POLL: Have Your Say!
- – an “In My View”article by NIGEL WARD, soliciting public opinion on the subject of:
“Who should be the next (and last) Leader of Scarborough Borough Council?”
The embarrassment arising from the performance of SBC Leader, Councillor Steve SIDDONS [Lab.], has led to further speculation as to whether or not it is appropriate, from a historical perspective, for him to lead the Council to the end of almost half a century as our local authority – a Borough Council that, having fallen to the foot of the league table in recent years, is about to be not merely ‘relegated’ but abolished entirely.
This speculation is fuelled by the fact that, at the last meeting – the Extraordinary Meeting convened on Friday 23rd July 2021, to attempt a resolution of the consequences of years of mismanagement of the accounts – roughly one third of members chose to mark themselves ‘Absent’.
The meeting started 6 minutes late, to accommodate (I am told) the Leader’s desperate (but futile) efforts to drum up something approaching a credible attendance. The administration has sought to pass off this extraordinary level of absenteeism as a consequence of members being fearful (on account of the ‘pandemic’) of leaving the perceived security of their ‘virtual’ meetings (conducted via Zoom). However, many of the absentees have been sighted around town, often without masks . . .
A more likely explanation lies in the abject failure of the Leader’s always unrealistic aspirations to split North Yorkshire into two unitary authorities – the East/West model. This predictable (and predicted) failure – and the inevitable success of the NYCC/CYC bid – was subsequently described by SIDDONS on ‘live’ television as “a dog’s breakfast”. Requests to the “Openness & Transparency” Leader for the sum total of ratepayers’ money squandered on this chimera have met with the customary wall of silence.
Few who watched SIDDONS’ car-crash interview on BBC Look North will forget how hapless and hopeless the Leader came across when caught ‘off piste’ or (as some would have it) ‘half piste’. A ‘major’ calamity.
Following SIDDONS’ narrow escape (just 3 votes) from his most recent Vote of No Confidence (28th January 2021), most right-thinking members have been playing ‘the numbers game’ – evaluating the prospects of finally, at the third attempt, dislodging the man who claimed he had no wish to stand ever again at the last election (May 2019).
It now seems likely that the threshold has been met, and thus arises the question many members have been pondering for the past two years – who should or could succeed Councillor SIDDONS to lead the Council to as honourable conclusion as can be imagined through the closing months of its forty-nine year existence?
Technically, and legally, this is a question for members to decide.
However, that decision can (and perhaps should) best be made in the light of the views of the electorate. That is the democratic ideal.
One way to elicit those views is to hold a Poll – a secret ballot – the results of which will only be made public shortly before the next scheduled meeting of Full Council (on 6th September 2021).
Have your Say!
Click on just ONE of the names of the most-discussed potential Leaders, listed below in no particular order, to register your choice. (Missing is the name of Alderman Norman MURPHY, presently not an elected member of the Council. However, with more than one Councillor for one reason or another unlikely to see out the remaining 20 months or so, a by-election could yet throw “Stormin’ Norman” back into the mix).
THE CONTENDERS (pictured anti-clockwise from 1 to 0 on the telephone dial in the featured image, above and below) are:
1. Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] – is the Conservative Group Leader and led the Council from 2015-2019
2. Councillor Janet JEFFERSON [Ind.] – is the Independent Group Leader and Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources
3. Councillor Sam CROSS [Y.C.I.A.] – is the Yorkshire Coast Independent Alliance Group Leader
4. Councillor Mike COCKERILL [C.I.M.] – is the Cluster of Independent Members Group Leader
5. Councillor Will FORBES [Green.] – is the Green Group Leader
6. Councillor Michelle DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF [Ind.] – is the Portfolio Holder for the Environment & Sustainability
7. Councillor Heather PHILLIPS – [Con.] – is the Conservative Deputy Group Leader
8. Councillor Neil HERITAGE – [Y.C.I.A.] – is the Yorkshire Coast Independent Alliance Deputy Group Leader
9. Councillor Bill CHATT [C.I.M.] – is the Cluster of Independent Members Deputy Group Leader
0. Councillor Andrew BACKHOUSE [Ind.] – is Chair of the Audit Committee