Thursday 11th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Brand Yourself a Fool . . .”

July 5, 2024 Whitby Town

Brand Yourself a Fool . . .

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, exposing ignorance, stupidity and lies.


My maternal grandfather taught me many things. Not calculus, trigonometry or comparative anatomy, nor die Harmonielehre or amo, amas, amat; but simple pearls of wisdom that have served me well in life – such as this:

“Brand yourself a fool, young man. But never brand yourself a liar.”

It is a lesson well-learned, deserving of wider dissemination.

It is perhaps not well-known that some members of Whitby Town Council sit on the Whitby Town Deal Board (WTDB), and may therefore be considered to have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the projects championed by that largely unrepresentative (and, indeed, unelected) body.

One would like to think that, in the event that these members have since withdrawn their commitment, they would have the good grace and good conscience to distance themselves from the WTDB by the simply expedient of tendering their respective resignations, lest anyone should suspect that the Town Council had infiltrated the Town Deal Board. Alas, this has not come to pass.

So when the Planning Application for the proposed Maritime Training Hub (MTH) on Endeavour Wharf came before Whitby Town Council at the Full Council meeting of 14th May 2024, expectations were high that those Councillors engaged in the WTDB would openly and transparently declare a potential conflict of interests and disclose their “predetermination” in favour of the MTH proposal to which they were publicly committed. Really?

Councillor Jacqui LAYMAN, a relatively new recruit to the Council, is not amongst those who sit on the WDTB. However, seeking to represent the view widely-held throughout Whitby, Councillor LAYMAN had published an Open Letter to NYC Councillor Neil SWANNICK (who, being a ‘company man’ to the core, vigorously supports the proposed MTH proposal), in which she had expressed her then-belief that it is “the wrong building, in the wrong place”. Members of various purportedly representative Whitby bodies would do well to discount their personal views and endeavour to represent the views of the communities they are pledged to represent, but . . .

When the Planning Application came before Full Council on 14th May 2024, the Chair/Mayor Councillor Bob DALRYMPLE, asserted his ‘authority’ during the debate over the Planning Application, informing Councillor LAYMAN that, on account of her Open Letter, she was “predetermined” and thereby disbarred from voting on the matter:

  • “You can’t vote! You are predetermined.”

The following ‘stills’, excerpted from the Council’s Youtube Channel video of the meeting, enjoy the benefit of auto-subtitles:

Was this correct?

Actually, no.

In her representations, Councillor LAYMAN quite clearly stated: “I would like someone to convince me otherwise”. This is indicative of what is known as ‘an open mind’ – the very reverse of “predetermination”, which brooks no argument. In short, Councillor LAYMAN’s “predisposition” to oppose the Maritime Training Hub was by no means the conclusive opinion of her ‘closed mind’; rather, she remained open to persuasion:

Thus, though Councillor LAYMAN may admit a “predisposition” to oppose the MTH project, nevertheless, she was always open to persuasion to the contrary – should she encounter a sufficiently compelling argument in its favour. This in not at all the same as a “predetermination”.

Meanwhile (and I find this very telling), the outgoing Clerk/RFO refrained from stepping in to save the Chair/Mayor’s bacon. (Am I permitted to mention bacon?). Incidentally, the Human Resources Committee has already taken steps to recruit a replacement for the outgoing Clerk/RFO – at a significantly reduced salary. Nice work, if you are up to it:

But aren’t we splitting hairs here?

Actually, no.

Turning to the law for absolute clarity, the Localism Act 2011, “Prior indications of a view of a matter not to amount to predetermination etc“, states, at s.25(1)(a) & (1)(b):

NALC guidance explains this in language more easily accessible to the ordinary citizen. Certainly, a Council Chair/Mayor in his second term should be, and should have made it his business to be, completely au fait with the distinction between “predisposition” and “predetermination”. For the Chair/Mayor – the Councillor responsible for leading the debate – this was the most basic point and fundamental point to grasp:

In fact – and the irony will escape no-one – North Yorkshire Council had issued the Standards Bulletin of the Standard Committee and this was circulated to ALL Whitby Town Councillors – including the Chair/Mayor – by the outgoing Town Clerk/RFO, Mr Michael KING, on Friday 28th June 2024 – three days before the Full Council Meeting on 2nd July 2024.

It follows, then, that these crucial distinctions should have been very fresh in the Chair/Mayor’s mind and, for that matter, the Clerk/RFO’s.

Given the upcoming meeting, one might reasonably have expected the Chair/Mayor to read, digest and generally familiarise himself with the Guidance – and, if still unclear, consult the professional expertise of the Clerk/RFO – in order to be able to untangle his 14th May 2024 cock-up and apologise to Councillor LAYMAN, BEFORE Approving (and thereby setting in stone) the deeply flawed Minutes of the 14th May 2024 meeting – instead of compounding the complete ass he had made of himself.

The Guidance is so comprehensively explicit that it is hard to imagine what it was that the Chair/Mayor could not grasp:

Thus, Councillor LAYMAN’s statement “I would like someone to convince me otherwise” makes it abundantly clear that she was and remained (I quote) “willing to listen to all the considerations presented at the council meeting before deciding”. By these criteria, she was “predisposed” – but NOT “predetermined”.

This subtle but vital distinction either escapes the Mayor’s comprehension (plausible enough) or, to the cynic, may give grounds for suspicion that the Mayor simply wanted to ensure that Councillor LAYMAN had no opportunity to vote AGAINST the precious Maritime Training Hub – darling of the sycophant brigade who, by the way, know full well that the overwhelming majority of Whitby residents do not support the Maritime Hub proposal.

In the event, Deputy Mayor Councillor Jonathan HARSTON’s Motion (seconded by Councillor ABBOTT) to reject the Application fell away.

The ‘draft’ Minutes (below) are quite astonishing. It is important to note that, in Council Minutes, each individual Resolution must be attributed a unique Minute Number – in this case, Item 014/24, (indicating that this was the fourteenth Resolution adopted by Full Council in 2024).

Inexplicably, Item 014/24 includes what appears, at first glance, to be a second Resolution (though each Resolution, remember, must have its own unique number).

It follows, then, that Councillor MULHERAN’s ‘proposal’ (‘seconded’ by Councillor NOCK) can only have been a post facto Amendment (what?) to Councillor HARSTON’s Motion – not a new Motion in its own right (which would require a distinct and separate Item number – presumably 015/24 – but that number was attributed to the subsequent Agenda Item).

True, Standing Orders do permit a Motion from the floor “to note, receive or approve the recommendations of a report – but since when was a Planning Application a “report”? Indeed, there is no mention in the Agenda Item (see above) of any “recommendation of a report” – it requires members only to “consider a response to Planning Application ZF24/00491/RG3”. No report to be found.

One is reminded of Humpty Dumpty, who famously told Alice, “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”.

But perhaps the Chair/Mayor simply preferred to let Councillor MULHENAN’s offering stand?

In any case, the Council’s current Standing Orders strictly prohibit any possibility for an Amendment to NEGATE a substantive Motion, thus:

1. Rules Of Debate At Meetings

e An amendment is a proposal to remove or add words to a motion. It shall not negate the motion.

Nor do they permit a decision to be reversed for six months (unless a majority of Councillors convene an Extraordinary Meeting for that sole purpose).

But Councillor MULHERAN’s proposal directly negates Councillor HARSTON’s substantive Motion. Hmmm. Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . .

So, the story so far is that the Chair/Mayor, Councillor DALRYMPLE wrongly deemed Councillor LAYMAN to have been “predetermined” and therefore ineligible to vote – AND wrongly permitted what, in my view, can only be considered an Amendment proposed by Councillor MULHERAN, voted upon and carried AFTER the substantive Motion 014/24 –  attempting to negate it. This maladministration is indicative of failure of internal control and breaches of the Financial Regulations and Standing Orders – and therefore likely to be of interest to the External Auditor.

The Nitty-Gritty

Now consider this round of correspondence following Councillor LAYMAN’s request for an explanation of these extraordinary events:

Tha Mayor wrote:
Cllr Layman,
The vote on item 014/24 was not a recorded vote as defined in Standing orders. It was a simple show of hands..
Also I did not rule that you were predetermined or excluded from the vote. I informed you that because of articles you had written prior to this council meeting and available to see on the internet, expressing your dislike of the scheme, this could be viewed as predetermination and I advised you to think carefully before voting on the agenda item.
You then took the decision not to vote on this matter.
Cllr Bob Dalrymple
This provoked an entirely reasonable intervention by Councillor Steve SMITH:
Dear Bob 
That is not how I remember it, I believe you ruled that [s]he was not allowed to vote as she had a predetermined interest.


To which the Mayor compounded his untenable position by responding in his next email:

Well, its a good job that the meeting was recorded which I have just looked at.  My actual words were “because of your predetermination you would be wise to abstain on this vote”. No mention at all of telling Cllr Layman that she was not allowed to vote.

Excuse me? Councillor DALRYMPLE reviewed the video but all too conveniently overlooked his instruction, “You can’t vote! You are predetermined” – while aggressively pointing his finger? I mean, come on!

Readers are invited to join me in concluding that the Mayor’s statement to Councillor Steve SMITH:

“No mention at all of telling Cllr Layman that she was not allowed to vote.”

. . . is a bare-faced falsehood; “You can’t vote! You are predetermined” are the words that he said. Or perhaps he just forgot he had said them? Or he would not man-up, either to his error or to his lack of chairship acumen and ability?
Brand yourself a fool, Mr Mayor . . . by all means. But any honourable man – or any self-branded liar – would do the honourable thing and resign forthwith. However, there were furtive mutterings at the meeting of the Human Resources Committee on Tuesday 2nd July 2024, to the effect that it was disgraceful that ‘certain’ members had been ‘leaking’ information to a ‘certain’ member of the public (do you think they mean me?).
I might add that clarity over the Chair/Mayor’s honesty, integrity and competence is very much a matter of conspicuous public interest and most certainly not a legitimate subject for confidentiality or secrecy – or ‘leaks’.
Nevertheless, I am now given to understand that the Chair/Mayor, Councillor Bob DALRYMPLE, has since tendered his (somewhat grudging) apologies to Councillor LAYMAN, the Council in general, and to Councillor SMITH, though without conceding his error and continuing to insist that Councillor LAYMAN was “predetermined”.
So that’s alright, then, is it? I mug you in front of your peers with the wrong end of the stick, but I’ve said sorry! What more do you want?What about making amends? No contrition without restitution. Councillor HARSTON’s Motion to reject the MTH Planning Application must be re-heard, under fair voting conditions – i.e. to include Councillor LAYMAN, but to exclude the three conflicted WTDB members – and the Chair. That is my own two penn’orthOne pearl of wisdom that my maternal grandfather never, ever recommended to me was this:

“Keep lying until caught out – then apologise!”

My last word on the subject
Following the Parish Poll on 6th October 2023, when 75.5% of those who voted ‘YES’ to the Poll Question “Should  the present members of Whitby Town Council resign en masse to facilitate the democratic election, by ballot, of a fully mandated representative Town Council for Whitby?”, the Chair/Mayor misdirected Councillors, instructing them that it would be illegal (he meant ‘unlawful’) for the Council to instruct members to resign – which was NOT what the 75.5% demanded. (The individual Councillors were called upon to resign en masse – the Council itself had no part in the matter).
But on 2nd October 2023, ahead of the Poll, the Chair/Mayor had already announced his PREDETERMINED intentions to the world:

Now that is “predetermination”.

Perhaps this is why the townsfolk call him “Bob the Nob”?

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