Thursday 18th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Better or Worse?”

November 13, 2023 Letters

A Letter to the Editor from DAVID HANCOCK of Scarborough, questioning the promised advantages of moving to a unitary authority.


Dear Editor,

Those of us who, when details of the forthcoming abolition of SBC was announced positively rejoiced at the thought of what was considered by so many residents of the Borough of Scarborough (but predominantly within the town boundaries of both Scarborough and Whitby), found themselves tipsy with joy at the thought that something better than the inept (many would go as far to say corrupt) SBC Officers’ and Councillors’ reign of incompetence was about to end.

Oh, how so very wrong we all were!

The cracks of clear incompetence (the inability to grasp the seriousness of the task of managing services for the people of North Yorkshire) are proliferating throughout the walls of County Hall. Comparisons between NYC and SBC are inevitable, and not favourable, or encouraging.

What made SBC different was that, even within the Town Hall, both Councillors and Officers were acutely aware of what they had and some even understood its value – the sea,  the harbour and the maritime heritage – which could be seen, smelled and heard, along with the ever-present the seagulls.

There is none of that sense of place in far-removed County Hall, Northallerton – the only aroma wafting through its corridors is that of farms and farming.

Even Scarborough Borough Council, for all its faults (and there were many), was more open and more transparent about the undertakings of managing the Towns under their clearly incompetent control. We at least had an overview of what was happening within the Council chamber, with televised Council Meetings. We also had at least an inkling of what was being spent, by whom and on what.

None of that now, of course. We could see who those Councillors – who opposed and who supported policy-making and the important decisions being made daily and how they affected our daily lives.

None of that now. We obviously don’t deserve it!

Many Councillors must feel they are now disenfranchised, to say the least, not even being considered to have a voice as being representative of their constituents’ viewpoints.

Councillor Janet Jefferson [Independent] who, it is thought by many of her voting constituents, could have prevented the chaos that has enveloped her beloved Castle Ward in the Town Deal Madness, has, through her abject failure to stand up for her constituents (when she supported the then-SBC Council Leader Steven Siddons – the architect of the Town Deal Madness), abandoned her fellow Bottom Enders.

For many of us, this newly-devolved authority is a large step backwards and possibly a step too far.

It’s clear now to many of us who live in Scarborough, and many who live in what is described as the “Old Town”, that things are out of control in the corridors of power, the corridors of County Hall, and also within the lightly-staffed former Town Hall in Scarborough, where dissent runs high and morale runs at an all-time low.

The phrase “short-changed” describes perfectly how so many people feel about the creation of the new authority. What we expected what was what we were promised and and richly deserved. What has been delivered has been far short of expectation.  I have heard, from someone in the Old Town, this analogy of the CEO of NYC (which describes the CEO Mr Richard Flinton thus):

If he (Richard Flinton) was appointed CEO of Amazon, in charge of deliveries, all the parcels would be not what was ordered and would be delivered to the wrong address and the wrong customer.

Meanwhile, Councill Leader Carl Les, who appears  incapable of delivering anything that resembles accountability, transparency and openness, appears to be a deaf mute in his role as Council Leader.

Resignations are rife within several departments – most notably within the the Harbour Department, where the most senior Officer with any maritime experience is the Harbour Master, who  has already resigned. Also gone is the Ports Manager, having given 24 years of dedicated service. No mention anywhere in the media about either of these losses in leadership and the consequent impact on services going forward.

Obviously, none of this bodes well for any resolution of the issues facing both harbours (Scarborough & Whitby), which are now facing legal challenges at NYC. Challenges that NYC, at all levels up to the Head of Paid Service and the Leader of the Council, still has its head buried firmly buried in the sand about, and will remain so until the UK Government issues a Section 114 Notice, like so many other wayward Local Government Authorities, and quite probably sooner than expected.

C’mon, Carl Les/Richard Flinton! Get your fingers out! Otherwise, you would both do well to audition for the lead roles in the excellent West End version of the Rock Opera “Tommy” –  where Deaf, Dumb and Blind Kids are in much demand!

Your most sincerely,

David Hancock


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