Friday 21st June 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Repeating the Same Mistakes”

“Repeating the Same Mistakes”

Guest Author ALLAN ROBERTS reports on another example of Scarborough Borough Council Officers knowing better than the people they are paid to serve – and, in particular, those who know their working environment far, far better.


At a time when moves are afoot to resurrect the Scarborough Harbour Users Group, perhaps now is the time to look at just why that group was virtually dismembered by the actions of the Director of Finance at SBC, Nick Edwards.

Many of stakeholders at Scarborough Harbour feel they have been let down by SBC Director of Finance Nick Edwards’ refusal, since July 2015, to meet with the Scarborough Harbour Users Group.

Nick Edwards reason to suspend the consultation meetings is because the Group refused to accept the Terms of Reference concocted by SBC as part of the failed Whitby Harbour Board fiasco.

The Terms of Reference Mr Edwards refers to were delineated in 2011 by the then Director of Tourism, Brian Bennett, who has since left SBC, reportedly to join Sirius Minerals.

Those Terms of Reference were ‘deemed’ necessary to comply with Governmental legislation regarding the formation of the Pilot Whitby Harbour Board which, in turn, required an official ‘consultation group’.

Download the PDF file WHB_ToR_2011.

Without a consultation group, the Pilot Whitby Harbour Board would be ‘acting in contention to governmental recommendations’, which would be embarrassing for SBC, and so the Terms of Reference were hastily cobbled together by Brian Bennett.

The Terms of Reference are contained in the separate, but identical, Reports presented to the Whitby Harbour Board dated Oct 3rd 2011, and then to Whitby Harbour Users Group dated Oct 11th 2011.

This is the Risk Matrix that accompanied the Report as presented to the WHB.

This is the Risk Matrix that accompanied the Report as presented to the Whitby Harbour Users Group.

The Risk Matrix of that Report makes it clear that Whitby Harbour Users Group had the option of accepting the ‘Terms of Reference’ – or not, as it saw fit.

It also makes clear that, should the Terms of Reference were not be accepted by the Whitby Harbour Users Group, then that Group would retain its title and remain as it was, with no powers, and would remain a purely advisory group – with NO POWERS.

However, it also makes it clear that that if the Terms of Reference were to be accepted by the Group, it would have to have been re-titled ‘Whitby Harbour Users CONSULTATIVE Group’, but would still remain as before – i.e. with NO POWERS other than as an advisory group.

As it happened, Whitby Harbour Users did choose to accept the SBC Terms of Reference, hence the Group’s change of title to ‘Whitby Harbour CONSULTATIVE Group’, and its purely ‘Consultative’ role with the ill-fated Whitby Harbour Board was established.

It is important to note that the Risk Matrices attached to the Reports to the Pilot Whitby Harbour Board, and to Whitby Harbour Users Group, makes it clear that, whether or not either of those committees accepted, or rejected, the Terms of Reference, nothing would actually change in terms of actual powers and that, without the Terms of Reference, the Whitby Harbour Uses Group would continue as a ‘powerless’ group, and that even with the Terms of Reference it would become, in virtue of the addition of the word ‘CONSULTATION’ to its title, a powerless consultation group!

Fast forward now to 2015:

Whitby Harbour Board is defunct, having been an abject failure and the Borough Harbours fall now within the responsibility of Nick Edwards.

At Scarborough, where the Harbour never at any time had a Pilot Harbour Board, we find Nick Edwards trying his utmost to impose upon the Scarborough Harbour Users Group the same pointless Terms of Reference that the Whitby Harbour Users were conned into accepting.

Furthermore, Nick Edwards chose to alter one very important aspect of the Whitby ToR, which was the timing and venue of meetings – perhaps the most significant reason why the Scarborough Harbour Users Group proved unsuccessful.

The Whitby Terms of Reference recognised that by no means all of the representatives, because of work commitments, etc, were able to attend meetings during the day, acknowledged here:

Consequently, the Whitby Harbour Users meetings are held in an evening at the Harbour Master’s Office in Whitby. On the face of it a sensible arrangement.

The Terms of Reference that Nick Edwards chose to insert into the Scarborough version are here:

As a result, the Scarborough meetings were poorly attended, and struggled to meet the minimum number of representatives (the ‘quorum’) necessary to achieve any meaningful dialogue at all.

Nick Edwards refuses to accept the fact that Scarborough Harbour Users Group, in turn, declines to accept the Terms of Reference that SBC forced upon Whitby Harbour Users, which served no purpose other than to force through a repetition of the catastrophic failure that was the Whitby Harbour Board.

As a result Nick Edwards, in a fit of pique, has suspended any consultation meetings with the Scarborough Harbour Users Group, and has not met with these stakeholders since July 2015.

Shame on him!

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