Wednesday 17th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

PARNABY: Standards Investigation – Too Little, Too Late?

PARNABY: Standards Investigation – Too Little, Too Late?

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, updating readers on a trivial diversion in the on-going saga of allegations against Leader Councillor Stephen PARNABY OBE [Con.].


Following a lengthy series of extremely grave allegations against ERYC Leader Councillor Stephen PARNABY OBE [Con.], published by Cottingham developer Mr Peter ROBINSON – a former intimate friend of Councillor PARNABY – the news emerged from sources inside the Council last Friday 22nd September 2017 that an internal Standards Investigation had been launched against the Leader.

This information appeared to have been confirmed in a report on the Hull Daily Mail website on Saturday morning. However, links to the report almost immediately ceased to function, delivering only the following message:

Curiously, this morning (Monday 25th September 2017) the link has now been re-instated. It is understood that the story was withdrawn at the request of an unidentified party at ERYC County Hall (guesses on a postcard!), and has now been re-activated following pointed enquiries made by transparency and anti-corruption campaigner Andy STRANGEWAY.

ERYC Leader Cllr Stephen PARNABY [Con.] (left) and Planning Chair Cllr Phyllis POLLARD [Con.]

In essence, the article confirms that a Standards Investigation has been launched against PARNABY – but only in respect of the relatively trivial allegation that Councillor PARNABY may have breached the terms of the Council’s Code of Conduct insofar as he is alleged to have treated fellow Conservative Councillor and Chair of the beleaguered Planning Committee Councillor Phyllis POLLARD with disrespect, impugning her intelligence by stating that she is:

  • “a lovely lady but she doesn’t know what day it is”.

Absurdly, the broader and more substantive allegations concerning Councillor PARNABY’s relationship with Arvarto Government Services Ltd and a number of Planning irregularities apparently do not figure within the scope of the investigation at all.

I am also privy to other, less public allegations in respect of Planning Decisions in Brough, Beverley and Driffield, decided during Councillor Phyllis POLLARD’s tenure as Chair of Planning under PARNABY’s Leadership – none of which would appear to figure in the present Standards Investigation, either.

Councillor Phyllis POLLARD [Con.] has ignored my 7th September 2017 offer of a ‘right of reply’ in respect of the Driffield allegations (an apparent departure from impartiality), leaving me free to publish at my own prerogative.

Transparency at ERYC would appear to have taken a continuing sabbatical.

Meanwhile, ERYC Chief Exec Caroline LACEY is attempting to evade addressing irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Councillor PARNABY presented to her (and the wider public) by Mr Peter ROBINSON – and by me in a series of private emails to her, with attachments, which confirm the conclusions of Mr ROBINSON’s investigations.

Her only response to me thus far evinces an almost total miscomprehension of the submitted documents, from which I can only conclude that either she is intellectually challenged by the complexities of the case (and was therefore appointed, for whatever reason, beyond her innate capacity), or she is merely affecting miscomprehension – which, in my view, would be an act of outright dishonesty – or, alternatively, it is also possible that she has been provided with erroneous advice by some as-yet unidentified Officer in the Legal & Democratic Services department.

Nevertheless, Mrs LACEY has confirmed for me, on 6th September 2017, that:

  • “You wish to lodge a complaint against Councillor Parnaby.  I have referred your complaint to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.”

However, I have heard nothing from the Monitoring Officer, which is unsurprising since he is himself the subject of multiple Formal Corporate Complaints regarding procedural improprieties, and therefore constitutionally required to refer the matter to his statutory superior – Mrs LACEY.

Mrs LACEY has also stated:

  • “You also wish to lodge a complaint against me which I have also referred to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.”

Thus, I have been shunted off onto a branch line which forms part of a so-called ‘closed loop’ – essentially, LACEY > BUCKLEY, BUCKLEY > LACEY, LACEY > BUCKLEY, ad infinitum. The ‘closed loop’ may include others, e.g. Interim Director of Corporate Services Darren STEVENS (and thereby hangs a lengthy tale) or Director of Planning & Regeneration Alan MENZIES (against whom at least one Formal Corporate Complaint hangs in limbo), but its circuitous nature is readily apparent.

One may conclude that there is no corporate will to hold to account Councillor PARNABY – or, indeed, any of his ‘henchpersons’.

Councillor PARNABY, who has been Leader since the inception of the Council in 1996, is well-placed to know in which closets his minions may have secreted any putative ‘skeletons’ – indeed, some of those minions may owe their present positions/salaries/pensions in whole or in part to Councillor PARNABY’s tacit approval. (In my experience, ‘bought’ loyalties sometimes prove all too fragile when ‘heat’ is applied).

In my view, this fact alone offers cogent insight into why twenty years really is too long a tenure for any Leader – however scrupulously honest.

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