Bridlington businesses are set to find out if a £5million scheme to promote the Yorkshire coast has got the go-ahead.
The results of a ballot on whether a Business Improvement District will be set up in the region are due to be announced, If there is a ‘yes’ vote, large hotels, shops and restaurants in Bridlington will have to pay an annual levy, estimated at a few hundred pounds, which will be used to set up new events and improve marketing of the area.
BID project manager Kerry Carruthers said she was hopeful the scheme will get approval.
She said: “We have been encouraged by the number of businesses who have said they will vote yes.
“It takes a bit of a leap of faith. We are never going to win everybody round. But the most encouraging thing is that there is a definite will for businesses to take control of what happens in their areas.
“We are not promising that we will fix every problem in the town but there are key things we can look to improve, that will ensure businesses get their money back quickly.
“This shouldn’t put any kind of burden on businesses.”
If it gets the green light, every retail, leisure, accommodation and food and drink organisation in Bridlington, Scarborough and Whitby with a rateable value of £12,000 and above will have to pay into a mandatory levy, which would be calculated at 1.5% of that value.
Businesses which vote against the levy would still have to pay, and it is estimated that most will have to cough up between £180 and £500 per year.
The BID team must secure more than 50% of the businesses to vote in favour. Also, the total rateable value of those who vote ‘yes’ must exceed that of the ‘no’ votes.
Scarborough seems to have given a warmer welcome to the project than Whitby, where the town council has said it is against the plan because businesses cannot opt out.
Mrs Carruthers said: “The reaction in Bridlington has been pretty similar to the rest of the coast - it has been somewhat mixed but on the whole, it has been positive.
“This will certainly make a difference.
“Part of it will be looking at Bridlington’s identity, to make sure people are aware of what the town is known for. Is it for days out or is it for nature-related activities?
“What is the Bridlington visitor experience, and that doesn’t matter if you come here from Leeds, London or just outside Bridlington.”
She said the pot of money could be used to set up new events, look at parking initiatives to encourage more visitors, improve the offering at Christmas time and environmental projects which could create a plastic-free coastline.
The project will see the £5million spent over five years.
Scarborough will have just over £1million of that, Bridlington will get almost £400,000, which is slightly more than Whitby’s share. there will also be a fund for projects in villages along the coast and a large chunk of the money will be used to benefit the area as a whole.
“York has a BID and it is doing fantastic things,” insisted Mrs Carruthers. “If BIDs weren’t working, they wouldn’t get brought in.”
The results of the BID ballot are due to be announced in Scarborough tomorrow.
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