09 Oct Pub landlord summonsed to court for refusing to pay Great Yarmouth tourism BID levy
The borough council has started to bring prosecutions against people refusing to pay a controversial new tourism tax.
Around 1,200 businesses are legally obliged to pay into the Greater Yarmouth tourism BID (business improvement district), but the ballot which last year approved the levy had one of the lowest turnouts on record.
More than 250 traders insisted they were never sent information about the BID or ballot forms, and that the results of the vote were never published in accordance with regulations.
Phil Taylor, landlord of the Tramways pub in Gorleston, is among those refusing to pay, and this week he discovered he was being dragged to court over non-payment.
A court summons demanded that he appear before Great Yarmouth Magistrates later this month as he was subject to pay the BID levy but had not paid the required sum of £225.
He must also pay £65 to cover the cost of the summons, the court papers added.
Mr Taylor said he intended to fight the case, arguing that he was not told of the ballot and that the levy would not benefit his pub.
“The Tramways makes very little profit and I will bring bank statements and accounts to court to prove this,” he said. “All the levy will do for me is close the Tramways with the loss of jobs and creating an eyesore in the town,”
He has called for the borough council to produce evidence of his right to vote letter, and proof of how the levy would help the Tramways.
He claimed that events such as the Gorleston Clifftop Festival and the Christmas lights switch-on in the High Street served to empty his pub. and he could not see the benefit to trade.
A total of nine pubs in Gorleston have closed in the last nine years.
The BID levy aims to raise around £500,000 per year to boost the tourist economy and create jobs, by funding better events and attracting more people to Greater Yarmouth.
In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “In the run up to the ballot in May/June 2014, the BID task group, which is a separate organisation to the borough council, sent various pieces of literature to levy payers to make them aware and give them the chance to help shape the BID.
“This was widely publicised in the media at the time.
“After the ‘yes’ vote, the BID levy became legally binding.
“The borough council is legally responsible for billing and collecting the levy on behalf of the BID company.
“Since November 2014, levy payers have all been sent one invoice for the first year’s levy, one reminder and at least one final notice.
“Court summons are an absolute but necessary last resort to make sure that everyone who is required to pay does pay.”
The ballot last May which approved the borough-wide BID attracted just a 19pc turnout, one of the lowest on record in the country.
This article was provided by Great Yarmouth Mercury http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/