Events aimed at attracting thousands of new visitors to the coast have been announced amidst fireworks, sparked by some businesses objecting to receiving bills to pay for their promotion.
Lincolnshire Coastal Destination Business Improvement District launched a major £3million strategy in October to bring growth and investment to an area stretching north of Donna Nook to south of Gibraltar Point and Wainfleet.
Businesses along the 22-mile coastal strip started receiving their bills two weeks ago based on a 1.5 per cent annual levy on commercial premises in the town centre with a rateable value of at least £5,000.
This will generate £3million over a five-year period.
Last week the BID team, headed by manager Lisa Collins, responded to a negative reaction by some businesses by revealing a list of attractions being planned to attract more visitors.
These 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 underway to highlight the offering of the natural and wild coast, to be followed later by a ‘fun coast’ video for the more traditional offering of seaside resorts.
However, some businesses claim they knew nothing of this when the bills arrived.
Steve Matthews, of Discount Plants on Drummond Road, said: “A lot of us didn’t have a vote and now we are expected to pay, but for what?
“The town is struggling - it’s on it’s knees. You only have to look at the number of shops closing.
“There’s no point attracting more people until they get the infrastructure sorted. The place was gridlocked this summer.
“I’m seriously thinking of packing up altogether.”
James Nelson, of Nelson’s Jewellers, is also fuming. He said: “I got a vote but voted no.
“I’m not happy about it. It seems to be a stealth tax - we’ve all paid business rates for a long time and this is money on top.
“Businesses with a rateable value under £5,000 won’t have to pay but will still benefit and that sticks in the craw.
“If so many people were in favour of it, why couldn’t they have formed a group on their own?”
In a statement from Stuart Hardy, chairman of the Lincolnshire Coastal BID Board, he outlined the reasons behind the BID.
He 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 for us all given the weather, so we must now work together to ensure the BID improves our trading environment.”
THE VOTING PROCESS EXPLAINED
1,126 tourism and retail businesses were eligible to vote. A postal ballot showed that of those 269 businesses that voted: 75.1% in number voted in favour and 81% by rateable value. As the majority of those who voted were in favour, the BID was voted in on March 31 and the levy became mandatory. Prior to this there had been an extensive consultation period, with a survey carried out in May 2016, newsletters posted out to all relevant businesses and the final business plan sent out in February 2017. Features appeared in the press and presentations were made to numerous organisations across the BID area.