A Letter to the Editor from SBC Councillor Michelle DONOHUE-MONCRIEFF [Ind.Ind.] – the elected member at the heart of the current scandal surrounding SBC Chief Exec Jim DILLON’s abuse of ‘power’ – offering a balanced critique of the recently published Leader and Cabinet Members’ Briefing (July 2018) – see below. Readers will recognise many of her views as coinciding with opinions regularly aired here on the Enquirer.
To the editor,
As a serving Councillor on Scarborough Borough Council I received a copy of a newsletter entitled, ‘Leader and Cabinet Members’ Briefing’ from the council’s Communications Officer. In my view the briefing crossed the line into party political activity by officers. I shared my views with other Councillors only to meet a wall of silence.
Perhaps, I am the only Councillor who can see that this is inappropriate used of taxpayer funded resources at Scarborough Borough Council. If there are others who are concerned they have a duty to speak up as we have entered very dangerous territory where officers are clearly not willing or able to resist requests to engage in political promotion of the current Leader or his Cabinet.
As we approach the next Scarborough Borough Elections under new Ward Boundaries in May 2019, I would advise the public to be aware of such activities by public bodies. I intend to contest that election in Hertford and to seek a renewed mandate from voters. It is of course, their decision and theirs only as to whether or not I am the person they want in the Council chamber representing them.
I have always believed that Councillors are the servants of the residents of their ward and have a duty to hold the Council and its officers to account on their behalf. Praise should be offered when it is appropriate and criticism when it is warranted. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that too many Councillors see themselves as subservient to officers and there to defend them, even when their residents have been failed.
A democratic mandate from voters is too precious a gift to be undermined by such an approach.
Therefore in the spirit of democratic balance to the Council’s political briefing on behalf of the Leader and his Cabinet, I have emailed fellow SBC Councillors suggesting a few inclusions for the next briefing. Below you will find my suggestions (with some minor alterations):
For balance, why not give the opposition an opportunity to issue a newsletter with their perspective.
It is amazing that officers were able to name check two Conservative councillors (one of them the Leader’s wife) on a Task Group.
Where is the credit for the Labour Councillors who contributed?
Next time can we have a section about being the low wage capital of the country. How many hours on the minimum does it take to buy a Britney Spears ticket?
The failure to build a Women’s Refuge in the Leader’s ward. How about an opinion piece from the Leader himself explaining why he (unlike his predecessor) is doing nothing to resolve this disgrace?
How using council land to build ‘executive housing’ helps the poor on housing waiting lists.
The cabinet being embarrassed into the Living Wage by the opposition.
The cinema that never materialises.
How regeneration means two Premier Inns.
The polluted bathing waters. A handy guide on how many dogs it takes to lose a Blue Flag.
Where the Tour de Yorkshire magic money tree is?
The failure to respond to complaints by members of the public.
Classifying anyone who raises legitimate concerns about the Council as vexatious.
Preventing a councillor from carrying out their democratic mandate.
Or my personal favourite. How about Filey being voted the best beach in the country despite a lack of investment from SBC? Love to see the Cabinet explain that one!
In future, the Scarborough & Whitby Conservative Association should produce its own promotional literature not taxpayers.
The public are not fooled. After all, it is their money we are spending.
Cllr. Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff
Hertford Ward Representative, Hunmanby. 6th August, 2018.
Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of The Conservative Party?