Too Hot in the Kitchen, Councillor?
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, commenting on remarks made by the SBC Portfolio Holder for Public Health & Housing, Councillor Bill CHATT [Ind.], during the Cabinet Meeting of Tuesday 18th July 2017.
Before the live webcast of the SBC Cabinet Meeting of Tuesday 18th July 2017 was half complete, I received a number of phone calls and messages expressing maximal outrage at the astonishing performance of Councillor Bill CHATT [Ind.].
That outrage is fully understandable. Councillor CHATT’s remarks amounted to a vitriolic attack on critics, commentators and fellow Councillors whom CHATT lacked the courage to come out and name.
The Yorkshire Coast Radio news coverage barely scratched the surface of another priceless ‘own goal’ from the brains’ trust:
For convenience of reference, Councillor CHATT’s ‘speech’ can be loosely divided into the following sections:
00:00 to 00:30 – remarks relating to the No Confidence Motion (which Councillor CHATT describes as a “farce”) and describing the Proposer (Councillor CROSS) as “an empty tin that makes a lot of noise and didn’t do anything else”.
00:30 to 03:05 – remarks relating to social media, “a certain website” and “the truth”, with references to “keyboard warriors”, “trolls” and “chinless” (“and I do say chinless”) critics.
03:05 to 03:40 – remarks relating to “some Councillors” using social media to communicate information relating to a fire hazard at a block of flats in Whitby.
03:40 to 03:50 – further remarks relating to the “farce” (Councillor CHATT’s word) of the three No Confidence Motions and his indignation and anger at having been described on social media, along with Councillor John NOCK [Con.], as “paedophile supporters” – at which point Cabinet Chair and Council Leader Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] finally takes charge of his Meeting and belatedly draws a halt to Councillor CHATT’s hypocritical tirade.
One cannot rule out the possibility (likelihood?) that Councillor CHATT’s tirade may not have been as spontaneous as first appears; Councillor BASTIMAN’s intervention – the moment that Councillor CHATT mentions “paedophile supporters” – seems almost to have been in response to that ‘cue’.
So let us not rule the possibility, at least, that Councillor CHATT was called upon to deliver a thuggish response to the tsunami of criticism that has deluged the Cabinet. Bill ‘Hitman’ CHATT has earned from me the following opinion.
The abiding conclusion must be that the Cabinet members consider themselves a large part of the Ruling Class – not a small part of the Serving Class, which, in a democracy, is exactly what they are.
I begin my critique with Section 1:
Few would take issue with Councillor CHATT’s characterisation of the No Confidence Motion saga as a “farce”.
It was a farce at a number of levels:
- Farce #1– the performance of the Mayor, Councillor Martin SMITH [Con.], was indeed a farce, riddled with arrogance, ineptitude and crass stupidity. Read more here.
- Farce #2 – the utterly false description by Councillor CHATT of Councillor CROSS’s detailed deconstruction of the Cabinet as “”frivolous” and “stuff he should have known as a Councillor, if he bothered to read the meeting”. Read more here.
- Farce #3 – the ludicrous ninefold parroting of appeals for “dispensation”, allowing the Leader and the seven Cabinet Portfolio Holders (and the Leader’s spouse) to vote on an issue in which every one of them held personal, prejudicial and pecuniary interest – such was their fear that, left to a free vote, they would inevitably have been defeated (by 19 votes to 16). Read more here.
- Farce #4 – CHATT’s disregard for the overwhelming lack (nay, absence) of confidence of two-and-a-half thousand petition signatories plus Whitby Town Council and Filey Town Council who, in Councillor CHATT’s scheme of things, are all irrelevant. Conversely, Sam CROSS, far from being “an empty tin that makes a lot of noise and didn’t do anything else” (is there any need for personal insults between Councillors?) was detailed- and right on the button. Read more here.
- Farce #5 – the disgraceful silencing by Scarborough Mayor Councillor Martin SMITH [Con.] of Councillor Steve SIDDONS [Lab.]. Read more here.
- Farce #6 – the subsequent failed attempt by Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] to bamboozle Filey Town Council into holding an unlawful and totally immoral ‘behind closed doors’ meeting. Read more here and here.
Turning now to Section 2:
Councillor CHATT conveniently omitted to mention the ‘car crash’ Tweets of Councillor Phil TRUMPER [Con.] just a week or two ago. Read more about Councillor TRUMPER’s despicable conduct here – and a further ‘balanced’ report, here.
Presumably, Councillor CHATT remains unaware that social media is now an accepted avenue of communication between members of the public and government institutions – even for the lodging of Freedom of Information requests and Formal Complaints, via Twitter and Facebook?
I know of no web-site other than the North Yorks Enquirer that scrutinises and reports in detail on the pitiful performance of Scarborough Borough Council and other local authorities. Is this the “certain website” to which Councillor CHATT refers? Why is he afraid to say so? It cannot be for fear of a Standards Complaint, since everybody knows that the maximun sanction available to the Standards Committee is 15 minutes “re-training” from the Monitoring Officer (Mrs DIXON). Councillor John NOCK’s ‘punishment’ for his disreputable JACONELLI remarks was a chat with Councillor Andy BACKHOUSE [Con.] – at that time Leader of the Conservative Group.
As regards to Councillor CHATT’s suggestion that communications with Councillors should pass through the proper channels, perhaps he has forgotten that when Enquirer contributor Tim HICKS asked him a perfectly reasonable question, couched in civil and appropriate terms, asking him to explain his (Councillor CHATT’s) receipt of IT/Broadband Allowances from both NYCC and SBC (“double dipping”), for one and the same broadband connection, Councillor CHATT – who claims to be able to “work with the press” – offered the following “balanced” response was:
“I have waited to responded to somebody for a long time I would ask was it breast feeding that was the problem when you were a child?”
“Was it that you was the kid with glasses on at school who every body picked on, Did you not have a Lego set”
Aside from the facile grammatical errors, does Councillor CHATT really consider that this was an appropriate response to a legitimate enquiry through the proper channels about his apparent abuse of the Allowances system? Farce #7. In my view, this is evidence enough of an arrogant, ignorant, boorish moron unfit for public office.
And on the subject of “keyboard warriors”, “trolls” and “chinless” (“and I do say chinless”) critics ( whatever the hell that is supposed to mean), let us be clear that NYE contributors do not “hide behind their keyboards”. We write under our own names, we attend public meetings in person – without wearing disguises – and we produce public record documentation, official correspondence, FOIA responses and primary legislation in support of our conclusions.
Councillor CHATT’s rant is factually in error at every step, expressed in the language of the schoolyard – or the gutter.
Coming now to Section 3:
Councillor CHATT has hidden his displeasure at “some Councillors” behind a cheap cop-out, when he refers, in particular, to Councillor Rob BARNETT [Lab.], who had been stone-walled in his attempts, following the Grenfell Towers disaster, to have Yorkshire Coast Homes address the dangerous fire hazard at the Whitby flats to which Councillor CHATT refers.
Let us talk about Farce #8 – “the truth” that Councillor CHATT claims to desire. The truth is that only through publication on the Enquirer of Councillor BARNETT’s Letter to the Editor, followed by my own personal correspondence with Mr Bill MILLER, Director of Operations at Yorkshire Coast Homes, was the matter satisfactorily resolved. The truth is that Councillor CHATT was oblivious to the issue until a member of the public (Mr R W) drew Councillor BARNETT’s NYE letter to his attention (I was copied in); his remarks in Cabinet, therefore, were disingenuous in the extreme. I look forward to publishing my YCH correspondence here on the Enquirer if Councillor CHATT has the gall to challenge me. Please do.
The relevant assurance from YCH’s Bill MILLER reads:
“YCH have informed the Housing Association responsible for the flat and they are dealing with this matter.”
Finally, Section 4:
I find it almost incredible that Councillor CHATT has the gall to raise the spectre of predatory paedophile (or ‘hebephile’, as Councillor John NOCK’s defenders would have it), Peter JACONELLI [Con.] – former North Yorkshire and Scarborough Councillor, Mayor and Alderman.
Let us be clear that I, for one, have never described Councillor CHATT or Councillor John NOCK [Con.] as “paedophile supporters”. Nor have I ever seen anything in the Enquirer or on social media making that assertion.
What I have stated – and I repeat it without hesitation – is that both CHATT and NOCK are on the record making excuses for Peter JACONELLI. In my view, this fully justifies referring to them as “JACONELLI apologists”.
Both Councillor Jonathan DODDS [Ind.] and Councillor Rob BARNETT [Lab.] quite rightly lodged Formal Complaints against Councillor NOCK [Con.] following his utterance at the Town Hall of the following shameful statement:
“He [Jaconelli] wasn’t like Savile. He was not a predatory paedophile. He was only handing out money to poor kids for giving him a wank”.
“Only” coercing minors into homosexual prostitution – as if such conduct were perfectly acceptable. It is not. It is criminal. And morally insupportable.
And, as if that were not contemptible enough, Councillor John NOCK [Con.] then proceeded, with the assistance of a Google wizard in the SBC Legal Department, to attempt to mitigate his disgrace by claiming that Peter JACONELLI was not actually a ‘paedophile’ at all – the strict legal definition of which refers to victims under the age of fourteen – on the grounds that Peter JACONELLI (NOCK asserts) was only a ‘hebephile’ – a form of sexual abuser who restricts his predatory perversion to children over fourteen. How he could claim to know the age of each and every JACONELLI victim/survivor remains to be explained. Councillor NOCK then arguably libelled the two Councillors who complained against him (in the Scarborough News) by asserting that it was they who, by doing so, had brought the Council into disrepute. Another “farce” – Farce #9. Read more here.
On 29th May 2014, I reported on Councillor Bill CHATT’s unsubtle remarks in the Council Chamber, in praise of Peter JACONELLI, when he gave his reasons for not supporting the otherwise unanimously carried Motion to strip JACONELLI of all civic honours:
“I used to walk along there and actually work for three hours in his shop. I saw how many people came to that shop and he gave support to. He was my ward Councillor for many years and I know the people up there went to him and got help, support, and in some cases even financial help to support them himself.”
And then, adding insult to considerable injury, Leader Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] displayed the depths of his poor judgement by appointing Councillor NOCK to a Cabinet position. It should not be forgotten that Councillor BASTIMAN has consistently declined to follow in the footsteps of NYCC Leader County Councillor Carl LES and Assistant Chief Constable Paul KENNEDY of the North Yorkshire Police by offering an apology to JACONELLI victims/survivors for the failures in Duty of care by their respective institutions. So three members of the present Cabinet have amply demostrated that they would appear to be soft on child abusers, rather like the paedo-friendly Director of Public Prosecutions who suppressed charges agains JACONELLI back in 1972, his Mayoral year. Yet Councillor CHATT claims that he and his colleagues are hard done-by by their critics. Farce #10. Pass me the vomit bag.
The acceptance of public office rightly includes the acceptance of public scrutiny and public criticism. Get used to it; it is not going away. Facebook users may wish to examine the public comments on the YCR page, here.
So you know what they say about parapet politics, Billy Boy?
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”