Roland Duce, managing director of Benchmark Leisure Ltd, who are developing the Water Park with a £9million loan from Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), made the following statement to the Scarborough News, which was reported on 23rd September 2014:
“We have submitted details of the operating regime to the licensing officers of the council and a planning application looking to vary the planning condition on opening hours has also been made.”
Mr Duce doesn’t appear to be an officer of Alpamare UK Ltd, so quite why his company is submitting documents such as the operating regime on behalf of the company is puzzling.
Mr Duce’s comments suggest the operating regime for the proposed water park attraction was submitted to the council after the closing date for public submissions regarding the licensing application, 12th September 2014.
The planning application Mr Duce refers to in his statement was dated 26th September 2014 and verified as being received by the council on the 27th September 2014.
Quite how members of the public are supposed to comment on the Alpamare UK Ltd licensing application when important documents such as the operating regime were not available before the closing date is anyone’s guess. Despite being aware of the matter, Licensing Services at SBC have yet to comment.
A Licensing Sub-Committee is comprised of three councillors who will decide upon the licensing application. A fourth councillor, who in this case is Cllr Martin Smith, will act as a substitute in case one of the three councillors scheduled to attend the hearing do not turn up.
A check of full council meeting minutes from the 9th September 2013 reveal that three of the four councillors, Cllr Simon Green (Conservative), Cllr Martin Smith (Conservative) and Cllr Helen Mallory (Conservative) voted for the Conservative motion to loan Benchmark Leisure Ltd £9million of public money to build the North Bay water park.
It could be said the three Conservative councillors have predetermined the decision, given the Conservative motion to loan the £9million to Benchmark was voted for almost entirely by Conservatives. If the license is refused, it would be a disaster for the local Conservatives. Do they have an ace in the hole?
Simon Green, formerly an Independent until two weeks ago, has just joined the Conservative Party. When asked about his motivation for switching to the Conservatives Cllr Green is quoted:
“I have always been Conservative but there has never been an opening in the Cayton ward”
This is not strictly true. Cllr Green could have declared himself a Conservative after he won the seat in the 2011 election. Green didn’t need to wait until he was due to sit on the most important Licensing Sub-Committee hearing for the local Conservative Party in this council term.
It is also interesting to note that SBC have listed Cllr Martin Smith as a substitute councillor for the licensing hearing, as Smith lives close to the proposed development in the North Bay ward.
In a recent meeting of the Yorkshire Coast and Moors Committee of North Yorkshire County Council, an item on the agenda was to make a decision on the implementation of a residents parking scheme in Whitby.
Two Whitby county councillors, David Chance and Joe Plant, were forced to declare a pecuniary interest in the item by NYCC legal officers and they were not allowed to participate in that portion of the meeting. Perhaps Cllr Smith will be making such a declaration before the hearing.
It is also interesting to note that the Licensing Sub-Committee is listed as a politically balanced committee within the SBC Constitution. Looking at councillors who have decided upon licensing applications in recent times, it is plainly obvious that the ratio of Conservatives and Independents that are deciding upon applications is far higher than their actual political representation on the council, despite Cllr Green’s recent switch to the Conservatives.
One wonders why the council officer responsible for ensuring political balance across all relevant committees has not been diligent in his or her endeavours to ensure the Licensing Sub-Committee remains balanced? Would it be because the council is loaning Benchmark Leisure Ltd £9million to build the North Bay water park?