Thursday 23rd November 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Down at the Bottom of the Heap”

A Letter to the Editor from SBC Councillor Rob BARNETT [Lab.], commenting on the Social Marketing Foundation’s verdict on the Borough of Scarborough insofar as it reflects the ‘rose-tinted’ Leadership of Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.].

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Dear Editor,

“Scarborough: The Low Pay Capital of Britain” (National Press, 8.9.17)

 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/07/scarborough-shrugs-off-label-of-uk-low-pay-capital-ons

What a disgrace! As an SBC Councillor, it comes as no surprise to me. In my local Whitby ward, I am constantly dealing with housing problems, mental health problems, schooling problems, employment problems – I could go on.

The Social Market Foundation finds that average pay in the Borough is £9,000 below the national average. This is demoralising and inhuman. To quote Steve Malloy, a delivery driver on £6 an hour, “Scarborough is shit!” Who would disagree? Well, maybe the Council Leader and the administration! Cllr Bastiman is reported as saying indignantly;

“Why would I want to live anywhere else….I live in the best place in the world”

Agreed, but try paying the rent, the bills, getting a doctor, finding a bus. Try doing that on £5-£6 an hour! To add insult to injury, our MP Robert Goodwill proudly predicts that the arrival of the Potash mine will have a trickle-down effect;

“the sort of money that people who will be working in the mining sector, not just their own salaries but also the trickle-down – they are going to be buying new cars from local dealerships, going to the best restaurants and buying new kitchens.”

Welcome to the deluded world of SBC and Robert Goodwill!

All this misses the point. Sustained and meaningful regional development depends on creating both infrastructure and connectivity, roads, rail buses, schools, hospitals, housing. These are the day-to-day fabric of everyday life. Given the sorry state of these public services in our area, it is hardly surprising that industry and commerce stay away and that our working population try to look elsewhere.

It is incumbent on the Councils and their Leaders to address the basic infrastructure problems. One-off projects and vanity schemes (Open Air Theatre, Waterpark, etc) are never going to address our issues. The people of Whitby certainly know that, they experience the consequences on a daily basis – hence votes of ‘no confidence’ in our decision makers.

I would also hope that when the Leader makes comments about everything in the garden being rosy, people do not assume he speaks for me as a Whitby Councillor.

Finally, I go back to the original sentiment in the national papers – Scarborough is now known as “The Low Pay Capital of Britain”! I ask your readers what sort of incentive is this for anyone to stick around or move in to provide that vital dynamism for our local economy. It is time that our voice was heard loud and clear.

Yours,

Cllr Rob Barnett (Streonshalh Ward)

Rob BARNETT, Whitby. 14th September, 2017.

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