A Letter to the Editor from Scarborough Borough Councillor Norman MURPHY [Ind.] responding to Scarborough News editor Ed ASQUITH’s editorial comments in the Scarborough News of Thursday 7th December 2017.
Re Ed Asquith’s Editors Letter
So the editor of the Scarborough News, Ed Asquith, (Editors Letter – 7th Dec. ’17) finds it hard to understand why the satirical magazine Private Eye puts Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), so frequently [see below], in its Rotten Boroughs page. Why, he laments incredulously, are the Council being pilloried in a “magazine which highlights peculiar judgments made by local authorities” when the “local authority” has brought several new and much needed facilities to the Borough. How can it be, he wails, that so many in the Borough hold those responsible for achieving these successes in such low esteem. Indeed, he finds it “odd” that “no one says how proud they are of its efforts and deeds”.
Well Ed, let me try to explain.
Although you may not have noticed, there can be little doubt that, in the view of many Borough residents, the ruling élite controlling SBC have made many “peculiar judgments” in recent years. Indeed the ratepayers, whom they claim to serve, are increasingly voicing the opinion, on any platform they can find, that they are sick of being treated with relentless contempt and are tired of having their legitimate concerns ridiculed, or more often, ignored.
Many people feel that Town Hall schemes such as the proposed sale of the old Dean Road depot site to Tesco to build a hyper-store, which, if the Council had pulled it off would almost certainly have destroyed our town centre, was crazy.
Others consider that the demolition of the Futurist Theatre, at a cost of over £4 million to the ratepayers, is a spectacular waste of ratepayer’s money. Many also fear that if the Futurist is demolished the town will lose yet another historic and valuable asset and, worse still, the site will be left derelict; and undeveloped for years to come.
While the proposed sale of the South Cliff Bowling Club land (SCBC) is viewed, by a growing number of residents, as only being considered to plug gaps in the Town Hall’s finances. Gaps, which many feel, are the result of reckless Council spending on madcap schemes and the possible need to repay dodgy unsecured loans taken out to support failing Council-backed projects.
Indeed, Ed, the words crazy, reckless, wasteful, dodgy and contemptuous, and many others much worse, are being voiced more and more frequently, by diverse sections of the public, to collectively describe the current Council leadership. Many residents consider that we now have a leadership totally out of control and intent on imposing their collective, dictatorial will on the residents of the Borough, regardless of their views.
Nor, Ed, is this dictatorial attitude only directed at residents. Elected members are not exempt from Big Brother’s gaze either. We have now learnt that our emails from constituents’ are being regularly read, and, if the Town Hall do not like the contents, censored. Consequently, many people feel that the current Council disregard outraged public opinion, ignore resident’s legitimate concerns and make decisions which fly in the face of common sense. And, sadly Ed, it is difficult to argue against any of these views.
The perception out there, in the real world, is that the fabric of our beautiful town “Scarborough” is being threatened by the very people who should be looking after it. Projects such as the demolition of the Futurist Theatre and the sale of the SCBC land, many feel, are being carried out on the orders of the people who should be protecting these valuable amenities – not destroying them.
Moreover, residents and visitors alike can clearly see that if these two projects are allowed to proceed, they will irrevocably destroy significantly important aspects of Scarborough’s heritage, history and beauty.
So, Ed, SBC regularly gets into Rotten Boroughs because, evidence suggests, it fails to engage with the public it claims to serve. It has no respect for the taxpayers who fund it and the manner of its decision-making, many residents think, stinks. That is why things, to use your words, have gotten “to such an unfortunate and unnecessary state”.
Cllr Norman Murphy
Norman MURPHY, Scarborough. 10th December, 2017.