A Letter to the Editor from Sam CROSS, the Leader of the UKIP Group at both Scarborough Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council, who writes to offer readers a point of view on the BEN MARRIOTT affair. It is a point of view that is unlikely to be well-received by Leader Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.], already under mounting pressure regarding his misinterpretation (whether wilful or otherwise) of the Council’s documentation concerning The Futurist Theatre, as well as the latest scandal – the South Bay pollution issue.
My name is Sam Cross and, for readers who do not know it, I am Leader of the UKIP Group at Scarborough Borough Council, where I represent Filey. I also represent Filey at North Yorkshire County Council.
I cannot recall a day when I have left the house over the past few weeks without hearing talk of the allegations made by former SBC technician Ben Marriott, whose reputation as a whistleblower is fast becoming that of a regular folk hero. I have been surprised how many people have read the judgement handed down by Judge Forrest in Mr Marriott’s claim against the Council for constructive dismissal, which he won. I am shamed to say that the judge described the Council’s conduct as a whitewash.
What I am hearing as I go about my daily business is that rather like the Peter Jaconelli scandal, everybody I meet places great creedence in the rumours of councillors and officers taking advantage of cheap work and materials provided by middle-men, with the assistance of one or more of the council’s contractors or sub-contractors. Everything from new driveways to carports, landscaping and even a hot tub, bathroom and kitchen fittings – everything including the kitchen sink. I have heard that mentioned by members of the public.
Of course such stories can only be classed as hearsay. The Jaconelli stories were classed as hearsay.
More importantly, these stories have been appearing in your pages for a long time now. Several years.
I was disappointed when Cllr Derek Bastiman announced that the council would conduct an internal investigation. Given the damning words of the judge, that was never going to be satisfactory. Even now that Cllr Bastiman has revised his stance and called in Mazars, I feel far from comfortable.
Mazars is fundamentally an accountancy company. They have no powers to visit the homes and business premises of councillors or officers. No power to search or extract evidence of a forensic nature. They have no power even to interview people who are no longer part of the council, much less sub-contractors who operate two or three steps removed from the council itself.
It follows that this kind of investigation can only result in more questions than answers.
In my mind, the integrity of every councillor and every employee of the council – innocent or guilty – is in danger of being dragged through the mire.
Without any doubt, what is needed here is a full police investigation. I was astounded to learn that the council has not already called in the police.
Finally, I believe that this is not a party political issue. Surely, surely, surely when the reputation of the whole council is on the line, those of us who care about high standards in public life must set our political differences to one side and join with a single voice in the cry for a full investigation by North Yorkshire Police – or better still, a police force from further afield, to ensure a totally impartial examination, with prosecutions where hard evidence is brought to hand.
Thank you for keeping the public informed.
Sam CROSS [UKIP], Filey. 15th December 2016.
SBC Parking Fiasco
“Christmas has come early.”
“If you have been given a parking ticket in one of the town’s many disc zones, get onto the council and claim your money back.”
“This could end up costing a fortune – questions need to be asked about how this was allowed to happen.”
The public comments section at the foot of the newspaper’s on-line coverage makes interesting reading, too.