The Elusive Bidders
In today’s Letter to the Editor, Scarborough North Bay resident ROGER PICKSTOCK comments on the clash of opinions between Councillor Bill Chatt and the Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Siddons, over the unconstitutional secrecy surrounding the proposed sale of the site of the former Indoor Swimming Pool to HQ Hotels. Mr Nick Thomas’s company has since withdrawn its offer – perhaps not terminally, as NYCC Councillor David Jeffels suggests (in an email reproduced at the foot of this Letter).
However, Councillors, having been allowed no say on the approval of the deal, were not informed of its collapse, learning of it only from social media and the North Yorks Enquirer. This is the brunt of Councillor Chatt’s displeasure – not the proposal itself, but the persistent secrecy of the Siddons administration.
The Chatt/Siddons ‘exchange of words’ is documented here:
Perhaps after 1st April 2023, the new North Yorkshire Council will invite tenders from all interested parties, including Mr Thomas.
Councillor Siddons assumed the Leadership of the Council on 7th May 2019. A reminder of his laudable inaugural commitments (to openness, transparency, improved communications and the full involvment of all members – of every political stripe – in the decision-making processes) seems appropriate here, so that readers may place ROGER PICKSTOCK’s Letter in its full context:
To the editor, North Yorks Enquirer.
It is with some interest that I read about the nefarious goings on with the bidding process (and I use the term loosely) employed by SBC and Mr Siddons, in particular, regarding the sale of land for the development of a hotel where the old swimming baths used to be in Northstead.
I am reminded that during the somewhat clouded process around the preservation/destruction of The Futurist, we also had an issue which centred around a preferred developer.
This seems to smack of the same or similar dubious ‘backhander dealing’ or ‘I’ve made my mind up and that’s the end of it’.
My admiration for the way in which Mr Chatt faced the issue full on and did not pull any punches when he challenged Mr Siddons’ behaviour and lack of respect for his councillors and electorate during this whole sorry issue, is a ray of sunshine bursting through the murk.
My admiration for Mr Siddons’ response, however, is less than favourable.
As ever, he actually evades the questions put forward, including what I can only describe as ‘bullet point’ rants, and deflects the blame onto another Councillor.
Despicable is not the word!
It is interesting to note that a total of 6 (or it may be more) expressions of interest were also tabled but never laid before Council and they were presented with a fait accomplit of one developer and one solution.
To cover this up goes against Council’s own procedures and policies (where have we come across this before?) and it actually poses one question; ‘What did he have to gain?’.
I know the answer, but I will leave it to the readers to make up their own minds.
Since the ‘preferred developer’ has now left the building, is it fair to assume that the other bidders will now be given the opportunity of putting their cases forward for consideration?
After all, that’s what happens in a democracy, isn’t it – or does Mr Siddons subscribe to the Putin model of government?
Email from County Councillor David Jeffels:
I am writing regarding the plan by a significant Scarborough businessman, Nick Thomas, to build a state-of-the-art luxury hotel on the site of the town’s former indoor swimming pool, close to Peasholm Park and the Northstead Manor gardens.
The plan for the development, estimated at £15m, has been approved by the Borough Council’s Future Places Scrutiny Committee, but Mr Thomas has now indicated he is pulling out of the project as a result of NYCC intending to oppose the deal on the grounds of best value and not granting Section 24 clearance.
Despite his indication I think there is still hope that he may have a change of heart if Section 24 clearance is given and I would urge that consideration be given to defer a decision on S24 to enable an independent assessment to be made embracing the sum involved in the purchase of the site, especially bearing in mind the terrain which I am advised by a local reputable builder will involve significant piling because it is on a cliff plateau and the new build of a 100 bedroom hotel will put considerable pressure on the site.
The Borough Council has for over 20 years, been attempting to attract major new investment into the North Bay area of Scarborough, with some success in terms of a leisure pool, and a new Premier Inn. Undoubtedly the regeneration of the Open Air Theatre (approx. seating capacity of 8,000) is playing a major part in helping to stimulate interest in the North Bay area with big name pop stars lining up to appear.
While the site could be used for housing I suggest its role should primarily be that of development to regenerate the tourist industry in Scarborough. While the resort is recognised as being one of the premier holiday areas in the country, it has an acute shortage of up-market hotel accommodation.
This proposed hotel development will help address that situation and, I suggest, could prove to be a catalyst for further developments to assist in Scarborough capitalising on the stay-cation holiday trend which has seen the town enjoy its best holiday season this year, for many years.
I believe there is a need to look at the bigger picture in terms of the site’s potential to the holiday industry and give a major boost to Scarborough’s aspirations to further enhance its reputation as a premier resort.
I hope the Executive will decide to pursue the issue further, as per my request.
The ‘Pool’ Saga so far . . .