Friday 22nd September 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

NYCC Elections: Eastfield & Osgodby Division Preview

NYCC Elections: Eastfield & Osgodby Division Preview

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reviewing the candidates for the Eastfield & Osgodby Division of the NYCC elections.

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[OPINION]

In the Eastfield & Osgodby Division of the North Yorkshire County Council elections on 4th May 2017, incumbent County Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.] is almost certain to retain his seat – and deservedly so, in my view, because Tony is one of the most proactive members of both Councils, NYCC and SBC.

I hope that Green candidate Tony JOHNSON recognises that his prospects of election are negligible – and will take no offence over me expressing that opinion.

Also standing against incumbent County & Borough Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.] is one Tracey Ann WHITE. Tracey is a Councillor (and Vice Chair/Deputy Mayor) of Eastfield Town Council, where she has been a prominent member for some years.

I have consulted the Scarborough Borough Council website and reproduced that part of her Register of Interests (to review the complete document, click here) that is relevant to the present article, here:

Section 30. PART B.12 OTHER INTERESTS is the section in which affiliation to any political party, etc, must be declared.

To the question “Are you a member of or part of any body whose purpose includes the influence of public opinion?”, Tracey Ann WHITE has answered “No”.

But that Register of Interests (as shown in the image above) was declared three-and-a-half years ago on Friday 20th September 2013 at 11:45am.

Maybe things have changed since then? Maybe not.

The Localism Act 2011 requires that Councillors must declare any change in their disclosable interests within 28 days of any such change arising – including joining or leaving a political party. To fail to do so is to commit an offence.

In a Freedom of Information response via the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website, Councillor Chris PARSONS, Chair and Acting Clerk of Eastfield Town Council, provided the most up-to-date (2016) Registers of Interests for all Eastfield Town Councillors, in which, under Item 12, Councillor Tracey Ann WHITE has answered the almost identical question – “Are you a member of or part of any body whose principle purposes include the influence of public opinion?” – (again) with the single word “No”.

However, this information appears to be untrue, since Tracey Ann WHITE is the nominated Conservative candidate (or paper-candidate?) for the Eastfield & Osgodby Division in the forthcoming NYCC elections, and therefore has a legal duty to declare membership under Item 12 of the Register.

It is simply not credible that Tracey Ann WHITE could have achieved the Conservative nomination without being a member of the Conservative Party, though whether or not she would have received that nomination had the Party been aware of the false declaration in her Register of Interests is a moot point – though one might expect them to check whether or not potential candidates stand in breach of legislation. Nevertheless, according to Tracey Anne WHITE’s election leaflet, she joined the Conservatives “last year”.

“Last year”, needless to say – even if it was on the very last day of 2016 – leaves her well outside the statutorily permitted period in which she must declare he Conservative membership on her Register of Interests.

Tracey Ann WHITE [Con.] has made previous attempts at achieving election at Borough and County level. She unsuccessfully contested the Eastfield Ward of the Scarborough Borough Council elections in both 2007 (under her then name, ASHFORD?) and again 2011, resorting to one of her present names (she also affects the name Tracey REEVES), coming fifth on both occasions.

Tracey Anne WHITE stood for Labour in the 2009 County elections, coming last of four in the Eastfield & Osgodby Division. I have a feeling that she was Chair of the Scarborough & Whitby Constituency Labour Party around that time. So a Labour would-be big-wheel and confidante of SBC Councillor Vanda INMAN [Ind.] (a labour Councillor until she resigned from the party rather than accept a minimal sanction for defying the Whip on the Futurist ‘demolition’ vote) has turned Tory, with or without a vengeance. One cannot but wonder whether or not Councillor INMAN was approached first by the Tories; if so, she most probably declined – otherwise the Tories would have been unlikely to lower the threshold to admit Tracey Anne WHITE.

However . . . Tracey Anne WHITE’s recent conversion to Conservatism has clearly not been a profound ideological epiphany, since she has not even troubled herself to declare it on her Register of Interests.

And it is peculiar in that  Tracey Anne WHITE has abandoned her socialist roots now, of all times, given that Labour have vanquished the LibDems from their former stronghold – two Labour candidates having topped the poll in 2015, with a third missing out by only one vote (to Councillor Jonathan DODDS [Ukip]).

One possible explanation is that Labour, having given her every opportunity in the past, could have now marked her down as a sure-fire loser (or potential INMAN-style renegade), so a shift to the Tories may have been nothing more than a last gasp shot at the £8,994 per annum Allowances at County, rising (disgracefully) to £9,218 per annum in the coming financial year (but not – thankfully – to the £9,442 recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel).

Interestingly, Councillor Jordan Thomas SESTON of Eastfield Town Council, who contested the Eastfield Ward in the SBC 2015 elections on a UKIP ticket and now runs as a Conservative in the Castle Division, has now properly declared, in his Register of Interests, his recent defection to the Conservative Party. I hope he has remembered to resign his UKIP membership; the Conservatives do not permit their candidates to hold membership in any other party.

But Councillor Tracey Ann WHITE has not declared her membership of the Conservative Party on her Register (though presumably having first remembered to resign  from Labour – but who knows?).

It will come as a surprise to no-one that very few candidates pin their colours to the mast of the party whose values and ideology most closely approximates to their own; rather, to the party whose prospects in any given Division appear most likely to result in election – and, thereby, that cushy £37K over the coming four-year Council term. Nice (part-time) work, if you can get it.

I know [::sighs::] – ’twas ever thus.

One might expect the SBC Monitoring Officer, Mrs Lisa DIXON to identify the various above irregularities as a vital part the roster of responsibilities for which she draws her salary of £74,900 per annum. Failing that, the Deputy Returning Officer Mr Jim DILLON. I can only assume that they have become complacent in the certainty that the North Yorks Enquirer will do their work for them – only more diligently. And free.

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