An Open Letter to JJ
- by NIGEL WARD, seeking clarity as to why Scarborough Borough Councillor Janet JEFFERSON [Ind.] appears determined to alienate her previously loyal electorate in Castle Ward, Scarborough. It does not require a genius to recognise that the Council would not be so desperate to sell out the residents of Castle Ward in order to hustle a £25M Future High Street Funding (FHSF) grant from central government had it not squandered so many millions on a relentless stream of disastrous ‘entrepreneurial’ projects.
- This Open Letter has been delivered to Councillor JEFFERSON by email (private) and by first class post, as well as a reminder via Facebook Messenger (Councillor JEFFERSON is a Facebook ‘Friend’ of mine). Unfortunately, it would appear that Janet feels she owes no explanation to her electors. She is dodging my question is if it were the coronavirus. She may feel differently when election time finally rolls around.
Councillor Janet JEFFERSON [Ind.] (Castle Ward)
Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources (inc. Harbours)
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
I write to offer you your ‘right of reply’ in response to suggestions that your many alliances in Castle Ward (and, in particular, the Bottom End) are under considerable strain in respect of your apparent support for the Leader’s ‘flagship’ ARGOS regeneration project, otherwise known as 50-59 Newborough [20/02167/FL]. Some have suggested that you are presently embodying a conflict of interests – and by no means only in respect of your business in Eastborough.
Naturally, before forming my own opinion – much less expressing it in the public arena – I want to give you the opportunity to comment.
The bone of contention, I am informed, is that your membership of a large number of bodies and organisations (including two Councils) imposes upon you a duty to represent the interests of fellow members of these Castle Ward organisations.
Examining your Register of Interests, I note that it is indeed the case that you hold membership (and, in some cases, considerable authority) in many bodies. I draw particular attention to those bodies that, to the best of my limited knowledge, can be said to be Castle Ward related.
Scarborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce – President
Castle Ward Tenants and Residents Association – Chair
Castle Community and Police Group – Chair
Friarage Community Primary School Governing Body – Chair
The Rainbow Centre, Castle Road, Scarborough – Trustee
Wilson Mariners Homes – Trustee
South Bay Traders Association – Member
Crescent Residents Working Group – Member
Scarborough Sea Cadets Management Board – Member
A proxy straw poll of some of the members of the above has disclosed widespread and sometimes vehement opposition to the ARGOS project; it is unnecessary to name names, the numbers are telling.
As the most prominent Castle Ward Councillor, whose Cabinet Portfolio includes the Harbour and its users (many of whom work and reside in Castle Ward) and as an influential participant in all of the above named Castle Ward organisations, it is entirely reasonable for you to be called upon to explain the opinions informing your stance in support of a widely-opposed development – one that has been roundly castigated by some of the best Planning brains in the Borough – to fellow members and other residents, whose sense of betrayal is very much your concern, as it is mine.
As one familiar figure in the Bottom End expressed it to me:
“What the hell does Janet think she’s playing at? Whose side is she on?”
It is a good question – and one to which I look forward to you providing a good answer.
Yours, with very kind regards,
Needless to say, my Supplementary Question to Councillor JEFFERSON, had she granted me the courtesy of responce, would have been this:
“Is it the case that Councillors are entitled to park in the Town Hall car park?”
An open and transparent response may have been “I’m alright, Jack!”
In response to a Freedom of Information request, Scarborough Borough Council has provided important information regarding parking facilities in Zone A2 (Castle Ward).
With a total of only 630 available parking spaces, small wonder that residents and business people are horrified at the prospect of 210 students/nurses seeking parking in the immediate vicinity of the ARGOS regeneration.
Please could you provide the following relating to parking permits issued for CASTLE WARD A2 Zone, Scarborough, 2019/20?
- How many RESIDENTS parking permits are issued for Zone A2, 2019/20? 704
- How many visitors’ SCRATCH CARDS have been issued to RESIDENTS of Zone A2, 2019/20? (Please give total number of currently valid issued, disregarding whether or not they have been used) 21,650
- How many visitors’ SCRATCH CARDS have been issued to ACCOMMODATION PROVIDERS of Zone A2, 2019/20? (Please give total number of currently valid issued, disregarding whether or not they have been used). 14,556
- How many tradespersons’ permits have been issued for CASTLE WARD A2 Zone, Scarborough, 2019/20, please? Trade permits are not zone specific they are valid in all 2 and 3 hour disc zones
- Any other permits not covered above issued for CASTLE WARD A2 zone, Scarborough, 2019/2020, please? 26 Business permits and 9 Attendance/carer permits
- Approximately how many on-street parking spaces that are available to holders Residents Parking Permits in A2 zone , Scarborough, 2019/2020, please? 630
- How many PARKING PERMITS are issued to SBC employees and Members for either on-street OR off-street parking. , in A2 zone, Scarborough for 2019/2020, please? None specific to that zone.
This FOIA response has now been cited by Mr James CORRIGAN as Supplementary Evidence to his substantive Objection to the ARGOS Planning Application, as follows:
20/02167/FL | Demolition of existing building and erection of building to provide commercial floorspace (Class E) at ground floor and accommodation for NHS key workers and students at the upper levels | 50-59 Newborough Scarborough North Yorkshire YO11 1ET
I write to provide supplementary evidence to my objection dated 1 December 2020 that demonstrates the impact of this scheme on the parking to the detriment of Castle Ward Residents.
Please see below a FOI response received yesterday that demonstrates the concerns and certainly casts doubt on the Applicants’ traffic demand reports that wrongly makes assumptions of no private vehicles associated with the development. It is clearly not fit for purpose and its findings should be discounted. There are already more permit holders (704) than available spaces (630).
A reasonable estimate for car ownership by students is in the region of 25%. Due to the remote location of this proposal from the 2 institutions it is to serve, the need for private vehicles will inevitably far exceed this ‘average’.
This is compounded by the NHS occupants requiring 24/7 access to transport. It is not unreasonable to conclude that this development would require parking for 100+ vehicles.
More significantly, the Applicant’s tenant Futurelets’ own business model is to let vacant units during summer recess as holiday accommodation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly all travel to holiday destinations (domestically) to be well in excess of 90% by the private car. Therefore requiring a significant increase in associated scratch cards.
My comments above, along with the already oversubscribed existing parking capacity and demands evidenced in the FOI response, confirm one thing; that is, the intended development would severely limit Castle Ward residents’ ability to use their vehicles to approximately 2/3 of the present, desperately inadequate provision, thereby promoting a high risk of conflict between fellow users – tourists and residents alike.
SBC guidance to developers strongly encourages pre-application engagement with the communities concerned. This has not happened. Nor have SBC, as a party to the proposal, made any attempt to comply with its own planning guidance by way of any public consultation or explanations of it intentions.
The residents of Castle Ward have been denied an opportunity to engage. Most residents I speak with are aware of the basic proposal, but not the detail and certainly not the implications.
This disenfranchisement is exacerbated by our residents’ association, tasked to represent our interests, remaining silent. The residents association have not held any meetings to discuss this development due to Covid-19 and the subsequent Lockdown 2.
It is also worthy to point out that the public consultation period coincided with Lockdown 2 This certainly has not helped with the total lack of awareness of the proposed development and its implications on the residents.
Parking considerations also figure prominently in another Objection, from Mr Antony FENTER (who, I am informed, is a former Senior Environmental Officer at the Council):
The facts, the figures and the most qualified informed opinion all conclusively demonstrate that the ARGOS proposal would be an insufferable blight on the Old Town, and yet Councillor Janet JEFFERSON appears willing to sacrifice her own and her neighbours’ quality of life to a half-assed hybrid between a vanity project and feeble bluff for that £25M Future High Street Funding (FHSF) from central government – already stymied, according to the Financial Times (“UK local councils banned from making risky property bets” – 25/11/20), by new legislation prohibiting local authorities from borrowing from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) for commercial speculation.
So I conclude by echoing the question which I quoted in the conclusion to my Open Letter to Councillor JEFFERSON:
“What the hell does Janet think she’s playing at? Whose side is she on?”
But perhaps Janet knows that the ARGOS proposal is already a dead duck, so she can safely appease her Leader without actual detriment to her neighbourhood. Cake and eat it.
Next, she could be touting the Comet building . . . it’s every man for himself when the ship’s going down.
More to come, folks!