Called off three years in a row - but will businesses attend this year’s budget meeting?
- Credit: James Bass
A meeting for business rate payers in a coastal town has been abandoned not one, not two, but three years in a row after no rate payers turned up.
The annual event, organised by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, is held every February in the Town Hall.
Normally attended by the council's leader, deputy leader and finance director, the meeting is advertised as a chance for businesses to ask questions about the proposed budget for the year.
However, since 2017, while members of the council did attend, each annual meeting had to be called off after no business rate payers showed up.
While the council has said it promotes the meeting through various channels, Jonathan Newman, town centre manager, has said he had not heard about it.
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"If I had some sort of notification of the meeting then I would have sent an email to business informing them they had the option of attending.
"It was not on my radar, but now it is, and I'll let my members know about it," he said.
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Nova Fairbank, head of policy at Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said she did not know about the meeting.
"If it is a case of, 'Here is the budget, here is where we are at', you could always look at putting that out digitally," she said.
"But if they want to debate with businesses about the budget, that is a different scenario and we'd be keen to be involved."
Each year, all councils are required to seek to consult with business rate payers on their proposed budget before their budget report is considered by full council.
Many councils organise a dedicated meeting for businesses, which enables businesses to attend and ask any questions of the finance director. Businesses choose whether they wish to attend and take up that opportunity.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday (February 10) in the Assembly Room and will be chaired by Carl Smith, the council leader.
Karen Sly, Director of Finance, will give a verbal report on the budget for the financial year of 2020-2021.
The borough council has said if there is no attendance this year, it will review options for future years.