Dartmouth Business News - Analysis of the BID Ballot result

The result of the BID Ballot has been published and the BID is closing after a conclusive vote for closure by 168 members of the BID. By a strange coincidence a similar number to those who voted for it in 2013.

The Bid Team

Clearly for the Town of Dartmouth, and for the team of people who have given so much of their time and skills to delivering this opportunity this is a major blow. For the town it means the loss of a big investment in its future. The top seven levy payers including Sainsburys, Lidl, Dart Marina and the Castle Hotel were contributing £24,500.00 per year to this investment, which is £122,500 over the 5 years of the BID.

My own calculations, based on a copy of the levy tables, show that a total of 270 second home owners who do not live in Dartmouth, and are registered as accommodation providers for rating purposes, will not now be making any contribution to the economic welfare of the town (163 from Norton Park and 107 others ). This alone equates to £40,500 a year (based on £150 levy) which is £202,500 over the 5 years of the BID. Properly spent that kind of investment can make a real difference.

Perhaps more concerning is the lack of interest in this project shown by Dartmouth’s Business owners as reflected, in the turnout of only 27%. A very low figure considering the importance of this vote. In fact if we play with statistics in the same way that the opponents of the BID have done so often, we can argue that only 25% of levy payers voted for the closure of the BID Company. That’s 168 out of 665 who voted for closure! Not so convincing. But this is just playing with numbers.

This removes any option the TIC may have had for a guaranteed source of BID funding to help their survival plans. We were interested to read the headline that Visit South Devon has rescued the TIC! Our only question is who is goping to rescue Visit South Devon? We sincerely hope this decision does not come back to haunt the TIC.

Dartmouth Business News will be issuing a Freedom of Information request to find out how many of the members who voted actually live in Dartmouth. Especially as the BID Board bent over backwards to give second home owners the chance to enter the ballot and veto the BID.

By far the saddest aspect of this whole project has been the attitude of the protesters. their main argument has been “if it doesn’t help me then I am not interested”. The exact opposite of the selfless dedication of the team that worked together with me to create this opportunity for the town irrespective of the impact on their own businesses, which often suffered through lack of management time.

At the BID EGM last Tuesday someone, who I don’t know, came up to me after the meeting was over and shouted in my face ” do you realise what a monster you created” to which I replied ” what we created for the Town was a great opportunity, but unfortunately the town turned it into a monster”.

I feel proud of what we achieved as a BID team working together. It was the same core crowd of people who you always find dedicating their time for free to help this town prosper. I suspect they may think again before giving their time so freely when their efforts are treated with such disdain. We created a very good business plan, based on a thorough consultation, thanks to the expert help we received from The Mosaic Partnership. Mosaic have just created their 77th successful BID town in Straban. 98% of their successful BID’s go on to achieve real improvements in the prosperity of their town.

I am disappointed that Dartmouth will not now go on to benefit from this investment, but quietly relieved that I will not have to face the personal attacks that come with the job. Dartmouth Business News will continue to provide vital information to the town in the hope that you will find value in it.

Don’t worry you wont have to pay for it!!!

16 Comments on Dartmouth Business News - Analysis of the BID Ballot result

    • Sad to see the opportunity missed, however business leaders must act now to put other measures in to safeguard the business heart of this community, with the greatest respect please do not move forward on the basis that Dartmouth will ever become a thriving market trading town and base it on what it has become a day visitor town act on that to promote Dartmouth all year round or we will simply become Salcombe 2..closed six months of the year, we have a great deal of business professionals in this community to swing things round and make Dartmouth good again not just for today, and tomorrow but for future generations.

    • Many thanks David your comments are appreciated. Sadly the team failed to deliver on the promises we made so the result was inevitable. The Board lost belief in the process very early and the first election was flawed leaving them under resourced. My mistake was resigning when they moved in the wrong direction.

  1. As one of the second home owners mentioned I would like to express an outsiders view.
    We love Dartmouth and have visited for over 40 years. Our property is avilable for visitors to the town 52 weeks a year. Everything we purchase is sourced locally even down to using the fuel from the BP garage as we understand that is owned by a resident. We contribute to local ’causes’ and have happily paid the £150 even though the benefit to us, financially, is minimal.
    We did not vote for one major reason. Our sources of information as ‘outsiders’ are the updates we receive and the digital edition of the Dartmouth Chronicle. From these sources trying to understand the ‘issues’ is rather like trying to sort out a bunch of children arguing in the playground! It’s petty, destructive and almost totally negative. Unfortunately it seems to follow a pattern we have seen over other issues in the past.
    It gives us no pleasure to write this but you need to be aware of how the ‘administration’ of the town and initiatives such as this are seen from the outside. We will continue to support the town both financially and through the skills and experience of my wife’s working career should it be useful BUT the culture and decision making of the town needs to change.

    • Peter
      Your comments are appreciated and I accept that from outside it may look like a childish spat. I try to understand it myself but can only surmise that residents love of this Dartmouth gem raises passions that other towns don’t engender. I’m trying to find a positive reason for it but probably failing.

  2. There were just 10 businesses that supported the BID’s continuation. It’s a hard stretch of the imagination that dozens or even hundreds were not aware of the vote. This fact alone might suggest there is no appetite for the BID or, at the least, it has failed to engage with its electorate.

  3. Clearly the overwhelming majority of members who voted, agreed to the proposal the board put forward to close the BID down and those of us who supported it have to move on. Shockingly, the board had no alternative plans to take the BID forward in the event of the vote going the other way, as Peter Conisbee made clear at the EGM. That suggests to me that they had no ambition for it to succeed. The aims of the business plan that most businesses who voted supported have not been delivered, that is evident by the amount of people who still say ‘why isn’t the BID trying to attract more people here in the winter’ and ‘we need a BID that will attract a wider range of businesses so we are not too reliant on tourism’ Both of those are things that the business plan aimed to deliver! The board have made some poor decisions, usually behind closed doors and communicated their plans very badly indeed. I appreciate that they were small in number and reliant on volunteers, but frankly nobody forced them to stand. Our business offered on several occasions to get involved as Associate Directors and we were never taken up on the offer. They’ve focused too much on the vocal opponents of the BID and not enough on those of us who live and work in the town who wanted it to succeed. The output of the ‘dartmoutheverytime’ social media channels was embarrassingly awful and not managed effectively at all. With all those things in mind, I’m not surprised that only a small number of BID members voted for the BID to continue and even less surprised that most levy payers didn’t bother to become members and vote at all.
    A huge opportunity has been lost to help the town grow and prosper. I only hope the business owners cheering at the demise of a plan which would have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds invested over the next 3 years, don’t look back and regret their decision. I also hope that people who might be thinking of starting a business in Dartmouth and creating jobs here, are not put off by what has happened.

  4. The town needs destination marketing or it will decline. How odd that Dartmouth kills its BID while Torbay that is now growing after years of decline is putting together a robust tourism BID. The comments of the other second home owner who sees petty arguing and parochial battles for control are also our observation.

    But - there is hope ! https://www.visitbritain.org/discover-england-fund This is a £40m fund for places like Dartmouth to seek investment - a coherent conversation that comes up with innovate ideas to consider for this can succeed. As long as the parochial selfish element of the town is kept away. Ideas for the potential submission could be discussed here ?

    We would like to see a coordinated energy from constructive people win over from the selfish destructive element of the town ….. Ideas ?

    The deadline is end of May …. Challenge on !?

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