A Letter to the Editor from Richard INESON of Whitby, providing readers with the definitive account of why and how the Whitby Park-&-Ride project is – and has always been – an unmandated, unmitigated administrative disaster.
Dear Mr Editor,
Readers may find the following email of interest:
From: Richard Ineson
Sent: 03 July 2015 13:07
To: Richard Flinton (firstname.lastname@example.org); David Bowe (David.Bowe@northyorks.gov.uk); ‘Cllr.Carl.Les@northyorks.gov.uk‘
Subject: Further secret NYCC meetings in connection with the Park and Ride Scheme
Dear Councillor Les, Mr. Flinton and Mr.Bowe,
I am sure that you are aware of the many comments made by the former Secretary of State for Communities, the Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles, on the matter of openness and transparency in local government and the recent legislation, 2014 No. 2095 LOCAL GOVERNMENT, ENGLAND. The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.
I would like to draw your attention to paragraph 6 in the Local Government Transparency Code 2015, in particular the item headed ‘decision making’.
- This Code ensures local people can now see and access data covering (annex A summarises the publication requirements specified in this Code):
- how money is spent – for example, all spending transactions over £500, all Government Procurement Card spending and contracts valued over £5,000 • use of assets – ensuring that local people are able to scrutinise how well their local authority manages its assets 5. For example, self-financing for council housing – introduced in April 2012 – gave each local authority a level of debt it could support based on the valuation of its housing stock. This Code gives local people the information they need to ask questions about how their authority is managing its housing stock to ensure it is put to best use, including considering whether higher value, vacant properties could be used to fund the building of new affordable homes and so reduce waiting lists. The requirement in paragraphs 38 to 41 builds on existing Housing Revenue Account practices 6 • 6. This Code ensures local people can now see and access data covering (annex A summarises the publication requirements specified in this Code): • how money is spent – for example, all spending transactions over £500, all Government Procurement Card spending and contracts valued over £5,000 • use of assets – ensuring that local people are able to scrutinise how well their local authority manages its assets 5. For example, self-financing for council housing – introduced in April 2012 – gave each local authority a level of debt it could support based on the valuation of its housing stock. This Code gives local people the information they need to ask questions about how their authority is managing its housing stock to ensure it is put to best use, including considering whether higher value, vacant properties could be used to fund the building of new affordable homes and so reduce waiting lists. The requirement in paragraphs 38 to 41 builds on existing Housing Revenue Account practices6 • decision making – how decisions are taken and who is taking them, including how much senior staff are paid, and • issues important to local people – for example, parking and the amount spent by an authority subsidising trade union activity. 5 Nationally, local authorities’ estate (all forms of land and buildings) is estimated, including how much senior staff are paid, and • issues important to local people – for example, parking and the amount spent by an authority subsidising trade union activity.
It has come to my attention that meetings have been held, in recent months, at the offices of the NYCC Highways Department, between members of the public, representing the commercial sector, and officers of NYCC in relation to altering/amending the parking arrangements in connection with the Whitby Park and Ride scheme.
You will remember my previous correspondence on this matter, about decisions being made in relation to the P&R scheme by unelected, unaccountable, unmandated and anonymous people, members of the notorious and thoroughly discredited STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS which, along with members of that other secret body, the The Whitby Traffic Partnership, developed the P&R parking arrangements, in secret, in secret meetings to which the public did not have access, meetings which were not minuted and to which representatives of the local press were not invited.
I copy below, my previous correspondence, dated 16th March, 2015, on this matter :-
There is little wonder that there have been so many complaints about the workings of the Whitby Park and Ride scheme.
The so called ‘public consultations’ which took place, in connection with the proposed scheme, and which should have gone a long way to resolving any problems which might arise with the scheme, were used merely as ‘window dressing’ and the many comments received from the residents of Whitby were ignored, in favour of following a predestined scheme which had been ‘developed’ by the supposedly anonymous members of three secret STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS, and the anonymous members of the secret WHITBY TRAFFIC PARTNERSHIP.
The meetings of the WHITBY TRAFFIC PARTNERSHIP were held in secret with no representatives of the local newspaper present, the members of the WHITBY TRAFFIC PARTNERSHIP are anonymous, unelected, and therefore unmandated, they are also unaccountable; the meetings of the WHITBY TRAFFIC PARTNERSHIP were Chaired by Miss Kenyon, (now Mrs Kenyon-Miller) an Executive member of the Whitby and District Tourism Association, the members of the WHITBY TRAFFIC PARTNERSHIP were involved in the discussions relating to the ‘development’ of the Whitby P&R scheme.
In upholding my complaints against North Yorkshire County Council, in 2013, the Ombudsman stated;
“I consider that the Council failed to establish a STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUP with a balanced membership, there is a preponderance of business people, with few, if any representatives, from local residents who live on the street. This is unfortunate because it gives an impression of bias. I cannot judge how the group acted in practice because there are no minutes of meetings. This is an area which the Council needs to reconsider if it is to use this type of group again.”
Bearing in mind the comments of the Ombudsman in relation to the use of STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS, by NYCC, here is how they were used in connection with the ‘development’ of the park and ride scheme.
The meetings of these groups were held in secret, the minutes/very sketchy notes of their meetings were only made available to me after repeated requests and then only in a redacted form.
The details of the car parking scheme, zone boundaries, number of car parking spaces allocated etc. were decided by three STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS, the members of which were unelected, unmandated, supposedly anonymous, and are unaccountable.
The identities of the members of these SSGs were supposed to be kept secret – the DATA PROTECTION ACT was quoted to me when I asked about this matter. Fortunately, a public spirited person who had access to this information and who could see no credible reason for it to be kept secret, released the information.
The memberships of the three STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS were as follows:-
One entire Stakeholder Steering Group was selected by Cllr Kenyon (now Kenyon-Miller) – an Executive member of the Whitby and District Tourism Association, she also selected the Chairs of the other two groups, there was at least one member of the various tourist associations on each group.
The membership of these groups was supposed to remain confidential.
The minutes/notes of the proceedings of the meetings of these groups were made available, after several requests, in a redacted form and are very sketchy, in any case.
Many people, including myself, say that the tourist associations were over-represented on these groups.
Two of the SSGs had a specific, designated, residents’ representative, who presumably was to present the views of the residents in the particular area covered by those particular SSGs. The east side of Whitby had no designated, specific, resident representation.
The supposedly secret memberships of the three STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS were as follows:-
The Chair of the secret Whitby Traffic Partnership, Conservative Cllr. Jane Kenyon, (also an Executive member of the Whitby and District Tourist Association) in conjunction with Conservative Cllr. Joe Plant, recommended the make up, including choosing the Chairs of the other two groups, of the three SSGs.
The individual Chairs selected the residents’ representatives (please note that the East Side SSG, Chaired by Cllr. D.Clegg) did not have a residents’ representative).
Whitby Town (Parish) Council nominated the Town Council representatives on SSGs 2&3.
Please note that Dalton Peake (Whitby Chamber of Commerce) and Tony Charlton (Whitby Hospitality Association) were appointed to all three STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS.
SSG 1. Sandsend
Chair, Conservative Cllr. Jane Kenyon (also an Executive member of the Whitby and District Tourist Association), Dalton Peake (Whitby Chamber of Commerce), Tony Charlton (Whitby Hospitality Association) Christine Kroebel (Chair, Lythe PC), David Pybus (Residents’ Representative).
SSG 2. West Cliff and Town Centre
Chair, Conservative Cllr. Joe Plant, Dalton Peake (Whitby Chamber of Commerce) Tony Charlton (Whitby Hospitality Association) Cllr. Mike Ward (SBC and Whitby Town Council) Cllr. Dickenson (Whitby Town Council) Barry Brown/Dr.Dunn (Residents’ Representatives).[Please note that I am informed that Barry Brown was never invited to any of the meetings of this group, neither did he receive any documents or help to make any decisions relating to this group].
SSG 3. Church Street/East Side
Chair, Conservative Cllr. D.Clegg (Chair of Capt. Cook Tourist Association), Dalton Peake (Whitby Chamber of Commerce), Tony Charlton (Whitby Hospitality Association), Conservative Cllr. Sandra Turner (SBC), Cllr. Steve Smith/Cllr. Pitts (WTC).[Please note that, unlike the other two groups, there was no residents’ representation on this group. The residents of the East Side of Whitby had no representative on the SSG which supposedly represented their views].
Then there are other aspects of the so called ‘public consultation’ which give cause for concern.
The County Council’s Residents’ Parking Policy which requires that, at the consultation stage, over 50% of all premises (not just 50% of those replying) should be in favour to enable the necessary Traffic Regulation Order to be proceeded with, was not observed/just ignored/suspended.
Objection/comments sent by letter or email, relating to the P&R parking scheme, which were sent to the Whitby area office, were, for some inexplicable reason, excluded from the consultation document prepared for members (Councillors).
The comments/objections, made by the residents of Whitby were merely listed in the agenda of the Area Committee meeting which took place on the 19th of September 2013, and were not discussed or considered, at all, at the meeting, as was also the case at the meeting of the Area Committee which was held on the 3rd October, 2012.
This means that only the views of those members of the public, responding to the consultation document on the official form – the space allowed for comment on this form incidentally, measures 2.5cms x 15.5 cms, were taken into account.
I wrote personally to every member of the Area Committee about the 63 parking space allocation, for the east side parking zone, despite having just come out of hospital having had a triple heart bypass, and was in unspeakable pain whilst doing so, only to have Ruth Gladstone, the committee clerk, tell me that she didn’t realise that I expected a reply.
I thought this to be amazing.
I was unable to actually attend the meeting of the Area Committee held in Gt.Ayton,(hardly a convenient location for any resident of Whitby) because of my weak and painful post operative condition, a matter for which I did send my apologies, this episode, in particular I find extremely distasteful.
I have looked at the agenda and minutes of all of the meetings at which NYCC claim that the various concerns of the public, in relation to the P&R were discussed and can find no evidence that the 63 parking space allocation for the east side parking zone of Whitby was ever discussed.
NYCC have consulted with the public, but they have not paid any attention to any comments/criticism/suggestions from residents, which do not accord with the ‘set in stone’ plans of the NYCC Highways Department and the requirements of the commercial sector.
After the Parking Management ‘public consultation’ and exhibition at the Coliseum, in June, 2010, the comments received during the ‘consultation’ were supposed to be considered by the Coast and Moors Area Committee, this has never been done.
The then Highways Supremo, now retired, Nick West, sent me a list of various associations/ individuals who had been consulted about the proposed parking arrangements, included in this list was ‘ Residents Associations (various)’ when I asked for specific details of these associations he was unable to provide any details other than to say that one individual, a resident, of the Fishburn Park area of Whitby had attended a meeting, but had died during the lengthy consultations.
I enquired of Cllr. Ian Havelock, who is a well respected Town Councillor and long time resident of Whitby and Fishburn Park, if he had any knowledge of this person who supposedly had, until his death, been the representative of the residents of Fishburn Park. He had no knowledge of this person.
I was at the Area Committee meeting on the 3/10/2012, where the many comments/objections were supposedly discussed; about five minutes was spent on the P&R scheme, the comments/objections, were not discussed, I have looked at the minutes – the comments/objections, were not discussed.
Nick West was asked by a member (Councillor) (names not include in the minutes) how much the new application to NYMNPA, for planning permission was going to cost, he ignored the question and went on to say that there would be no problem in getting the planning permission. Nick West also said that ‘the design remained largely unchanged since the original application’ which raises the question of why, if this is so, the planning permission was not merely renewed at a cost of £500.00 instead of submitting a new application which cost £25,000?
The ‘public consultation’ which was supposed to happen in the Spring of 2013 was delayed, I wrote to the Highways Department on the 13th May, and the 28th May, asking when the consultation was going to take place.
When David Bowe replied to me, he told me that the consultation was to take place in mid August (Spring came a little late this year).
“As you will however be aware from previous correspondence this consultation/advertisement is about the details of the parking controls with the Area Committee having already agreed to the general principle of the proposed on-street parking measures to improve traffic management and encourage the use of Park and Ride at their meeting on 3 October 2012.
The Area Committee agreed specifically to look at the issues raised as part of the June 2010 consultation and this included the flexibility to allow resident’s permits to be used in appropriate adjacent zones.”
Despite Mr.Bowe’s assertions, I can assure you that these matters were not discussed at this meeting, I was there, in the company of Cllr. Ian Havelock, who can verify this statement.
As to Mr.Bowe’s statement, “the flexibility to allow resident’s permits to be used in appropriate adjacent zones.”
When I enquired, at the consultation, where these adjacent zones were situated, I was told, that the residents of the east side, would also be able to use Zone A. this was to be, until the chaotic, unfathomable, multi zone, scheme was suddenly cancelled, situated near the cricket ground and centres around Upgang Lane.
In my dictionary, ‘Adjacent’ means, lying near, contiguous. ‘Contiguous’ means, touching, adjoining, neighbouring. ‘Neighbouring’ means, person or thing next to one another.
Zone A was not ‘adjacent’ to the east side of Whitby, and could hardly be considered convenient for the citizens of Whitby, who reside on the east side, especially the elderly and infirm; but they are only residents, and only responsible for paying, via the parking permits and the Council Tax, for this ill considered scheme, which is still only of benefit to the commercial sector in Whitby.
The hoteliers and B&B owners were obviously intended to have the largest share of the car parking, in the town, as was decided upon, by the obviously partisan and supposedly secret, STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS, and the secret Whitby Traffic Partnership.
At the meeting of the Area Committee on 19th September 2013 I presented the following sequence of communications between myself and David Bowe to the Councillors, Council staff and members of the public present.
- In the 2009 consultation document (page 2) it is stated, “it is proposed to introduce several controlled parking zones. These are often known as ‘residents parking zones’ and provide priority for residents to park.”
- Question 3 in the 2010 Whitby and Sandsend parking management consultation questionnaire was :- “Do you support the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents?“
3.On the 10th August 2012, David Bowe stated in an email to me, “the proposals will give priority for these spaces to residents“.
- In the OED ‘priority’ means, having prior claim to consideration, preference in rank, earlier, or antecedent.
- On the 6th September 2013, in an email to me he stated, “The aim of the scheme is to give priority to residents for these spaces”.
6 .On the same date and in the same communication, David Bowe stated, “Guests of holiday accommodation are considered resident on a short term basis, and are afforded the same priority as residents”.
- Later, in the same communication, he stated, “The primary purpose of the park and ride is and always has been, to boost the tourist economy of Whitby by managing summertime tourist congestion in the town and providing more parking for visitors“.
- He further stated “It is not correct to say the original purpose of the park and ride was to give priority to residents as regards parking spaces. The primary purpose of the park and ride, is, and always has been, to cater for visitor traffic.”
- He then stated, “As however, as has already been clearly stated, PART of the reason for providing the park and ride, is to allow the growth in the number of visitors to Whitby and hence the tourist economy”.
- Yet, he then went on to state, “The sole reason that the County Council is proposing the Zone structure, is to try to assist residents to find an all day parking space, close to their property and not to ensure priority for holiday accommodation”.
- In the latest consultation document, the aims of the proposals are stated as being, “to help ease traffic congestion and preserve Whitby’s rich heritage”.
I asked the members of the Area Committee if, bearing in mind the confused communications received by me from David Bowe, they could explain the true purpose of the park and ride scheme.
My question was not answered.
In the 2010, or the 2013 consultation questionnaire, there was no mention of “The primary purpose of the park and ride is and always has been, to boost the tourist economy of Whitby”.
The aims of the park and ride scheme changed suddenly, in September 2013, from “the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents“ to “The primary purpose of the park and ride, is, and always has been, to cater for visitor traffic.”
The residents of Whitby were never consulted on this proposal; it was never mentioned in any consultation document or at any of the meetings of the Area Committee, the Council, or at the exhibition at the Coliseum, or by any of the staff of the Highways Department, at any time prior to September 2013.
This new proposal seems to have only been put before the public when the grant of £5.9 million was promised to NYCC by the government under the auspices of Local Sustainable Transport Funding .
Because there was no public consultation on this change in the purpose of the park and ride scheme, the 75% support for the park and ride scheme claimed by NYCC, demonstrated by the residents of Whitby, in their responses to the 2010 Whitby and Sandsend parking management questionnaire, and here, I refer you to Question 3 in that document; “Do you support the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents?“ means this: that the North Yorkshire County Council, had no mandate from the residents of Whitby and the surrounding area for the introduction of this park and ride scheme.
As regards preserving Whitby’s rich heritage, why are the streets littered with concrete filled oil drums used as bases for the new street signage?
Why, despite the requirements of the National Government as regards openness and accountability, and also the adverse comments made by the Local Government Ombudsman, about the manner in which NYCC manipulate the democratic process by the use of STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS, does NYCC persist in allowing unelected, unaccountable, unmandated, and anonymous individuals, to influence the decisions made by NYCC?
What we need now is a proper residents’ consultation about the park and ride scheme, but this time constituted and conducted on democratic principles, no secret meetings, no anonymous members of secret, vested interest pressure groups, just open consultation with access for all and at the end of the consultation, we need documentation demonstrating how the decisions were reached and who made the decisions.
Richard INESON, Whitby. 3rd July, 2015.