Saturday 20th July 2019,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Rank Hypocrisy”

“Rank Hypocrisy”

A Letter to the Editor by NORMAN MURPHY, the former Independent Councillor who many Scarborians hoped would assume the Leadership of the Council, following the Tory collapse. Norman minces no words, beats about no bushes and calls it as he sees it. Read on . . .

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Dictionary definitions:

Hypocrisy: The practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case. A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not: behaviour that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel: His hypocrisy was finally revealed with the publication of his private letters. especially: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion our conventional morality often serves as a cover for hypocrisy and selfishness.

Rank-smelling: having an offensive rancid odour.

Rank Hypocrisy:

As the new Independent/Labour Council begins to try and clear up the putrid mess that the out-going Conservative administration has left behind, it is evident that the defeated Tories leave office with a vineyard full of sour grapes in their mouths. Indeed, the look of disbelief, despair and twisted fury clearly displayed on their faces when the united Independent/Labour coalition seamlessly occupied the chairs and portfolios, they had so recently considered were theirs, for ever; was a vision which will live with me, and I am sure many others, for a very long time.

However, the look of fury and enmity displayed by the Conservative Group and its supporters in the aftermath of the election is as nothing compared to the stench of rank hypocrisy which has emanated from within their ranks in recent months. Indeed, the odorous fumes discharged from within Tory HQ are now becoming so foul they would probably make a billy goat puke.

That being said, of course, although the pungent vapours polluting the atmosphere all emanate from the rotting heap of failed Tory policies they have left decaying in the Town Hall, it seems they are not willing to admit that they were responsible for creating the dreadful whiff. Indeed, hardly had they vacated their ivory towers before they were trying to convince the voters, who had just dismissed them with such anger and contempt, that the stinking mess they were leaving behind was somehow not their fault.

In Whitby, for example, the first pungent aroma of Conservative rank hypocrisy was detected when the announcement was made that the hated DBID scheme, which many people considered stank about as fishy as a five week old box of Kippers, had been approved by the Secretary of State. The confirmation that the DBID scheme was to go ahead means that many hard-pressed east coast businesses, many in Whitby, will now have to pay the Council an additional 5% in rates each year. However, although the DBID scheme was endorsed and supported by the ousted Conservative junta, they are now apparently claiming that “it wasn’t me, guv, it was all some fiendish plot cooked up by some dodgy firm of consultants”.

But sorry, Tories – it won’t wash. The good people of Whitby, it transpires, can smell a rat a mile away and they know full well who was behind the DBID scheme, and who is to blame for its introduction, and they have concluded that this particular rat is decidedly blue in colour. Moreover, had the Secretary of State’s judgment been made public before the election, as many believe it could (and should) have been, then the chances of a Conservative getting elected in Whitby, would have been as remote as they were in Scarborough and Filey.

Then we had a former Conservative Cabinet Member rambling on almost incoherently about the need for the new administration to “allow public questions and comment at council meetings” and that “a clear indication of the procedure would be useful” and, of course, very few people would disagree that the introduction of these procedures should be addressed with some urgency. However, many people feel, quite rightly, that these procedures should have been introduced years ago and that it is the height of hypocrisy for a Tory to be moaning about how slow the new administration is dealing with these issues.

If democracy was so important to the Tories, why, as they had held power for the previous twenty years, had they failed to adopt a more democratic form of administration, when they had the opportunity to do so? The sulphurous odour of rank hypocrisy would indicate that the Council was run by the Tory hierarchy without the public being allowed to ask questions or comment at Council meetings and that no clear indication of procedure was instituted because it suited them to keep public engagement as far away from the decision making process as possible.

Then there is the accusation of cronyism thrown at the new administration by our former Cabinet Member; “A cause for concern here in Whitby is the appointment of a licensee as Chairman of the Licensing Committee. You should be aware that there are suspicions that cronyism will play a big part in the Licensing function whilst you are in power”. One could see why the appointment of someone who actually knows what they are doing, or is an expert in their field, would cause suspicions in the mind of a Tory former Cabinet member.

Having been a part of a crony-riddled administration where people were appointed not for what they knew but for how quickly they could put their hand up to support the Leadership’s mad capped schemes must be a difficult concept for a Tory former Cabinet Member to understand. However, for those of us who have had to suffer the consequences of decisions made by people who do not seem to have the slightest idea of what they are doing; all we have to do is look at the size of our rates bills! If ever we needed a classic definition of rank hypocrisy all that need be referred to are the sentiments expressed in the former Cabinet Member’s words quoted above.

Not that we need look only to former Cabinet Members for fine examples of rank hypocrisy. The new Mayor of the Borough of Scarborough, as quoted in the Scarborough News“has made “communication” the message for her year in office and warned the new-look council it must listen to the public as it heads into uncertain times”. So let’s look at these noble sentiments and dire warnings, “communication”, “listening to the public” and “uncertain times”.

It will be recalled that the so recently ejected Tory administration, of which she was a part, was thrown out of office, in great part, because their communication, or perhaps more accurately, lack of communication, with the people who had previously elected them was abysmal. How can she claim that communicating with the public is important when she supported policies such as having Officers of the Council open and read constituents emails.

Moreover, how can keeping the vexatious register, which denies those who have legitimate concerns about how the Council is being run communicating with their elected representatives improve communications?

Could this policy be considered by any civilised or sensible democracy to assist communication with the public? The Leadership, which she supported, failed spectacularly to communicate with the public and their refusal to communicate with the public, contributed, in no small measure, in my humble opinion, to their being booted, so un-ceremonially, out of office.

So what about listening to the public? Well, yes – what about listening to the public? The public told the previous administration not to demolish the Futurist; but they did not listen. The public told them they did not want the public toilets closing; but they did not listen. The public told them the Park & Ride sites were in the wrong places; but they did not listen. Not listening to the public became, for the previous administration, the normal way of running the Council and funnily enough the public got sick of it and voted you out of power.

Then there are the uncertain times you refer to. Well you are, of course, correct – the times for Scarborough and the rest of the Borough are certainly uncertain. However, most people understand that it is the policies and reckless mismanagement of the Borough’s affairs, perpetrated by your administration, that have made them uncertain. The Borough now has millions of pounds worth of debt, many of our precious assets have been sold or destroyed, and we are tied into contracts with people who many residents consider are more interested in making a quick buck than the long term future of the Borough.

However, bad as all the rank hypocrisy emanating from former members of the, so-called Leadership is, it is perhaps the comments from our former Cabinet Member for Projects and Partnerships, on the demolition of the Futurist, which take the breath away.

“From a personal point of view, the thing that I particularly don’t like about the Flamingo application is that 55-metre high mast. I think it looks terrible and totally out of place. I’m particularly thinking about residents round about, you know, having people going up in that and going ‘oh that’s what they’re having for tea’, I just don’t think it’s right. Now that the Futurist is down and the area’s been cleared and you’ve got a flat surface, it really shows you the size of the development site. I think the important thing is for the Council to be able to maximise the benefits both to its own coffers, and also for Scarborough town itself, as to what goes on there. If it is possible to open up marketing again, I think it could be worthwhile.”     

He may think that now. But he certainly did not express these views before the Futurist was demolished.

Indeed, he enthusiastically endorsed the Leader’s decision to demolish the Futurist at a cost to the ratepayers of over £4.5 million. The building of a 55-metre high tower was always part of their proposals for the site; where was his objection to its construction when the plan was first offered? Nowhere to be seen. While his claim that he thinks the site should now be remarketed, when he agreed that preferred developer status should go to Flamingo Land, is, as any rational member of the public would think, rank hypocrisy of the highest order.  

Which brings us nicely to the latest outburst of Tory rank hypocrisy; their opposition to the new authorities’ decision to install temporary public toilets and to ultimately find ways to fund a “permanent solution” to the Borough’s lack of public toilet provision. Their call-in of this proposal, perhaps, more than anything else they have said or done since the election, confirms their total lack of understanding of, or empathy with, the needs of our residents and visitors.

It is said that a dead fish rots from the head down and nowhere is this saying more eloquently demonstrated than by this call-in. Indeed, the list of signatories says it all. First on the list is the Chairwoman of the Conservative Association and bringing up the rear is the former Leader of the Council. They cite reasons for their objection to this proposal as being the cost. A possible conflict of interest, because the temporary toilets happen to be needed in wards held by Independent/Labour Councillors. And, perhaps, most laughably, in proposing this very sensible objective they claim, “The role of [the Overview & Scrutiny Board] is being subverted by the executive”.

With regard to their criticism of the minimal cost involved to provide the much needed temporary public conveniences, which from the public response received so far, is greatly appreciated, is beneath contempt.

Indeed, it should be recalled that this criticism comes from members whose administration, “irresponsibly” knocked down some of the existing toilet provision, before establishing that replacements would be forthcoming. Moreover, their criticism is even more contemptible when one remembers that this was the administration which spent ratepayers’ money like a compulsive gambler let loose in a casino. The £4.5 million wasted on knocking down the Futurist being a classic example of how irresponsible they were with ratepayers’ cash.

As for their claim that, “The role of [the Overview & Scrutiny Board] is being subverted by the executive” because they want to provide public toilet provision, this attitude is rank hypocrisy of the most odious kind.

Just because the new Leadership wants do something which might actually benefit our residents and visitors, a very popular initiative which most people support, then, because members of the ousted administration don’t like the public’s support for this welcomed proposal, they accuse the new administration of subversion.

It could well be argued, and is, that the previous administration spent the whole of its time in office subverting the role of the Overview & Scrutiny Board to further its own, selfish policy objectives. Time and time again, both Independent and Labour members called in dubious executive decisions only to see them, if they even got to scrutiny, which was rare, hardly discussed, or – what more often happened – call-ins were thrown out before they were ever allowed to go before the Overview & Scrutiny Board.

If examples of the executive subverting the role of the Overview a& Scrutiny Board are needed then all those who support this call-in need to do is examine the past record of the previous administration. Perfectly legitimate opposition cal-ins were habitually ridiculed, ignored and ultimately thrown out, by an executive seemingly drunk on power.

The criticisms of the bitter and twisted former Tory Leadership cabal, are, perhaps, to be expected, now that they have finally realised that they have been cast aside by the public they treated so contemptuously for twenty years. However, criticisms will not hide the huge and stinking swamp they created while in office. A swamp filled with the remains of broken promises, failed schemes and the dust from Scarborough’s destroyed historic past lining its boggy and putrid floor. They have left us with a mountain of debt, a rubbish heap of failed or failing projects and social problems, such as the absence of public toilets, reminiscent of those found in the third world.

The breath of fresh air now wafting through the corridors of power in the Town Hall will not, I am sure, be to the liking of our embittered and rejected Tories. However, my guess is that the sweet smell of change will be much appreciated by those who want to spend a penny in the Borough of Scarborough. As for the stinking mess the previous administration have left for the new coalition to clean up they have, it is true, a Herculean task in front of them. However, although the deposed Leader of the Council does not think that the members of the new administration are fit to fill the boots of those that have just been ousted, I am certain they are more than up to the task of cleaning up the Augean stable. Moreover, although draining the swamp will not be an easy task, it is a job that has to be done, whether the sneering Tories like it or not.

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