Friday 12th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“WTC & the Fourth Estate”

August 20, 2023 Letters, Whitby Town

Within less than 48 hours of the Enquirer publishing Nigel Ward’s damning report on the recent Extraordinary Meeting of Whitby Town Council, one member has broken cover to offer his personal views on the paucity of democratic representation in Whitby in the following Letter to the Editor.

And Councillor Barnett reminds readers of the importance of the Fourth Estate.

Councillor Barnett has called for the en masse resignation of the present WTC membership – to facilitate the election of a fully mandated Council, at the ballot box.

Dear Editor,

May I firstly say that it is essential that The Enquirer and other organs of the Fourth Estate keep going, continue to hold authority to account and to uphold the interests of democracy. As Nye Bevan said; you will only have democracy as long as people want it! Thus, we must continue to resonate with the electorate. After all, they are the sovereign body of society. Those in charge – politicians, businesses, bureaucrats – are the servants, not the masters.

Having spent all my life in some form of public service, it is clear to me that we have to be vigilant in our defence of our rights.

That being said, we have to address where we are as a town and what is going on. It is clear that, given our move to a Unitary Authority, we have a golden opportunity to progress our town. However, we have to address (a) the reluctance/ineptitude of the Town Council and (b) the disenchantment of local voters in Whitby.

A familiar refrain for me as a Town Councillor has been, “I don’t know why you do it?”

Well? So, what is the present ‘state of the nation’ in Whitby?

In relative terms, because of our heritage, we fare better than many coastal towns. This is not because of what we do, but in spite of it! This is very well illustrated by our now endemic problems:

1. Lack of decent well-paid jobs

2. Migration of talent and skills

3. Housing crisis for local people, especially in the rented sector

4. Diminished infrastructure – transport, schools, social services

5. Connectivity – transport, broadband

6. Loss of valuable green spaces

I could go on, and no doubt your readers can add to the list. However, I remain optimistic. I will quite happily demonstrate that we can lobby for change, through legitimate protest. As Barack Obama and Sam Cooke said,

“Yes, we can!”

“A change is gonna come”.

We have local groups who provide a far better fabric for the community than the Councils.

We have to trust in People Power and the Power of the Fourth Estate.

And a final thought:

Why is it that our local North Yorkshire Councillors regard it as a good thing to spend £200K from the public purse on the swing bridge – yet, we still have low pay and food banks?


Answers on a postcard.


Cllr Rob Barnett

Extract from Nigel Ward’s Report



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