Hambleton District Council: Incompetents, Liars & Fools
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on irrefutable evidence that, like their counterparts at Scarborough Borough Council, the Leader of Hambleton District Council is a proven liar – no better than his lying and incompetent Monitoring Officer Gary NELSON.
Regular readers of the North Yorks Enquirer will need no reminding of our many reports providing irrefutable evidence that Scarborough Borough Council Leader Councillor Tom FOX is a liar. The fast-growing army of new readers will find all the hard evidence by typing the words “Liar Tom Fox” in the Search-box facility at the top right of this page.
Sadly, the same must be said of Scarborough Borough Council’s internally appointed and lamentably inexperienced Monitoring Officer Lisa DIXON. Again, readers will find all the evidence by typing the words “Liar Lisa Dixon” in the Search-box facility.
More recently, the disgraceful conduct of Councillors (and Clerk) at Exelby, Leeming & Newton Parish Council in the District of Hambleton has brought the spotlight of scrutiny to bear on the recently-appointed Hambleton District Council (HDC) Monitoring Officer Gary NELSON – and, as a direct consequence, attracted a huge readership to my coverage of the conduct of the Investigating Officer who has attempted to deflect my formal Corporate Complaint against NELSON – HDC Director of Environmental & Planning Services Michael ‘Tricky Micky’ JEWITT. Gary NELSON has lied to me, in writing, on four separate occasions. And ‘Tricky Micky’ JEWITT has made a pig’s ear of covering Gary NELSON’s tracks.
Standard procedure amongst Council Officers, when confronted with clearly articulated irrefutable evidence of wrong-doing, is to:
- close ranks,
- ignore correspondence,
- simulate incomprehension of the issues,
- conflate and confuse issues
- pass the issue to colleagues, etc, etc.
When all else fails, they:
- resort to threats of legal action,
- deem legitimate complainants “vexatious”,
- refer complainants to the Local Government Ombudsman (who has authored guidance on deflecting complaints)
- refer complainants to the last (unaffordable) resort of Judicial Review, etc, etc.
All of the foregoing (and other cheap tricks) can be summarised in a single phrase:
- EVASION OF ACCOUNTABILITY
And permeating this culture of unaccountability runs a profoundly disturbing ethos predicated on the absurd notion that paid public servants are above the law.
Perhaps they are.
Certainly, there would appear to be no remedy but ‘name and shame’ publication.
Which brings me to HDC Leader Councillor Mark ROBSON, pictured at the head of this article..
HDC documentation, available on the HDC web-site, demonstrates conclusively that Councillor Mark ROBSON, and he alone, bears the responsibility for jacking-up the already preposterous salaries of his Council’s Senior Officers.
In particular, readers may confirm for themselves that the current HDC Pay Policy, ratified by Council on 8th April 2014, explicitly states that:
- “The Chief Executive’s salary is negotiated with the Leader of the Council”
Yet, in response to an email from a member of the public, asking HDC Leader Councillor Mark ROBSON to confirm this and other aspects of this extraordinary arrangement, Councillor ROBSON foolishly responded by asserting that it is “not true”, and to publish the fact “would simply serve to mislead”.
In fact, any misleading is down to Councillor Mark ROBSON – unless, of course, he has not understood his own Council’s procedures.
The Chief Executive of Hambleton District Council Phil MORTON is one of three statutory officers. He is the Council’s Head of Paid Service. The others are the s.151 Officer Dave SIMPSON (Head of Resources) and Monitoring Officer Gary NELSON, whose dereliction of duty has been well documented here.
Chief Exec Phil MORTON has been in the news recently in regard to his salary increase of around 25%, brining him to £125,000 per annum – not including an equally insupportable pension top-up of around another £25K. This 25% rise follows hard on the heels of a 10% rise in 2013 – making the actual increase since April 2013 a whopping £35K – and this in straitened times that have seen every family in the country tighten belts and struggle by. His predecessor in the job, Peter SIMPSON, left under a very dark cloud in February 2012. Whereupon Phil MORTON (like Lisa DIXON over at Scarborough Borough Council) was internally promoted – to the dismay of some Councillors, who believe he lacked the experience and acumen to handle the job.
This £125K salary, though Leader Councillor Mark ROBSON has denied it in writing, was “negotiated” between MORTON and ROBSON, and only afterwards ratified by Council.
I was not present at the negotiation, but it is instructive to consider a tongue-in-cheek reconstruction that may well be the nearest we ever get to the whole truth. It goes something like this:
MR: Good morning, Phil. It’s that time of year again – time to fix your salary for the coming year, which, as you know, must be set through our one-on-one negotiation – subject, of course, to ratification by Council.
PM: Morning, Mark. Well, just to get the ball rolling, how’s about another £50K?
MR: Be serious, Phil. The electorate would blow a fuse if I went along with a 50% hike. What do you reckon to 10%? 12½%? No? Well, let’s say 15%. Top whack.
PM: Come on, Mark. You can do better than that. I’ll settle for 25% and no questions asked.
MR: Oh, fair enough, then, old chap. 25% it is. We can always crank it up again next year if we keep our noses clean and keep those bastards at the North Yorks Enquirer off our backs.
PM: That’s my man, Mark. But I really must be cutting along – I’m due on the first tee in ten minutes. Catch you later. My lads will handle the press.
This dialogue, of course, may never have taken place. It is just my feeble attempt at humour.
But I raise this issue because I have been attempting to urge HDC Leader Councillor Mark ROBSON to intervene in the matter of my formal Corporate Complaints against senior Officers who have been employing many of the tactics described above. I find nothing amusing in the practice of Officers investigating their own work colleagues. It invariably results in a club-ish culture of collusion and cover-up.
Those who would doubt that evaluation need only consider the culture of collusion and cover-up that resulted in the serial gang-rape of over 1,400 young girls in Rotherham, where former Council Children’s Services supremo Shaun WRIGHT – presently Police & Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire – continues to evade all attempts to hold him to account.
Of course, the nay-sayers will protest that no such cover-up could ever come to pass in North Yorkshire.
But that is to ignore the forty-plus years of cover-up at Scarborough Borough Council of the horrific predations or former Scarborough Councillor, Mayor and Alderman Peter JACONELLI and his partnership in paedophilia with Jimmy SAVILE – which would have remained forever hidden, were it not for the persistent exposure prosecuted by North Yorks Enquirer citizen-journalists. (Like the Canadian Mounties, we get our man). If you are unaware of all that, please review the BBC ‘Inside Out’ coverage of our efforts here. JACONELLI was finally outed and stripped of all civic honours in May of this year. I continue to assist the North Yorkshire Police via Operation Hibiscus, the unit set up to investigate the extent of the SAVILE/JACONELLI paedophile-ring.
But returning to Hambleton, what could be the dirty secret that HDC is so determinded to keep under wraps? Whatever it is, it is not something that we are likely to by-pass . . .
To his credit, Councillor Mark ROBSON has been providing read-receipts in response to my emails – but little else. One suspects that, like the majority of elected members, he lacks the acumen and/or the courage to tackle his Officers.
Perhaps he has never encountered Edmund BURKE’s profoundly wise epithet:
So the present state-of-play is predictably stagnant – no acknowledgement or response from HDC CEO Phil MORTON; no acknowledgement or response from Leader Councillor Mark ROBSON. Gary NELSON and ‘Tricky Micky’ JEWITT are, for the moment, out of the game.
The whole shabby crew appears to have abandoned the bridge of HDC’s ship of state.
Be it on their own curricula vitae.
But three out of seven members of Exelby, Leeming & Newton Parish Council have already heeded the wisdom of that other well-known epithet – and resigned . . .