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Yarmouth's businesses poised for vote over town's 'tourism tax'

PUBLISHED: 15:31 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:31 06 February 2019

The Red Arrows at the Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Red Arrows at the Haven Great Yarmouth Air Show 2018. Picture: Nick Butcher

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Backers of Great Yarmouth’s so-called tourism tax are poised to persuade levy payers to continue digging deep ahead of a crucial vote to see it start a second term.

Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement area chairman David Marsh with a copy of the new 2015 Greater Yarmouth brochure.

Picture: James BassGreater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement area chairman David Marsh with a copy of the new 2015 Greater Yarmouth brochure. Picture: James Bass

In the next few weeks businesses deemed to have a stake in tourism will be invited to a series of workshops aimed at promoting the successes of the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area (GYTABIA).

However, some local businesses have already voiced concerns over the BID’s performance since it was launched in 2014.

A landmark vote in May of that year saw BID status secured, with 85pc apparently voting to create England’s third BID resort following Southport and Bournemouth.

However when bills started landing on doormats later that year some traders said they knew nothing about it and were angry at having to pay, many calling for a re-vote and saying they never got the chance to have their say.

Alan Carr, BID chief executive, said the aim of the workshops was to remind people of “all the great things” the BID had done and to gain feedback via a questionnaire.

Fireworks have been staged in Yarmouth thanks to GYTABIA Picture: suppliedFireworks have been staged in Yarmouth thanks to GYTABIA Picture: supplied

The date of the vote has yet to be set, but is likely to be in the summer.

Initiatives supported by the money raised include the Maritime Festival, the Wheels Festival, Filby in Bloom, Martham Scarecrow Festival, summer fireworks, hanging baskets, and seafront lighting, as well as marketing and TV adverts.

In Gorleston it supported the Clifftop Festival and Christmas switch-on.

However leaked BID accounts show the Great Yarmouth Air Show made a loss of £582,000 and that income from park and ride systems was £100,000 down on what was predicted.

The papers said that next year’s overall budget for the tourism body would have a £60,000 shortfall.

Maritime Festival in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria PertusaMaritime Festival in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Businessman Phil Thompson, a vocal opponent of the levy, said he would be gunning for a ‘No’ vote.

He said: “The reason we are against it is because everything they spent the money on is stuff the council was initially doing, so they have used it to subsidise the council. These are not extras.

“They lost half a million on the air show so I do not think money is safe in their hands whatever happens.

“If that was all for new stuff it would be different.”

Caister hairdresser Daren Payne of Headmasters said the first he knew of the charge was when he got a bill.

“I do not get anything from it, he said.

“Although the argument is that I deal with people that work in tourism, directly I get nothing at all.”

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