SIDDONS’ Duplicity Exposed
Guest Author Alderman NORMAN MURPHY spills the beans on the best-kept secret behind the much-resented demolition of the Futurist Theatre. Yet another “nothing could be further from the truth” episode – and another brick in the wall of Disrepute?
I don’t think that there will be many Scarborough ratepayers who haven’t, long ago, come to the conclusion that the current leader of Sleezborough Council, Labour’s Steve “It’s a Dog’s Breakfast” Siddons, is an incompetent, duplicitous, deluded and arrogant ruler.
Siddons’ rule has, in fact, as many people have pointed out, been nothing but a total disaster for Scarborough and the wider Borough.
Indeed, it would not, perhaps, be an over-exaggeration to say that Siddons and his loony left cronies are currently about as popular in Scarborough as a t*rd in a swimming pool.
So it came as something of a surprise when recently a few posts started to appear on social media pages posted by people actually trying to defend the leadership of Siddons and his loony pals. The posts were, in the main, incoherent drivel and it did not take long to discover that the people posting them were, in fact, Labour Party supporters – loony left TROLLS.
These TROLLS tried to justify some of Siddons’ ridiculous policies – like the ARGOS scam and the ill-conceived Harbours Masterplan, both of which, if they were allowed to go ahead, would see millions of pounds of ratepayers’ money being squandered on what can only be described as Siddons’ vanity projects.
Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, it quickly became evident from the responses of normal residents that virtually nobody was buying the TROLLS clap-trap; the propaganda they were pedalling soon died away.
However, although the TROLLS’ attempts to support Siddons were, quite rightly, in the main, dismissed, there was one issue they highlighted which I feel should be countered and that is their claim that it was the Tories, and the Tories alone, who were responsible for the demolition of the Futurist Theatre.
What the Labour TROLLS were claiming was that Siddons and the Labour Group had nothing to do with the demolition of the Futurist Theatre, never supported the destruction of the Futurist and that it was all the work of those rotten Tories.
Now, let’s get the elephant out of the room here and now. It was, indeed, the Conservative administration that ultimately ordered that the wrecking-ball should smash the Futurist to pieces.
You will get no argument from me on this point. I was there and I fought them all the way, so I know; though agreed, the Tories were ultimately responsible for the final act of destruction.
However, no-one should be under any illusion that Labour’s hands, and in particular Siddons’ hands, are clean when it comes to the demolition of the Futurist Theatre.
The origins of the Council’s desire to demolish the Futurist are, in fact, to be found in reports written way back in 1995/6 when Labour was in power.
As some of you may recall, in 1995, on the back of the Labour revival created by the election of Tony Blair, Labour in the Borough of Scarborough achieved an unexpected overall majority on the Council. For the first time ever, Labour were in control of Scarborough Borough Council.
The new Labour administration displayed, however, right from the very start of their term in office, that they had a rather low opinion of the local tourist industry.
Indeed, I think it would be fair to say that, despite their pre-election promises that they would help the local tourism industry, in fact, they did nothing to improve things.
As Labour’s time in office progressed, nothing much improved in their relationship with the local tourism industry and it therefore came as no surprise when they suddenly brought before the old Leisure Committee a proposal to demolish the Futurist Theatre.
So let’s be clear; it is a matter of public record that the first proposal to demolish the Futurist Theatre was made by a Labour administration. Fortunately, Labour’s term in office was short and, as might be expected, was a total shambles and although they wanted to demolish the Futurist, they simply ran out time.
Needless to say, perhaps, the Labour administration of 1995/99 was a total disaster for the Borough and it came as no surprise to anyone, except maybe the totally out of touch and arrogant local Labour leadership, that at the 1999 local elections, they were un-ceremoniously booted out of power.
Now at this point, 1999, I came into the picture. The decline of the tourism industry in the Borough and, in particular, the proposal to demolish the Futurist had so annoyed me that I decided to try for a seat on the Council – which I duly won.
Nonetheless, despite my victory as an Independent, the Conservative’s had a small majority and once again took control of the Council.
The Tories did not, however, press ahead with Labour’s plan to demolish the Futurist. Instead, they set up a Working Group and I was a member of that Group.
Now, contrary to popular belief, there was no rush, at that time, to demolish the Futurist. The Theatre was, in fact, experiencing something of a revival and not doing bad at all. This made it difficult to justify demolishing it.
Nonetheless, the threat of closure and demolition continually hung over the Futurist. Indeed, this threat continued for the next fourteen years. Over that period, I sat on numerous Committees and Working Groups, all tasked with deciding what to do with the Theatre; should it be saved or should it be demolished?
However, over that fourteen year period there was a marked difference of opinion between the various Groups on the Council on what we should be done with the Futurist.
The Conservatives were split every which way. Some favoured demolition and some wanted the Theatre saved. The INDEPENDENTS consistently sided with the ‘Save The Futurist Group’ and wanted to save the Theatre. However, the Labour Group never wavered; they were consistently in favour of demolition.
As far as demolishing or saving the Futurist was concerned, this divergence of opinion, as might be expected, caused dither and delay and no decision, one way or the other, was made.
However, as 2014 progressed, it started to become apparent that the Tories were moving towards demolition.
Now at the time, this subtle change in attitude towards the Futurist was not really understood by those of us who wanted to save the Futurist.
It has now, however, come to light that the Tories’ increased determination to demolish the Futurist was based on A SECRET DEAL they had done with Siddons and his Labour cronies, in which they had both agreed to support demolition.
Although at the time we did not know it, hush-hush talks had been taking place between the two Group leaders and they had agree to work collectively towards demolishing the Futurist.
And, although never publicly confirmed by Siddons, we know that this deal had been done because Siddons, in late December 2014, wrote to Garry Mills, one of his constituents, and stated:
Please accept my apologies for the lateness of reply. I was awaiting this issue to come to Planning Committee before responding.
Myself and the Labour Group have long held the belief that the Futurist building is not fit for re-instatement.
I therefore support the proposal to demolish the existing building and replace it with a suitable redevelopment proposal. I am aware of the Theatre Trust comments and the community proposals.
So, to be clear, Siddons and the Labour Group were committed every bit as much as the Tories to demolishing the Futurist.
This Tory/Labour collusion, although we did not know the extent of it at the time, continued unwaveringly for the next three years.
Now, if we spin forward to the end of 2016, Tory plans to demolish the Futurist had progressed and they began to move confidently towards demolition.
This Tory mood of confidence, however, surprised us Independents as we thought that Labour, realising how unpopular the demolition of the Futurist would be electorally, had moved over to the anti-demolition camp.
Little did we know how wrong we were.
Although at the time kept top secret, the Tories were, in fact, having more hush-hush talks with Siddons and, as you can see from this statement I got from Derek Bastiman recently, their confidence was based on Siddons’ continued agreement to support demolition of the Futurist.
Alderman Murphy I can confirm that:
A. Siddons did confirm in a conversation with me that he would support demolition.
B. [And I can further confirm that] Those Labour members mentioned [Eric Broadbent, David Billing and John Ritchie] did say that at County Hall, prior to a Members’ Seminar, we joked with them that they would be going to the meeting at the YMCA to support you and others.
However, none of us knew about the backstairs deal and myself, and many others, were still working on the assumption that Siddons and his Labour Group wanted to save the Futurist.
Indeed, I myself had spoken to several Labour members at that time and they all indicated that they were supporters of saving the Theatre. However, they were, in fact, as we now know, conspiring with the Tories to demolish the Futurist.
Nonetheless, in the real world, support for saving the Futurist was growing. And at meetings such as the one mentioned by Bastiman at the YMCA, residents made it clear that they did not want the Futurist demolishing and told anyone who would listen that they would pay a high price electorally if they voted for demolition.
However, the Tories did not care about what the electorate thought and considered that demolishing the Futurist would not damage them electorally as Labour would vote the same way as them and the electoral fall-out would spread evenly between them – no damage done, as both Groups would be equally held to blame.
And so, as the Tories went into the Council Chamber for the final vote, they were confident that Siddons and the LABOUR Group would support them.
But, of course, the Tories were very wrong.
Siddons had realised that supporting the ‘Save the Futurist Group’ would be electorally popular and so he opted to stab the Tories in the back. Nothing new there.
So, to be crystal clear, the Labour Group, and especially Siddons, were always in favour of demolishing the FUTURIST THEATRE and – to quote Flamingo Land’s Gordon Gibb – saying that SIDDONS was on the side of the ‘Save The Futurist’ campaign “could not be further from the truth”.
Siddons voted to save the Futurist for electoral gain.
What is perhaps closer to the truth, however, is that I am hearing that a certain building company in TUSCANY has nearly finished a luxury villa, so now might be a good time for someone to exit stage left.
No point in sticking around like ‘Gluey’ Norton and risk having your collar felt.