Business owners in Mablethorpe have expressed their concerns after being handed a bill for a scheme designed to help improve the coastal economy.
The Lincolnshire Coastal Destination Business Improvement District (BID) launched a major £3million strategy earlier this year aimed at bringing growth and investment to an area stretching north of Donna Nook, through to Mablethorpe, Wainfleet and Skegness.
Businesses along the 22-mile coastal strip will help fund the project and started receiving bills two weeks ago based on a 1.5 per cent annual levy on commercial premises with a rateable value of at least £5,000.
This levy is expected to generate around £3million over the next five years.
In March this year, businesses were asked to take part in a vote to decide whether there was enough support for the project.
Now, a number of business owners in Mablethorpe say they are not happy with the levy, claiming they did not take part in the vote.
Some business owners add they have not received an explanation about the levy and knew nothing about it - until the bills arrived.
Kath Barker, who owns The Blitz Tearoom in Fitzwilliam Street said: “I opened up the business in April, got the keys in February and I’ve not received any letters regarding the levy or given any chance to vote.
“I received the bill last week but no explanation, so I’m not very happy about it.”
Gary Porter, from the Regency Cafe in Victoria Road, said he had been sent a bill but claimed he received no information and is upset he wasn’t aware of the charge.
He believes the additional outlay might lead to job losses and some businesses closing down.
Susan Madge, who runs Liberty’s Dive Bar, said she feels the project will benefit bigger businesses and those based closer to the beach -but won’t be helpful to the majority of others further away.
Mayor of Mablethorpe, Sutton on Sea and Trusthorpe, Councillor Tony Mee said: “I feel this levy will be an extra burden on businesses. It’s an expense they don’t need and I don’t think businesses in Mablethorpe will benefit from it.”
The town council will have to pay the levy after taking over the running of the beach huts in Mablethorpe earlier this year.
Stuart Hardy, chairman of the Lincolnshire Coastal BID Board, said: “The DMO (Destination Management Organisation) were unable to provide funding for events and drive footfall. By pooling resources the BID will be able to drive more visitors throughout the coastal strip, to support the entire business community which is dependent on tourism. 2017 has been an unusual year, so we must now work together to ensure the BID improves our trading environment.”
How BID team plan to give East Lindsey coast a cash boost....
Leading officials behind the BID team - headed by manager Lisa Collins - have responded to a negative reaction by some businesses.
They have revealed a list of attractions being planned to attract more visitors to the East Coast - with Mablethorpe set to play a key role.
The events include the return of the popular summer firework displays in both Mablethorpe and Skegness, the return of the summer illuminations switch-on event for Skegness, a Vintage Seaside Festival, a sand-scuplting festival at Mablethorpe to co-incide with World Ocean Day and additional events for Halloween, as well as supporting Christmas festivities.
A Coastal Events Guide, providing a comprehensive list of events along the coast, is to be produced in March and will also be available to view online on the BID’s new website – currently under construction.
Production of a new video is also underway to highlight the offering of the natural and wild coast, and this will be followed later by a ‘fun coast’ video for the more traditional offering of seaside resorts.
The BID voting process explained....
There were 1,126 tourism and retail businesses eligible to vote for the BID levy.
Results of a postal ballot showed only 269 actually voted.
Of those, 202 voted in favour - well over the 50 per cent figure needed to progress the scheme.
As a result, BID went ahead.
The levy is mandatory for all businesses over a rateable value of £5,000. They have to pay an annual 1.5% charge - based on their rateable value - towards the levy. Prior to this, officials behind the project stress there had been an extensive consultation process with a survey carried out in May 2016.
Newsletters were posted out to relevant businesses and the final business plan was sent out in February 2017 - before the vote in March.
Promotional articles also appeared in the local press and presentations were made to numerous organisations across the BID area.