Thursday 09th December 2021,
North Yorks Enquirer

CWTRA Meeting: ARGOS

CWTRA Meeting: ARGOS

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, sharing news and commentary of the forthcoming (and long-awaited) meeting of the Castle Ward Tenants’ & Residents’ Association – where residents can expect to come under the full vigour of Marc COLE’s ‘hard sell’ of the ARGOS ‘regeneration’.

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On Tuesday 23rd November 2021, at 6:30pm at the Library on Vernon Road in Scarborough, there will be a meeting certain to attract a capacity crowd. The meeting will be ‘live’ on Zoom – for bona fide Castle Ward residents, credentials vetted (I would imagine) by Chair Janet JEFFERSON, County and Borough elected member for the Castle Division/Ward.

Item 2 on the Agenda is what primarily concerns us here:

The Agenda repeats the misleading statement that CU will have a 21-year lease – but conveniently omits reference to the break clause at year 10. In reality, that makes it only a 10-year lease.

A pertinent question would be:

If the developer is now happy to ‘absorb’ the dramatic 30% rise in the cost of materials, transport and labour and still deliver that “minimum 0.5% to the Council”, what profit percentage was anticipated when the deal was struck – and how did that ever represent “value for money” to ratepayers?

Mr Marc COLE (readers may recall) is a peripatetic trouble-shooter, a sort of 007 of the local authority Planning ‘community’, who is deployed, with license to kill off opposition when the going gets tough,and tasked with relieving public pressure and hustling the most fiercely-resisted Planning follies over the line.

The irony is that the finest feather in Mr COLE’s hat was (wait for it) his work on Bradford’s magnificent, multi-award-winning City Park – a town centre public space which Scarborough has waited two decades to emulate, and is now baulked by the introduction of SIDDONS’ FOLLY – a five-storey barrack-block designed to add unnecessary pressure to the catastrophic Castle Ward parking crisis.

A second irony is that Item 4 on Chair JEFFERSON’s Agenda pretends to address that same residents’ parking crisis in order “to better protect the needs of residents within Castle division”:

To spell it out: the parking crisis in Castle Ward resulting from the provision of only 630 on-street parking slots will supposedly be ‘relieved’ by the influx of 210 new ‘residents (CU students and NHS doctors/nurses) and their visitors, for whom no parking facilities are to be made available. Tell that to the Marines!

So Councillor JEFFERSON now finds herself caught between two stools:

  • as Leader of the SBC Independent Group, nominal ‘allies’ (though many would say “lackeys”) of Councillor Steve SIDDONS’ Labour-led administration, Councillor JEFFERSON must support this ludicrous ARGOS ‘regeneration’ – or the administration falls and the three Indpendent Group Cabinet Portfolio Holders each lose out on £4,320.24 p.a. Allowances;
  • as elected member for Castle Ward, Councillor JEFFERSON must support residents’ parking concerns – or risk rendering herself unelectable (just as SIDDONS’ disastrous attempt at Leadership has rendered Labour candidates unelectable next May, when some are counting on seats on the new Unitary authority, where Basic Allowances are expected to be in the order of £15K-£18K per annum).

Councillor SIDDONS and Mr COLE have added to Councillor JEFFERSON’s dilemma by publicly and crassly describing the ARGOS ‘regeneration’ in her Ward/Division as being in “the most unloved part of town”.

Unloved by them, perhaps. Residents take pride in their community, and rightly so. It is the heart and the root of the town.

In the spirit of Mr James CORRIGAN’s gift to the Council (a book – an accountants’ bible – on how to ‘fudge’ the figures), I hear Castle Ward residents are proposing a gift for Mssrs SIDDONS and COLE – that famous best-seller by Dale CARNEGIE:

Pearls before swine, indeed.

Quite how the Council hopes to achieve credibility is a question no-one can answer. Especially when their flawed reasoning stands in direct conflict with the well-argued professional opinions of so many recognised authorities, some outspoken enough to go on the record describing the proposal as a future “slum”:

  • SIX former SBC Planning experts (with a combined experience exceeding a century);
  • our serving MP, the Rt.Hon. Robert GOODWILL (Scarborough & Whitby);
  • former MP, Mr Colin CHALLEN (Castle Ward resident);
  • former Mayor and Council Leader Mr Tom FOX (Castle Ward resident);
  • former Lifeboat Cox Mr Tom CLARK (RNLI Scarborough);
  • the Scarborough Hospitality Association, et al;

Conveniently (for SIDDONS), the Council’s Planning Portal has been inaccessible over the weekend (allegedly ‘scheduled maintenance’), but normally one can view huge list of Objectors, many of them resident in Castle Ward, who have had their say on this absurd proposal.

The voice of renowned eloquence which is bound to resonate far beyond the boundaries of Castle Ward is that of the town’s most celebrated man of letters, Sir Alan AYCKBOURN, who, with his Lady wife, has written to the Council in the following terms:

All of the above, without exception, favour the proposal which the SIDDONS crew has dismissed as being impossible – a magnificent Town Square, promised nearly twenty years ago and now within our grasp – notwithstanding ‘Deputy’ Leader Councillor Liz COLLING [Lab.] assertion that there is no money available for it, since it would bring in no revenue to repay a loan (a loan perhaps less than a quarter of the size of of the Public Works Loans Boards loan of £22million intended to finance the ARGOS proposal).

Do “slums” generate revenue, Councillor COLLING? I would be grateful to learn how that could be possible . . . legitimately.

Or do “slums” generate drug and alcohol dependency, homelessness, petty theft, domestic violence and suicide?

Do you acknowledge, at least, that real regeneration creates a thriving economy, attracts businesses (and customers) and promotes a general ‘feel good factor’?

Would you prefer to visit the Market Hall (or Boyes’ department store) in the shadow of a barrack-block – or here?

And you, Mr COLE – hand on heart (not on your salary or superannuation) – if you were a resident of Scarborough, which would you prefer? A Town Square or a future “slum”? But, of course, you are not a resident of Scarborough and, as is so often the case amongst peripatetic Council Officers, you will attempt to bulldoze elected members into a decision the consequences of which will never blight your own doorstep.

Are you, too, retiring to Tuscany? (Asking for a friend).

Many residents of Castle Ward have commented on the FaceBook Page and related website set up in the name ‘Newborough Regeneration’, with varying degrees of hostility to this shameless misnomer. Many of the most vociferous comments have been removed. Transparency? Those remaining stand in testimomy to the abhorrence this entirely inappropriate proposal has generated.

Quite how one should characterise such a costly campaign (who is paying the reputed £300K for all this drivel?) masquerading as a ‘Public Consultation’, defeats me.

A ‘mis-selling’? A ‘con’? A ‘last chance saloon’ persiflage of ‘pseudo-democratic hype’? For once, words fail me. If only we could shovel it up and bury it under the rhubarb and the roses.

It is all too easy to imagine that this CWTRA meeting will go the same way as the Public Meeting organised by Mr CORRIGAN, also at the Library (a venue for which it is reported that Mr James CORRIGAN paid close to £1,000).

Same venue, same residents, same unwanted proposal, same outcome:

Two non-binding votes (by show of hands) were recorded and carried virtually unanimously;

  • NO CONFIDENCE in the Council’s proposal generally;
  • NO CONFIDENCE in the Castle Ward Councillors.

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