East Riding Council to sign up to controversial Yorkshire Coast BID

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 1 Mar 2019

East Riding Council is to formally sign up to a controversial new project aimed at improving the local economy.

Cabinet members approved plans to participate in the proposed Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) on Tuesday - despite uncertainty over when it will be set up.

The council will get a director's spot alongside three neighbouring authorities to the north as part of plans to raise £5m over the next five years for coastal communities and businesses.

Back in November, 217 businesses voted in favour of the introducing a mandatory annual levy on traders with a rateable value of £12,000 or more -  with 175 voting against the proposals.

Since then, Scarborough Council announced that it was "pausing" its involvement in the scheme until the Government has ruled on the legality of the vote, after a group of businesses in Whitby launched an appeal into the BID process.

READ MORE: Council leader wants Humber unity after Yorkshire devolution deal snub

 Meanwhile, the Whitby Business Group has also claimed that the voting process was "undemocratic" and that some businesses never received their ballot papers.

There are also questions over the 71 votes local authorities were allocated, which is greater than the majority of the votes cast in favour of the scheme.

A number of Whitby businesses have written to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Local Government, asking him to set aside the result of the public vote last year that approved the BID.

East Riding Council's director of planning and economic regeneration, Alan Menzies, acknowledged that the BID project is currently encountering a number of problems beyond the authority's control.

He said: "It did appear that the Yorkshire Coast BID proposal was progressing reasonably well, however in the intervening period it is now fairly clear that this is not the case.

"There's a little bit of local difficulty in Whitby and Scarborough, which has resulted in an appeal to the Secretary of State from businesses in Whitby.

"I've had some discussions with Scarborough and I've also had some discussions with the organisation who is managing this, and what's been agreed is that if the cabinet does approve this report no action will be taken until the local difficulties are satisfactorily resolved."

Read more: Yorkshire devolution and mayor plans rejected by Government

Mr Menzies recommended that the council sign the operating agreement to join the BID company, before confirming the next steps as to where the organisation will go from here.

He added: "The company will stay in the position it is in now which is registered but not functioning and operating and hopefully the legal difficulties will be resolved.

"I think it is fair to say that we are not involved in any respect with these difficulties - they are local difficulties - so what we've set out is the next steps of how this will be progressed."

In a nod to the failed 'One Yorkshire' devolution plan , leader of the council Stephen Parnaby quipped: "It is all very interesting. It bodes well for Yorkshire devolution that we can't agree with Scarborough and Whitby."

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