such a wide range of different projects which showcase and highlight the cultural offering available across the different coastal towns and will continue our work supporting all those levy payers who have backed the BID until at least July 2024.

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"This will not distract us from promoting and protecting Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and all the villages in-between as part of our wonderful coastal area.”

A spokesperson for Scarborough Council said: “We acknowledge that some businesses on the Yorkshire coast and our own councillors have concerns and frustrations about the BID.

"We collect the BID levy because we are the billing authority, but the organisation itself is a private company and totally independent of us.

“While we have no legal powers to end the BID, we acknowledge the unanimous vote of no confidence in the BID at full council and the other five resolutions councillors voted in

favour of. These include the resolve to work with the BID company to bring about its speedy closure.”

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