SBC: The Leader’s Blotted Briefing
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, commenting on the words of wisdom published by our inglorious Leader.
SBC Leader Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] has published what amounts to his emulation of ‘The Queen’s Speech’; his summary of a year seen by many as one of unprecedented disrepute for Scarborough Borough Council – with more spin on it than a humming-top. “Bend it like Bastiman”.
For ease of discernment, Derek’s comments are displayed in cursive type, hard up to the left margin, whereas my interpretations/opinions are indented to the right, set in blue type. Derek may disagree with my opinions but he cannot prevent me from airing them.
DB: “It is often said that we all need to do more to inspire and support our country’s young people, as they are, after all, our future. This is especially true in local democracy, which I believe has a responsibility to engage with young people, not only through the elections process, but in everyday democratic decisions that affect us all and the borough in which we live.”
NW: Derek’s vision of engagement with young people – and, indeed, with all members of the public – is reflected in the Council’s policy of making a rose-tinted spectacle of itself on social media by blocking critical input and/or penetrating questions from its Twitter feed and Facebook wall. Small wonder that we have an out-of-touch Council filled with codgers and crones.
DB: “It was therefore fantastic to see the enthusiasm for the Youth Council event that we held last month. 16 to 18 year olds from across the Borough of Scarborough representing Scarborough Air Cadets 739 Squadron, 4th Scarborough Boys Brigade and Scarborough Explorer Scouts-Young Leaders got the chance to act as councillors for an evening and quiz Cabinet members on youth participation in democracy.”
“It was certainly no walk in the park for us and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the confident young people that took part in the debate go on to a career in politics! Look out for similar events we plan to hold in the future and please do your bit to encourage the young people you know to take part.”
NW: “Quiz Cabinet members”, eh? I was not present at the event, nor have I seen a webcast nor even published notes or minutes. I am waiting for the Leader to tell us how Cabinet members reacted to questions about the ethical and legal connotations of predetermined voting on The Futurist demolition; the Monitoring Officer’s inability to locate Covenants located by a member of the public in 45 minutes; the commissioning of the Council’s own auditors to conduct a spurious ‘external’ investigation into the Ben MARRIOTT fraud and corruption allegations (endorsed by a Judge); the undocumented ‘external legal advice’ relied upon to allow the Leader, his spouse and his seven Portfolio Holders to vote in their own favour on the No Confidence motion; the award-winning Finance Officer who oversaw the granting of a £9M unsecured loan to Benchmark; the illegal interception of Councillors’ correspondence . . . it has been such an annus excrementis for Councillor BASTIMAN that I could go on almost indefinitely. No doubt any youngsters who asked any such questions – which are of no less consequence to youngsters as to any other demographic – were provided with open, transparent, spontaneous words of truth. But not in this life.
DB: “While I am pleased to report that site preparation has begun on the Futurist site in Scarborough and demolition is due to begin by early March, the council will now be concluding actions to recoup the costs it incurred in defending the legal challenge from the ‘Save the Futurist’ supporters group. In effect these were costs borne by the council tax payer and we will be taking steps to ensure these costs are recovered in full. It is disappointing to say the least that the group has failed to comply with the terms of the Court Order requiring them to pay these costs and we will be taking the appropriate action to ensure the legal judgment is rightly upheld.”
NW: Incredible. Having predetermined, years ago, that The Futurist should be demolished, and having nevertheless been permitted to vote, thus narrowly (22:21) – and only with the help of Labour traitor Councillor Vanda INMAN [Lab.>Ind.] (“The Woman Who Condemned The Futurist“) – securing the desired result, the Leader now wishes to pursue, with typical vindictiveness and malice, a few private individuals who gave freely of their time and money, in the public interest – so the Council might perhaps recoup some of the scores of thousands thrown away defending the indefensible in the Ben MARRIOTT Employment Tribunal case. This may have been what Councillor Tom FOX [Con.] had in mind when he talked about “threat and retaliation”. You are a cad, Derek, a bounder and an utter disaster. You have contemptuously dismissed the opinions of two-and-a-half thousand petitioners whose vote of No Confidence was founded chiefly on their heartfelt and informed opposition to the ‘demolition’ initiative – and now you want your pound of flesh?
Councillor Vanda INMAN [Lab.>Ind.] – “The Woman who Condemned The Futurist”[cont.]
DB: “The council has recently been criticised by some of its own councillors for the way in which emails from unreasonable complainants are handled. Again this is disappointing when those councillors approved the policy in relation to this to protect our staff and elected members. Our policy on this process is clear. Such behaviour is dealt with by a simple, overt, and reasonable practice, which is in operation throughout the public sector for the protection of not only staff and councillors, but also to protect limited resources and ensure the council’s ability to correspond with its customers and deliver its services is not hindered. We will continue to take all reasonable steps, as laid out in the policy, to comply with our legal and moral responsibility to look after our staff and members.”
NW: What a pile of unmitigated drivel. Neither Councillors nor members of staff require “protection” from a few thousand black pixels on a white computer screen. Sticks and stones may break your bones but pixels never hurt you. I have reported elsewhere that not one of the many copy-emails I hold sent in by people who have been ‘deemed’ by ‘the Council’ (by whom, exactly?) to be ‘vexatious’ or to be an ‘unreasonably persistent complainant’ has ever used foul language or uttered an insult – much less a hollow threat. Despite Derek’s protestations (or, rather, Jim DILLON’s – because Derek has no idea of his own what the law [the law – not internal Council policy] has to say on the interception of emails), every reasonable adult knows that spying by the ‘authorities’ on private communications is indicative of a STASI or KGB mentality – defensive, authoritarian, fearful and, frankly, vulgar. Unacceptable at every level. And, not coincidentally, the same sequence of adjectives one might accurately apply to the ‘directing mind’ behind this breach of human rights.
DB: “Back to community news; the improvement programme at Eastside Park in Whitby is almost complete and we look forward to celebrating the opening of the exciting facilities for children and young people of all ages in early 2018.”
NW: Ah, Whitby! Land of ‘jam tomorrow’! But no mention of the legal action taken by the Fight 4 Whitby group against SBC over its sequestration of Whitby Harbour revenues since the year dot – or the ‘top secret’ payment (reputedly £2M) received in consideration of Jeremy CLARKSON’s ‘Grand Tour’ filming location on Endeavour Wharf, which has prevented MAZARS (partners in crisis) from signing off the SBC accounts for the past two years – with another one looming.
And, speaking of ‘community news’, what about the non-materialisation of the Women’s Refuge planned for Danes Dyke – the one that the Leader so much wanted to bring to fruition?
Equally conveniently, the South Cliff and Weaponess community also escapes mention – and thereby skirts any contention, though there is, in fact, much contention, as the Scarborough News has reported:
And here is the letter, from page 30:
“Only the good news”, is it, then, Derek? The Eastside Park? Or is it more a case of “the only good news”?
DB: “The construction of permanent decking over the lake at Scarborough Open Air Theatre will start next year and will be finished in time for the venue’s summer opening. Bringing the audience closer to the stage is key to attracting a wide variety of big name acts and that has already become clear in the four acts announced so far for 2018; Gary Barlow, The Script, Il Divo and Steps. Stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks!”
NW: If “bringing the audience closer to the stage” is so “key”, why has an army of consultants, advisors and business plan confabulators written tens of thousands of words, at unimaginable cost, yet never before identified that “key” element? Is the cabin boy steering the ship? Or the cat? The truth is that, like so many of the Council’s entrepreneurial (mis)adventures, the Open Air Theatre has been an unmitigated loser from the outset, despite Town Hall staff moonlighting to leaven the overheads.
Lisa (extreme right) and ‘the gang’ at the OAT VIP Check-In[cont.]
DB: “Barrowcliff Big Local Partnership continues to make noticeable strides in improving the life of those living in the Barrowcliff community. The partnership has just launched a Business Loan Scheme to enable residents to either start up a new business or grow an existing business. The project is being run in-conjunction with South Yorkshire Credit Union to offer affordable loans of up to £5,000 to residents that would not ordinarily qualify for a business loan through the usual channels. Applicants must live in the Barrowcliff Big Local area but the business can operate either within or outside of that boundary. Applicants have to submit a business plan to a panel made up of Big Local members and business support advisors for approval, before making a formal loan application to the Credit Union.”
“The partnership also runs a Small Grant Scheme for local groups and organisations to bid into, to support the delivery of their Big Local Plan, and it is about to launch a three-year initiative with UK charity, UnLtd, to offer support and awards to social entrepreneurs in the area, which will be known locally as ‘Barrowcliff BIG Stars’.”
NW: Credit where credit is due. This is a really positive initiative. However, the credit is due not to the Leader, or even to the Cabinet or the Council, but to the committed efforts of Councillor Billy CHATT [Ind.] and Mr Roy BLENKIN, Chair of Barrowcliff Big Local. Well done, chaps! Bravo! But you did deserve an acknowledgement from our less-than-gracious Leader.
Councillor Bill CHATT [Ind.]
And, on the subject of granting a little recognition to the good work of colleagues, what about giving Councillor Mike COCKERILL [Ind.] a well-deserved mention for his magnificent work in overseeing the loss of both Blue Flags, assuring Scarborough of the worst bathing water reputation in the country?
Or Councillor Joe PLANT [Con.], for his sensitivity and compassion for a vulnerable colleague? (Plenty more in the locker on that disgraceful episode and I will not keep readers waiting for long).
Your “Christmas Message”, Derek – like everything else you touch – is a cover-up and a sham. Why not clear your desk and do us all a favour? The plain fact is, you are far too small to fill Tom’s boots – and everybody knows it.
DB: “Don’t forget, for more information about the council and to access the many services we provide, even during the holiday period, go online at www.scarborough.gov.uk
“Finally, I would like to wish everyone in the borough a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2018.”
NW: Don’t forget, for more information about the Council and to access factual accounts of its modus operandi, even during the holiday period, make the North Yorks Enquirer your Homepage.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone in the Borough the compliments of the season and all the very best for 2018 – a cluster of by-elections would get us off to a good start.