Traders pledge to call on government for re-vote over Great Yarmouth tourism ‘tax’
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Tempers flared as angry business owners called for a re-vote over a controversial tourism 'tax' which they claim is unfair.
Scores of businessmen and women from across the Great Yarmouth borough gathered yesterday to rally against the levy, which they say they never had a chance to vote on, having never received the paperwork.
They put questions to David Marsh, chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area (GYTBIA), which has introduced the charge.
The Business Improvement District (BID) levy is based on rateable value and bosses say the money raised will benefit all businesses by increasing local employment and local spend.
It will also contribute towards advertising the borough as a tourism hot spot and support local events. Those who do not pay it have been told they will face prosecution in court.
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Mr Marsh said a single database had been used to send out letters and ballot forms and he had documents showing paperwork had been sent out.
He also stressed many businesses were in favour of the BID and added: 'There's a tremendous amount that are supporting this, well over 300 businesses have already paid, they understand Yarmouth needs a bit of a push at the moment.'
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But business owners hit back saying there was something 'wrong' with the system used, as they said they had not received any of the five letters that preceded the bill, which landed on doormats last month.
One trader said one of the letters was sent to his business address but the bill for the levy was sent to his home address.
Among those to speak out was Richard Coller, managing director of Yarmouth car dealership Pertwee and Back, who said BID bosses needed to 'go back to square one'.
He said: 'Are you really intent on criminalising people like me? I'm contributing enormous sums of money [through rates], I have never had a criminal record, I have never broken the law and I cannot believe that our borough council and people that do try to run this town have done this behind our backs.'
Throughout the meeting there were numerous calls for a re-vote and when Mr Marsh said one could not go ahead, business owners pledged to appeal themselves to secretary of state Eric Pickles for a second ballot.