Saturday 22nd June 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer


The North Yorks Enquirer feels bound, in the public interest, to reproduce the following Open Letter to NYC Councillor Neil Swannick, from a Whitby elector –  the recently co-opted Whitby Town Councillor, Jacqui Layman.

The Enquirer will always welcome correspondence from Councillors who speak out in the public interest.



Dear Councillor,
I write to you with two pens. With the first as a citizen of Whitby, concerned about your support for the proposed Maritime Hub on Endeavour Wharf.  You recently posted a comment of support for this proposal on the NYC planning website under the designation of ‘Councillor’. While no-one could take issue with Mr. Swannick declaring his personal support, they could find it curious you chose to emphasise your official title, especially as your opinion seems to be at odds with the consensus of the townsfolk. Indeed, I can find no public record whatsoever of you canvassing your constituents for their views on this issue.  Perhaps if you had, you would discover that, despite carefully interpreted results of responses to ambiguous and loaded questions at poorly advertised and poorly attended ‘public consultations’, the actual support for the Hub, as proposed, is very small. (Had the consultations been held in a marquee on Dock End or say, the area outside the old HSBC building, they would have been more visible, better attended and probably a whole lot cheaper than the locations that were chosen!)  I have spoken to many people on this subject and can honestly say you are the only person I have met who actually endorses it!  Using the prefix ‘Councillor’ could be interpreted as your comment being offered as representative of the views of your constituents. As this is evidently not the case perhaps you would consider withdrawing your comment and resubmitting it as a private citizen?
With the second pen, I write to you as a Councillor for Whitby Town Council. I would like to state publicly my personal stance which is to share your belief Whitby definitely needs to diversify its economy away from tourism, and I fully endorse the hope that training and employment opportunities can be provided to rekindle Whitby’s maritime links and give the town’s young people a chance to stand as proud today as their parents did yesterday.  What I do not and cannot do however, is support your belief that this proposal is the answer.  Should you campaign for, say , the reinstatement of the railway line to York, or for NYC to face up to their responsibilities and make the urgent and necessary repairs to the piers and the harbour (without which the hub may find itself cut off from access to the sea before it is even completed!), or the provision of 24 hr/365 day secure park-and-ride schemes on both sides of town, things desperately needed NOW, then you will find me an ardent and dependable supporter. I firmly believe the Hub, as proposed, is the wrong building, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It will be a white elephant and NYC need to listen to the people of Whitby, to go away, and to think again. In the meantime, I would ask you to join me and support the motions I have put forward for the provision of disabled toilet facilities and ATMs on the East side of town.  Your side of town. Your constituents. Small beer perhaps, but then, I am a small fish in a small pond and they will need a helping hand should they get to County Hall. They may not have the prestige of a multi-million pound project but I am sure they will be better received and appreciated than the proposed Maritime Hub.
Jacqui Layman

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