Tuesday 31st January 2023,
North Yorks Enquirer

S’borough Town Deal Board: Credibility Sullied

S’borough Town Deal Board: Credibility Sullied

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, disclosing an explosive ‘thread’ of email correspondence between interested parties, on the subject of the proposal to ‘regenerate’ Scarborough West Pier as part of a £20 million grant funding package for Scarborough Town Centre. The content sullies the credibility of the Scarborough Town Deal Board (STDB), whose membership now appears to have been used as blind dupes to rubber-stamp a proposal devoid of any real merit.

~~~~~

Background

In this matter of conspicuous public interest, I regard it a matter of duty to place in the public domain the following (lengthy) round of correspondence between certain members of the public (Mr James CORRIGAN, Mr John SENIOR MBE, Mr Bob ROBERTS, Mr Peter LEE & Mr Peter WILKINSON) and a voting member of the Scarborough Town Deal Board, Mr Richard GRUNWELL. It begs the question:

  • When will SBC convene a public meeting with the STDB to allow proper public scrutiny of the West Pier ‘regeneration’ proposal?

Perhaps not until a significant number of Harbour users glue themselves to the West Pier.

But first, some background information on the West Pier ‘regeneration’ proposals.

The Scarborough Town Deal Board (STDB) comprises the following voting members, only a handful of whom are names in the public awareness; even less live in Scarborough; less still hold Harbour or maritime credentials:

[Mike GREENE is no longer associated with the Borough and will presumably resign his seat].

As far as I can determine, the only voting members to enjoy a public mandate in the form of votes from members of the electorate, in a bona fide election, are Sir Robert GOODWILL [Con.] and Councillor Steve SIDDONS [Lab.]. The remainder, I believe, are mere appointees, including members of Paid Service (Richard FLINTON and Mike GREENE).

My point being that democracy is extremely thin on the ground in the Town Deal Board.

So is experience. As far as I can determine, none of the above can claim even a modest knowledge of Scarborough Harbour and none seems aware that the West Pier, though not part of the Town Centre, is in desperate need of structural restoration and enhanced over-topping protection (from the consequences of the ‘climate emergency’ solemnly declared by SBC, at the proposal of Councillor Theresa ‘Gluey’ NORTON [Unaff.], when she was still a Labour member, virtue-signalling a Green agenda).

Also noteworthy is the following SBC Officer’s Decision Notice, dated 1st July 2022, granting the then s.151 Officer [Finance Director], now CEO & HoPS, Mr Nick EDWARDS, the authority to establish project budgets for the scheme; and authority to the Monitoring Officer (Legal Director) [Mrs Lisa DIXON], in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Growth (and nominal Deputy Leader), Councillor Liz COLLING [Lab.Co-Op.], to enter into the contracts for the schemes (West Pier ‘regeneration’):

£636K of the public purse splurged on a madcap project (almost universally opposed by the Harbour community) that is unlikely ever to come to fruition, with Councillor COLLING the only elected member to leave any fingerprints on the jobby.

I note, in passing, that Councillor Janet JEFFERSON [Ind.], who is both Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources and elected member for Castle Ward (which includes the Harbour and its environs), is conspicuously absent from this junta.

No fingerprints from Councillor SIDDONS, either, but make no mistake . . . “The Leader wants it”.

The Damning Correspondence

I present the following thread of email correspondence as it came to me from a number of sources. It appears in reverse chronological order because that is the way the email ‘thread’ happens to be formatted. Without reading the entire ‘thread’, it quickly becomes clear that STDB voting member Mr Richard GRUNWELL is deeply troubled – as well he should be – by the facts placed at his disposal and conscious of the need to take the bull by the horns. As a retired solicitor, Mr GRUNWELL can be relied upon to act with integrity. Certainly, he must be well able to recognise the ramifications.

The chief significance of the ‘thread’ lies in the fact that it makes apparent – to any unbiased observer – the mind-numbing ignorance (their only defence) of people entrusted to act in the best interests of the community they represent who, at the same time, seem to have been willing to take on trust any amount of phantasmagorical blather from SBC, provided only that it is well laid out on a piece of paper and bears the signature of a supposedly unimpeachable paid public servant. During the course of its Board Meetings, the West Pier ‘regeneration’ proposal received barely a mention.

In my view, the STDB has been suckered and now stands party to a plan to sucker the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) – whose Minister, be it noted, is replaced about as often as a policeman turns up at a burglary these days in North Yorkshire – and is therefore susceptible to blarney.

Now read on . . .


From: Bob Roberts
Date: 1 December 2022 at 19:35:29 GMT
To: Richard Grunwell
Subject: Re: West Pier Sheet Piling – UKSF: Infrastructure Scheme’s Round 2

With pleasure Richard, be my guest.

Bob R


On 1 Dec 2022, at 19:21, Richard Grunwell wrote:

Thank you, Bon. I’ve been called into to Town Hall in the morning. Can I show them this?

Richard


On Thu, 1 Dec 2022 at 17:47, Bob Roberts wrote:

Gents,

James makes a very salient point with regard the TDB.

Whilst apart from Richard who when requested actually took the time to meet and listen me from alternative perspective on how carefully chosen members to make up an unelected board that severely influences council decision making, under the guise of making it all seem democratic to those that allegedly oversee the process of delivery into a community i.e. Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC). (Might sound incredulous, but its true.)

Of the town deal board very few, if any, actually have the vaguest idea about the machinations of how the harbour actually operates, of how revenue is earnt, of how that revenue is spent or should I say squandered by SBC.  Again, none of TDB have made themselves contactable, so those that are actually invested in the harbour either financially, by heritage or just by having that deep interest in ensuring that the harbour as the beating heart of Scarborough continues to beat, albeit on a very weak pacemaker nowadays, I would wager that 99% of visitors to Scarborough never leave without driving along the harbourside and would include in those visitor numbers, those that visit on business. Apparently has voting right according to the SBC website “Meet the Town Deal Board” !  Apparently, just by having a website list without any means of contacting those same distant voting members is as good as its ever going to get with the “Department for Smoke and Mirrors”  within SBC a.k.a. Regeneration keeping them clearly at arms length and oblivious of what they are supposedly influencing.

When asked, a leading councillor thought that the DLUHC chose the TDB members, apparently not the case when I asked the DLUHC who informed me that SBC convened the TDB, its quite probably even some members of the TDB wonder why they were chosen by SBC who must have scoured their various databases for influential names that in my words surely “know nowt”! Places like Northallerton, Guisborough, York as their places of residence whilst moving to Scarborough in very recent years also gives them the knowledge to play with the livelihoods and the heritage of those who have a generational entitlement to have a say on the future of the port – it’s not all about fish and chips and candy floss that plan will NOT provide the income that the port needs.

Please forgive my cynicism in this very sorry situation that is most likely to end like the Argos fiasco or the Dean Road supermarket  or the North Bay hotel or the Futurist site, or maybe even another High Point Rendall scenario.

Best Regards,

Bob Roberts

Owner  FV Capernaum SH4


From: James Corrigan
Date: Tuesday, 29 November 2022 at 10:56
To: Richard Grunwell
Cc: Peter Wilkinson , Bob Roberts , John Senior , Peter Lee , Tom Fox
Subject: Re: West Pier Sheet Piling – UKSF: Infrastructure Scheme’s Round 2

Thank you Richard

Before I sent you Bob’s emails I sought his permission which he gave freely.

I would have sent those emails directly to all TD Board members but those details have and are deliberately been kept from us.

Whilst we do know a small handful of board members and could send them individually through personal connections requesting they shared them with fellow Board Members. However circumnavigating the obstacle intentionally placed to prevent community representatives from communicating directly with the Board makes the point far greater than I could put into words.

Peter Lee went to great lengths requesting contact details to share a substantial and referenced document that scrutinised and highlighted the failings and breaches of TD delivery to comply with DLUHC rules. An attempt in vain. Not even a bespoke finite email such as board@Scarboughtowndeal.org or similar. A simple mechanism, indeed a minimum I would suggest to allow contact with the Chair or Secretary of the board by the very people it was convened to represent, that could have easily been provided and hosted by the ‘responsible authority for delivery’!

As with Peter’s document, as with Bob’s latest referenced emails. Both are of paramount importance that the Board are in knowledge of these and other issues in the interest of ensuring the TD Funding, public money, is protected by the Board.

The very reason for the Board’s terms of reference no less, a duty and obligation as clearly stated in the Boards terms of reference. (I assume board members representing statutory bodies have indemnity cover as a matter of course of employment but I do wonder if this extends, or was offered to the private individuals giving their time freely to represent us and our community, in good faith on this exclusive and unreachable Town Deal Board?

If the limited commentary in the published Board Minutes (including those present) are anything to go by, the scrutiny and debate afforded to West Pier resembles that of a mere afterthought, not as stated multiple times by the current Council Leader as the “Town Deal flagship project”.

Having had a front row seat, and previously played key roles in our towns numerous regeneration projects I fear history is highly likely to repeat itself once again on West Pier, just as it did with the Coastal Defence and Harbour Coastal Defence Works (aka the Marine Drive fiasco) just 50m away.

You will recall Eileen Bossomworth, then leader of the council with a very red face following John Trebbles failure to suppress the findings of Richard Penn’s independent enquiry report [here], when she publicly stated “lessons must be learned”

Had those now in statutory positions at the authority responsible for delivery been around at the time of the Marine Drive fiasco (except the recently appointed Acting CE and Senior Officer responsible for Harbours) those “lessons learned” would have been remembered. Fortunately we were, and certainly have not forgotten and we will not stand by idly and allow it to happen again.

Yet more evidence to demonstrate the failings of the current board’s ignorance in having little or no understanding of the town, it’s citizens or history.

I suspect they are completely unaware of this nationally humiliating disaster which is actually in fact only recent history to us. This has Private Eye written all over it.

I will send on a copy of the Penn Report under separate cover.

The difference between the then Highpoint Rendal Coastal Defence works and the pending projects promoted by the Town Deal Board is that this time we are watching and those responsible are on notice.

2 questions I request you put to the Board to further demonstrate the point. “Has any community representatives ever been invited to meet the Board?” And “Is the Board aware that West Pier proposals have never been an agenda item for the Castle Ward Residents Association to be discussed. IE consulted?

There not even been a presentation to this, the largest, longest established Residents Association in the Borough that covers the whole of the Town Center and Harbour, home to many of the fishing families living in the Old Town it covers. Interestingly this association is chaired by our Ward Councillor who is also Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Harbours, Chair of Chamber of Trade and Commerce representing town center retailers!

Hopefully ego’s and CV building by people mainly not from here and certainly not risking a pound of their own. Hopefully there is still time bin the universally despised West Pier project and redirect these monies (without the necessity of additional internal top-up funding) be where the community wants it and the Town needs it, a oven ready project on the site where SBC failed to deliver a block of bedsits against the collective will of the residents. A Town Square is the one and only Deal for the Town that already benefits from our community’s support and would then allow the Market Hall to belatedly benefit from the millions already spent regenerating it last decade. Or put another way, let them finish another old town regeneration project before commencing regeneration projects elsewhere.

Whilst writing this I am conscious of my criticism of the administration and conduct of the Board. I wish to put on record that I, and others, many whom you have worked with for decades and you consider long established friends, do not include you in that critique. Your personal endeavours to engage with us with a view to mediate and find solutions are to be commended. I say without fear of contradiction we are all extremely grateful, thank you.

You have my absolute consent to share this email with whom ever you consider it of interest, the Board being one. I would certainly be prepared to make myself available to give evidence in the future should the necessity arise.

Kindest regards

James


On 28 Nov 2022, at 15:39, Richard Grunwell wrote:

All,

Thank you for copying me in on this. Without your consent, I will, of course, treat your comments as confidential.

On the other hand, there may be some merit in sharing these with Council Officers and Town Deal board members to illustrate the strength of feeling.

Please let me know if I may do that.

Richard


On Mon, 28 Nov 2022 at 11:36, Peter Wilkinson wrote:

Hi James/John

Further to John’s response, thank you for keeping us in the loop, without doubt we need to immediately address the seriousness of the challenges facing Scarborough’s harbour asap.

As John emphasises “it’s a key duty to sort it!!

Best

Peter


On 28 Nov 2022, at 09:20, John Senior wrote:

Thanks for updating us James. Bob’s letter highlights a number of serious issues the most singular being that this is not a way to treat  our ageing  and broken harbour!

No more patches no more sticking plasters no more fibbing  …as the government like to remind us …..See it, say it, sorted… well, we have seen it ….we have said it….. now please do your duty and sort it!

Yours and regards

John S


On 27 Nov 2022, at 19:26, James Corrigan wrote:

Hopefully this will be throughly debated at upcoming Town Deal Board meeting.


Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Roberts
Date: 27 November 2022 at 17:56:05 WET
To: Liz Colling
Cc: Chris Burrows , Janet Jefferson <Cllr.Janet.Jefferson@scarborough.gov.uk>, Derek Bastiman <cllr.derek.bastiman@northyorks.gov.uk>, David Caulfield <David.Caulfield@northyorks.gov.uk>, “GOODWILL, Robert” <robert.goodwill.mp@parliament.uk>
Subject: West Pier  Sheet Piling – UKSF: Infrastructure Scheme’s Round 2

Dear Councillor Colling,

As you are aware SBC intend allocating £1.35m toward repairing the sheet piling within the corroded section of West Pier, where it appears severe corrosion has taken place since the piling was installed in the 1980’s.

As a member of the Scarborough Harbour Users Group at the last meeting we were  informed by the Harbour Master as part of his report, that the proposed refurbishment of the piling was to take place under a  patch repair/patch philosophy by SBC rather than undertaking the full replacement, which would give some 50 years life span to the structural integrity of the pier over as opposed to a dubious 10 years or probably less for the repair patch proposal. This approach left some members alarmed as to why a responsible authority would adopt such a short-sighted approach to this serious issue facing the future of the port.

Since then, I am in receipt of an email from DEFRA regarding funding (attached below this thread) inviting local authorities to apply for funding for infrastructure projects.

Moving on from there I recall that at a full council meeting held on 22nd Feb 2022 in your capacity as Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Growth, you stated that funding for local authorities was not available from the MMO (see following link to your statement on You Tube https://youtu.be/D4GNBLmLzD8).  I believe it was not the case then and certainly  believe it is not the case now, with the following extract from the  MMO Funding website where its specifically states that under the heading:

Who can apply

The following types of organisations can apply for this grant:

The website can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-seafood-fund-infrastructure-scheme#who-can-apply.

The email from DEFRA received Friday 24th November was forwarded on to both the Portfolio Holder for Harbours,  Councillor Jefferson, along with the Harbour Master Chris Burrows. Also copied in were notables from NYC who in time will inherit West Pier in what could be described if the current West Pier plans go ahead in a less than satisfactory condition.

Obviously the as attached below offer for applications comes at a very timely moment since it can offer 2 solutions which would give SBC and ultimately some cost savings over time.

I understand that SBC intend to fund as follows: £900k from Scarborough Harbour Reserves, £150k from a capital budget (previously earmarked for Scarborough Piers) and £300k from the capital Infrastructure budget. This as you are already aware gives a total of £ 1.35 m as allocated.

Consequently, since as I understand it, the invitation as it stands from DEFRA, is for funding of up to £5m, given that we already have some £1.35m allaocated and the DEFRA offers 75% of total costs of repairs to docks and harbour infrastructure and improvements.  Are SBC prepared to make a funding application to DEFRA and undertake a full refurbishment of West Pier sheet piling in a manner that would give a more permanent solution to the problem.

Option 1: ( if SBC is determined to spend the entire £1.35m on West Pier)

  • Greater longevity to the structural integrity of the pier i.e., 50 years quoted as opposed to the possible 10 years before further intervention is required, probably at a much higher cost and by the new authority.
  • Confidence in the integrity of the structural integrity of the pier for those who manage and are responsible for the facility going forward.
  • Value for money, doing this sooner rather than later represents real savings since repairs always have to be replaced eventually with additional investment.
  • Return on investment for those who have paid into the harbour coffers over the years, both commercial and leisure alike who expect harbour reserves to be spent wisely.
  • Hand over to NYC a structure in a good state of repair with an expected life cycle of 50 years plus if well maintained and kept on good order.
  • Support a thriving fishing industry.
  • Optimise public value.
  • Be deliverable.
  • Be deliverable within available funding streams.
  • Contribute to sustainability

Option 2: (if SBC is determined only to undertake the repair/patch scenario:

Apply for funding of £1.35m from DEFRA and contribute just £337.500 (25% of total costings) from SBC funds, representing a significant saving on harbour reserves which is likely to be needed over the years going forward.

Either way both options will require a proactive by SBC approach to DEFRA in the very near future as applications close Feb 3 2023.

Finally, can you confirm that following your statement to me that SBC will take a speedy and proactive approach in applying for funding from the MMO and relieve either or both Harbour Reserves and SBC of the full burden of funding these what are described as essential works?

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Regards,

Bob Roberts

Owner: FV Capernaum SH4.

01723 360 861


From: “SM-Defra-uksfinfrastructure (DEFRA)” <uksfinfrastructure@defra.gov.uk>
Date: Friday, 25 November 2022 at 12:41
Subject: UKSF: Infrastructure Scheme’s Round 2 is open for applications

Dear all,

We would like to share some important news with you regarding the UK Seafood Fund.

We are happy to confirm Round 2 of the Infrastructure Scheme is now open for applications until 3 February 2023.

Competed grant funding is available through the Infrastructure Scheme. The scheme will fund projects that improve the UK seafood sector supply chain through investment in improved capability at ports, harbours, processing, and aquaculture facilities.

Each successful applicant will be awarded a minimum of £150,000 and maximum of £5 million.

For more information on how to apply through the UK Fisheries Support System (UKFSS), please see the scheme guidance Invitation to Apply (ITA) and any supporting documents on the UK Seafood Fund: Infrastructure Scheme webpage. Here, you can also find the successful projects that have been funded through Round 1.

For any further assistance please register on the UKFSS to ask a question. Our user guide video can assist you with how to register, submit your application and ask a question.

Thank you,

UK Seafood Fund Team


What SIDDONS wants . . .

What the Bottom End wants . . .

NO-BRAINER!


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