Friday 08th December 2023,
North Yorks Enquirer

SBC’s Offices To Let

SBC’s Offices To Let

Enquirer stalwart NORMAN MURPHY offers his ‘take’ on the Leader’s Urgent Decision to secretively acquire Pavilion House and Comet Corner for £3½ million.


I bet, when Steve “It’s a Dog’s Breakfast” Siddons, the fool who thinks he leads Scarborough Council, had his £30 million ratepayer-funded ARGOS scam unceremoniously dumped by the Planning Committee, many of you thought it might, at last, be safe to come out from behind the settee.

Indeed, I suspect that some of you might even have thought that, now the ARGOS scam was dead in the water, the money-grabbing thieves who inhabit the darker recesses of the Town Hall would not, after all, get their grubby little mitts on your hard-earned Council Tax.

However, your relief, fellow ratepayers, I am sad to say, appears to be a little premature and, as might be expected from a leader who seems to be obsessed by a desire to wring every last penny out of ratepayers before his rule is over, the thieves are back, bigger and more determined than ever.

Indeed, with hardly enough time for the corpse of the ARGOS scam to go cold, Steve “It’s a Dog’s Breakfast” Siddons was back with his latest scam, a scheme he disarmingly describes as the Station Gateway project.

Now for those of you who are not, as yet, familiar with this scam, I think it might be informative to run the outline of what Siddons has in mind past you “the little people” – as it is rumoured Siddons likes to call us.

So what is the Station Gateway project? Well, perhaps the first thing to get straight is that although Siddons likes to refer to his latest scam as the Station Gateway project, what he is really referring to is the Council’s purchase and proposed redevelopment of two properties in Scarborough; Pavilion House and the old Comet building.

These two properties have now been bought by the Council, at a cost of £3.5 million, which, of course, has been borrowed, although who the money was borrowed from is, of course, “Top Secret”. But from wherever the money came, we “the little people” will be paying it back.

So what is our financial genius Steve “It’s a Dog’s Breakfast” Siddons going to do with these properties now that we have bought them for him, I hear you ask?

Well – and I don’t think you should laugh; it is after all your money he is playing with – what the glorious leader is proposing to create this time is not BEDSITS that nobody either wants or will use, but OFFICE SPACE that nobody wants or will use.

What Siddons and his cronies are going to squander your money on this time is creating OFFICES.

In a town that is currently overflowing with empty office space, your Council is going to spend, wait for it, circa £36 million quid, which it intends to borrow and which, of course, we will be required to pay back, to remodel the empty and unlettable offices in Pavilion House and completely demolish the old Comet building and build even more new offices.

At a time when firms no longer want or require employees to attend the office, Siddons wants to spend £36 million of your money building offices.

In the new post-Covid world, where working-from-home will be the new normal, and the traditional office environment will cease to exist, Siddons wants to spend £36 million of your money building offices.

While local authorities up and down the country are despairing of what to do with their hundreds of thousands of redundant office spaces, Siddons wants to spend £36 million of your money building offices.

So what is the justification Siddons is using to build his offices? Well, Siddons tells us very confidently that at least four local employers will utilise the office space.

These are our old ARGOS friends, Coventry University and the York NHS Trust.

Plus two newcomers to the ratepayer-funded feast.

Beyond Housing and the North Yorkshire Police.

Why exactly any of these organisations should require new offices Siddons does not explain. They, like every other employer who traditionally had work-stations established in offices, have had to move over to distance-working with employees working from home.

Nonetheless, Siddons says they need additional office space, so who are we to argue? Having said that, of course, we might be entitled to ask “Well, how much are these organisations going to contribute to ensure that they get the office space Siddons says they so desperately need?

Well, let’s take a look.

  • Coventry University is going to contribute NOTHING.
  • The York NHS Trustis going to contribute NOTHING.
  • Beyond Housing is going to contribute NOTHING.
  • The North Yorkshire Police is going to contribute NOTHING.

The whole £36 million cost of the Pavilion/Comet scam is, in fact, being paid for by you, my fellow ratepayers.

None of the organisations listed above, nor anyone else as far as we know, are putting a penny into this scam.

Moreover, although Siddons says they will be queuing up to get offices in the new development, not one of them, as far as is known, nor any other organisation for that matter, has signed a contract guaranteeing that they will take office space.

The whole Pavilion/Comet project is, as far as I can see, nothing but another ARGOS-style scam. Only this time, Siddons is not going to let the pesky “little people” get in his way. This project will never get to a Council Committee where concerned elected members might, on behalf of their bewildered residents, question the wisdom of the Council borrowing £36 million to build offices.

No. This time, Siddons will not make the mistake of allowing this project to get anywhere near the democratic process. This scheme will be forced through by Leader’s Urgent Decision, the privilege that the leader of a local authority can use to side step objections from pesky elected members.

My guess is that Siddons will block any attempt to have the Pavilion/Comet scam put before members at Full Council. It will just be nodded through by his Cabinet chums in a private meeting with the press and public very firmly excluded.

The whole Pavilion/Comet scam will, in the end, I suspect, be just another Council-backed ratepayer-funded failure. Another pair of White Elephants to add to Siddons growing herd.

Indeed, as it was said to me only the other day, Siddons would be far better off investing our money in Villas in TUSCANY rather than offices in Scarborough – but I don’t suppose he has thought of that.

Arrivederci suckers! 

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