Tuesday 23rd April 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Dredging the WTC Harbour Committee

March 1, 2024 Whitby Town

Dredging the WTC Harbour Committee

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, examining another telling example of sheer futility: Whitby Town Council’s utterly superfluous Harbour Committee.


It has taken the local and regional press approaching three years to catch up on my article entitled “The Rape of Whitby Harbour” (published in July 2021), which I would earnestly commend to readers’ most studious attention.

Readers of the Yorkshire Post may have since caught up with the following useful summary by Alex WOOD, published on 17th February 2024:

The bottom line is that next week, on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th March 2024, at the Royal Court of Justice, it is hoped (and anticipated) that His Honour Mr Justice SWEETING will rule that all revenues from Whitby Harbour and its associated adjacent ‘lands’ was indeed ring-fenced for the sole purposes of maintaining and developing Whitby Harbour, in accordance with the Whitby Urban District Council Act 1905.

The unfortunate reality is that for many years, Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) ‘siphoned off’ (to use the words of the lead barrister) these revenues (berthing, wharfage, rents and fees, etc – AND car-parking returns) directly into its General Fund, without which the Council’s s.151 Officer, Mr Nick EDWARDS, would have been unable to produce a statutorily compliant balanced Budget.

In simple language, “We wuz robbed!”.

Following my recent article entitled “WTC: Town Dev. & Imp. Committee” (published on 12th February 2024), in which I conclusively demonstrated the utter uselessness of Whitby Town Council’s Town Development & Improvement Committee (Dev.Imp), there could be no better time than right now to examine the contribution made by the WTC Harbour Committee to the eight-year long struggle headed by former Town Councillor Sue BOYCE to achieve justice over “The Rape of Whitby Harbour”.

Sue BOYCE is just one of a large number of people who, back in the day, joined (and subsequently abandoned) Whitby Town Council with the righteous intention of turning it into an effective representational democratic body. I could name more than a dozen who, like Sue, gave their best efforts to awakening and energising the Town Council – to no avail. They were thwarted by the same brand of vainglorious and incompetent self-seekers who prevail today.

Readers may wish to examine a document entitled Scarborough Borough Council Events Policy – Whitby Harbour Lands (linked here) with its appended maps and tariffs, which clearly show that SBC has treated Dock End (and other significant sites adjacent to the Harbour) as a ‘cash cow’ – yet today I have confirmation that NYC, no doubt fearing the consequences of next week’s Court hearing, is now attempting to distance itself from SBC’s Public Record documentation. This augurs well for next week’s hearing.

Whitby Town Council itself, and its Harbour Committee in particluar, is (of course) oblivious to this chicanery.

So what better time than right now to examine what contribution Whitby Town Council’s Harbour Committee has made throughout the current financial year (2023/24) to support Sue BOYCE and Fight4Whitby‘s valiant legal action to achieve justice over “The Rape of Whitby Harbour” as the Court case approaches the sharp end.

In the present financial year, the WTC Harbour Committee has met a total of three times. Below is the Public Record of its ‘considerations’:

WTC Harbour Committee Meeting Agendas 2023/24

16th May 2023 (Agenda archived here)

Draft (i.e. NOT Approved/Ratified) Minutes:

19th September 2023 (Agenda archived here)

Draft (i.e. NOT Approved/Ratified) Minutes:

23rd January 2024 (Agenda archived here):

CANCELLED: Inquorate (i.e. insufficient members bothered to attend)

13th February 2024 [Reconvened from 23/01/24 cancelled meeting) (Agenda archived here):

Here we go again – ‘considering’. Was anything accomplished by this return to ‘consideration’? We cannot know, since neither Draft nor Approved/Ratified Minutes have been published. Nor was the Harbour Master’s Report (referred to above) included in the Agenda Pack on the Council’s website.

Draft Minutes not published (see archived link and screenshot below):

To sum up, while Whitby Piers, Extensions and the Harbour more generally (the maintenance of which was formerly the statutory duty of SBC and is now that of North Yorkshire Council – NYC) remain in a state of perilous neglect, with over 500 homes and businesses exposed to clear and present jeopardy (the Environment Agency has deemed all of the land adjacent to the Harbour as a Zone 3 Flood Risk – the highest risk-rating), Whitby Town Council’s Harbour Committee has busied itself ‘considering’ children’s crab buckets at Kiddies Corner, the absurd proposal of a four-storey Maritime Training Hub (on a flood plain at Endeavour Wharf – over which it has no powers or influence whatsoever) and the location of life-belts. Bravo!

The expression “fiddling while Rome burns” could hardly find a more apt application.

More to the point is that WTC’s Harbour Committee has made no contribution whatsoever to saving Whitby Harbour and the imminent risk of flooding in the very heart of the town.

I hope that members of the public (and not just those who, like me, live, work or pursue their businesses in the immediate environs of Whitby Harbour) will join me in pledging a donation towards the frightening legal costs incurred by Sue BOYCE and her Fight4Whitby supporters, via the following URL-link:


The 25 pledges so far received represent a woefully inadequate response to a heroic attempt to rescue Whitby from oncoming disaster. Come on, Whitby! GET YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS!

In fact, get your hands in your pockets, Whitby Town Council!

And winning this landmark case will not only bring back millions of pounds into the Whitby Harbour Undertaking Account to finance desperately urgent repairs and reconstruction, it will also set an invaluable precedent for the Scarborough Objector to NYC’s Annual Accounts, who is seeking to return millions to the maintenance and development of Scarborough Harbour (where the same process of ‘siphoning off’ has been going on for decades), for the benefit of their fishing and tourism communities.

In simple language, “They wuz robbed, too!”.

In due course, I intend systematically to dismember (metaphorically speaking, of course) WTC’s Finance, Policy & General Purposes Committee (FP&GP), a small ‘taster’ of which follows here below. I refer readers to an article in the Scarborough News – in particular this little snippet:

Readers may be astonished to learn what the above snippet does not report; namely, that the supposedly inexplicable decline in public conveniences revenue (from £55K per annum down to £15K) is partly down to an unreported failure in a credit card payment system and partly to an undiscovered £17K increase in water rates due to a still unresolved leak to which the FP&GP remained blissfully oblivious until Councillor Chris RIDDOLLS demanded sight of the records!

It is fifteen years now since I first heard former Councillor Ian HAVELOCK (may he rest in peace) eloquently appealing to his fellow Whitby Town Councillors to scrap all of these fundamentally worthless and largely hidden Committees and return Whitby’s pressing concerns to the attention of Full Council in open and transparent public session.

So it is with a tiny spark of optimism that I can conclude today’s offering by reporting that Councillor Rob BARNETT, seconded by Councillor Chris RIDDOLLS (two of a handful of Councillors who recognise the inadequacy of the present arrangement of multiple redundant Committeees and sub-Committees under a Full Council that meets only bi-monthly) has proposed the following Motion for next Tuesday’s meeting. I urge community-minded citzens to attend and make their views known.


In  consideration of the Council’s need to take utmost advantage of the opportunities afforded by Devolved Powers, we should, in line with the majority of Town Councils in North Yorkshire, revert to the more usual and better practice of holding meetings of Full Council on a monthly basis.

This is a vital first step towards bringing the Town Council into the modern, post-LGR era.

As things stand, North Yorkshire Council would be right to defer any ‘double devolution’ to the present haphazard catastrophe that achieves nothing for Whitby. It would be tantamount to entrusting the crown jewels to a rag-and-bone man with a gambling addiction. Heaven forbid!

Comments are closed.