Wednesday 18th October 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

SBC Embezzles £150k?

On Monday 4th September 2017, a Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) meeting was held at the Town Hall, St Nicholas St, Scarborough. SBC agreed to take £150,000 from the Special Parking Account (SPA) and give it to the Amaury Sports Organisation so it could host one day of the 2018 Tour De Yorkshire.

The Council resolved to:

Give approval for the Council to accept Welcome to Yorkshire’s offer to be a host city/town for the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire at a maximum cost of £150,000 to be funded from anticipated surpluses from car parking revenue in the current financial year (2017/18).

The “anticipated surpluses” line in the meeting agenda and meeting minutes raised an eyebrow.

Financial monitoring to the period ended 31 July 2017 shows that, despite poor weather, car parking revenue across the Borough is exceeding target. Current projections anticipate that income will exceed target by £150k in the 2017/18 year.

The efficiency of the SBC Bean Counters predicting such a large surplus nine months before the end of the financial year is not quite the feat you might first think. That’s because the old English “Stand and Deliver!” has been replaced with a new English version of “£4 for 3 Hours!“.

Section 55 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 requires a local authority to set up a ring-fenced account, the Special Parking Account, to manage the income and expenditure from parking.

Section 55 (4) (d) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 details what any parking surplus should be spent on.

If there is any surplus from parking, that surplus may only be spent on transportation. This was confirmed at the High Court in Attfield, R v London Borough of Barnet.

It is a general principle of administrative law that a public body must exercise a statutory power for the purpose for which the power was conferred by Parliament, and not for any unauthorised purpose. An unauthorised purpose may be laudable in its own right, yet still unlawful. The issue is not whether or not the public body has acted in the public interest, but whether it has acted in accordance with the purpose for which the statutory power was conferred. Where a statutory power is exercised both for the purpose for which it was conferred and for some other purpose, the public body will have acted unlawfully unless the authorised purpose was its dominant purpose.

Quite clearly, spending £150,000 from the parking surplus on funding a bike race is unlawful.

The Special Parking Account contains monies for both on-street and off-street parking. Any surplus from on-street parking goes to North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) whilst the off-street surplus goes to SBC. Crazily but importantly, different parts of the Marine Drive are classed as both off-street and on-street parking.

It appears that the decision taken on Monday 4th September 2017 arbitrarily decided to deprive NYCC of their share of “anticipated surpluses” for 2017/18, when monies are normally divided between the two councils.

As readers are aware, a number of Councillors sit on both NYCC and SBC. Those who take an interest in meeting declarations will see that no declarations were made in relation to the Tour De Yorkshire £150,000 agenda item. The Councillors who didn’t declare an interest and leave the meeting are:

Cllr Derek Bastiman (Conservative, SBC Scalby & NYCC Scalby & The Coast)
Cllr Eric Broadbent (Labour, SBC Central & NYCC Northstead)
Cllr David Chance (Conservative, SBC Mayfield & NYCC Whitby Mayfield cum Mulgrave)
Cllr Liz Colling (Labour, SBC Falsgrave & NYCC Falsgrave & Stepney)
Cllr David Jeffels (Conservative, SBC Derwent Valley & NYCC Seamer & Derwent Valley)
Cllr Janet Jefferson (Independent, SBC Castle & NYCC Castle)
Cllr Andrew Jenkinson (Conservative, SBC Newby & NYCC Woodlands)
Cllr Clive Pearson (Conservative, SBC Danby & NYCC Esk Valley)
Cllr Joseph Plant (Conservative, SBC Whitby West Cliff & NYCC Whitby Streonshalh)
Cllr Tony Randerson (Labour, SBC Eastfield & NYCC Eastfield & Osgodby)
Cllr Callum Walsh (Conservative, SBC Weaponness & NYCC Weaponness & Ramshill)
Cllr Roberta Swiers (Conservative, SBC Cayton & NYCC Hertford & Cayton)

Looks like there could be a training course or two in the offing. Perhaps it should start with the SBC Head of Paid Service, Jim Dillon, since it was his report that kicked this agenda item off.

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