The coming tsunami and financial crisis in Torbay. Zero funding for ERTC, The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.
In 2005 Torbay Council introduced a 10 year tourism strategy. Figures in first 5 years showed a dramatic decline.
Value of the Tourism was £581million in 2005, over 5 years the value declined to £504million leaving the gap of £77 million. As a rescue program 300 Private Local Businesses joined Torbay Council in a program called ERTC in 2010. This has a positive impact in tourism and the value of tourism started to grow.
The English Riviera Tourism Company – a joint partnership with Council and Private Businesses was set up to put Torbay back on English tourism map. Under its direction by 2013 the tide was successfully turned. By 2013 the figures had risen again to £585m. An incredible £81m in that year alone.
This successful journey for Torbay is now at risk as Mayor Oliver has cut the funding for the ERTC to 0 – at present partial cut with no international marketing however full cut by April 2016.
With 12,517 jobs linked to tourism in Torbay how many would be at risk and what can be done to stop this potential disaster? Loosing 20% of the value of Tourism will reflect on many local businesses and will force them to put many of their staff out of work, which means that Torbay may face 2,000 – 2,500 job cuts instead of growing them.
It beggars belief that he can do such a thing putting at risk thousands of jobs in Torquay, Brixham and Paignton and damaging hundreds of businesses. It is ironic that in his last election he pledged to support the growth of tourism and its marketing and yet now is slashing that. Indeed in his new advertising leaflet there is no direct support for tourism!
If we continue funding the ERTC or similar partnership, this rise of the value should continue. The worrying bit is why someone is trying to STOP this clearly successful, working money engine and maybe replace it with something not tested, unknown with very blurry background? Why would someone want to kill golden goose? The figures are dramatic with the wrong turn and may cost Torbay hundreds of millions.
Over the last 4 years Council funded ERTC by approximately £500k a year, which may be very lucrative for some individuals wanting them to redirect this fund onto unknown partnership.
Many of you may be aware of a potential alternative to take over and indeed improve on the ERTC -the Torbay Retail and Tourism Business Improvement District.
It is essential that this new organisation gives a ‘Yes’ vote however I believe there is some reticence with in the retail sector and indeed even simple lack of knowledge about such a scheme.
Please note that in 2013 some £47m was linked to retail sector in Torquay through direct or indirect spend by tourism, representing nearly 15% of all money coming in from tourism and so Retail is greatly reliant here on the tourist.
I would propose that council supports this new organisation through £250,000 from base budget (0.25% of net income) which can be utilised to cover the operational costs. Thus all levy paid by businesses would go towards their business plan rather than salaries.
I am the only mayoral candidate who has pledged this. However I believe that council needs to support business-it is essential that businesses grow. Indeed the new formula for council income links part of its income to business growth and therefore if YOU grow the council receives more income and that means less cut to come.
I would also propose match funding £263,000 from the coastal and communities fund grant that has been received in order to support Bay wide spectacular events that can form part of the business plan though I am aware that our current mayor may already be earmarking such money for other events. Indeed I believe through reputable sources that two such events are linked to the RICC and his partner who runs the THA.
I am not saying these events may be good however I am saying that this should stop should I be made Mayor and proper tendering for this £263,000 be made for best value to Torbay.
On May 7 you have a stark choice. I am standing as an independent candidate not tied by political colours and also with a business acumen within finance and tourism to ensure best value for all.