Proposer: Cllr S Cross
Seconder: Cllr N Murphy
The Council considered the following motion which was proposed by Councillor Sam Cross and seconded by Councillor Donohue-Moncrieff:
Full Council resolves that in recognition of legitimate criticism of the ballot process underpinning the Yorkshire Coast DBID, to set aside all involvement with this and other DBIDs for a period of five years.
It was agreed that Council Procedure Rules be suspended for this item to enable the motion to be debated. Councillor Vesey questioned the relevance of five years – was not this too long a period of time to prevent the Council and local businesses revisiting the DBID opportunity? Councillor Paul Cross felt the DBID was wrong in principle because of its adverse impact on many small businesses at this challenging time for the high street, and felt it should be rejected. Councillor Turner who represented the east side of Whitby where many businesses affected by the DBID were located, highlighted their serious concerns about the consultation process underpinning the DBID which had excluded some of them. She had shared these concerns with the Leader and other Members of the Cabinet, and as a consequence the Leader had written to the DBID company to suspend the Council’s involvement until a definitive response had been received by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to businesses’ request to disregard the result of the ballot. Councillor Turner therefore urged caution about the DBID and voiced her support for the motion. The Portfolio Holder for Legal and Governance, Councillor Nock, although sympathising with businesses’ concerns, commented that he could not support the motion in its current form, since the Council did not have the legal authority to enact it, thereby committing the next administration and the one after to inaction on an initiative which may prove ultimately of benefit to local businesses. He therefore proposed the following amendment:
‘Full Council resolves that in recognition of legitimate criticism of the ballot process underpinning the Yorkshire Coast DBID, to set aside all involvement with it until such time as the Secretary of State has determined the appeal. We will then consider our position along with the business community and will have the opportunity to take considered advice’. The amended motion was then seconded by the Leader, Councillor Bastiman. In response to a query by Councillor Siddons, the Monitoring Officer, Mrs Dixon confirmed that if the Secretary of State were to reject the appeal, then the DBID would go ahead, and then according to Councillor Nock’s amendment, the Council would take considered advice on how to address local businesses’ concerns and any other relevant matters. Conversely, should the appeal be upheld, the Council would also re-consider its position, and explore the options available. The Leader, Councillor Bastiman assured Councillor Siddons, that should the appeal be upheld, the matter including the next steps the Council should take based on considered advice, would come back to full Council for determination. Councillor Bastiman also confirmed that he had written to the Chairman of the DBID to suspend the Council’s involvement and to the Director of the Mosaic Partnership to relate his concerns about the DBID process – a communication he had copied to the Secretary of State. Other Members then spoke for and against the amendment. Of the arguments against the amendment (and the DBID), including those made by the proposer, Councillor Sam Cross, were that the amendment did not go far enough; the Secretary of State may reject the appeal; the voting process was flawed including the omission of businesses which should have been consulted; the Borough Council was heavily involved in the DBID and the Borough Council had not heeded businesses’ concerns; if the votes of constituent local authorities had not been taken into account, then the ballot result would have been to reject the DBID since most local businesses opposed it; the DBID would unfairly levy manufacturing businesses who had no stake in the visitor economy (this proposition was later corrected – only the tourism sector such as accommodation, retail and hospitality were liable to pay the levy); the DBID area was too big; the DBID was an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy when there were already enough resources to promote tourism; it was unfair that all businesses which met the eligibility criteria were compelled to pay the levy. Those arguments in favour of the amendment included that by passing the original motion, the Council would be acting ultra vires, and that the original motion would make no difference to the outcome of the appeal to the Secretary of State, that is, should the appeal be upheld, then the Borough Council would be directed to re-hold the ballot. The motion as amended by Councillor Nock was then put to the vote and was carried.