Tuesday 16th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

WTC: Educating Linda

September 27, 2023 Whitby Town

WTC: Educating Linda

  • – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on absolutely disgraceful conduct by certain Whitby Town Councillors at the Extraordinary Meeting held on Tuesday 26th September.

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Before reporting on this astonishing meeting, there is a small matter in which I should declare an interest.

There were a number of disgraceful outbursts during the course of a meeting at which the acrimony-level reached new depths.

The first concerns the former Mayor, Councillor Linda WILD – the public face of the Council for three years.

Councillor WILD stated, openly looking daggers at me and leaving no doubt whatsoever as to the identity of the intended target of her bile, that a member of the public had called her “pork”.

That is a lie.

Councillor WILD can only have been referring to an article of mine, aptly entitled “WTC: The Vipers’ Nest”, on the subject of wasting Council time (published on the North Yorks Enquirer on 20th September 2023).

By all means read the whole article. The (possibly) relevant passage is reproduced below:

Let us consider, for a moment, the expression “You can’t educate pork”.

Councillor WILD could so easily have followed Councillor John NOCK’s advice and indulged in a modicum of research.

Google would have immediately informed her that “You can’t educate pork” refers to “someone who won’t listen to reason”  and “someone so set in their beliefs that you simply can’t say anything that will alter their mindset”.

Other interpetations of the expession “You can’t educate pork” include this pithier, more direct version:

Need I say more?

It was my maternal grandfather, back in the days of rationing, who I first heard use the expression “You can’t educate pork”.

Another one of his pearls of wisdom was “If the cap fits, wear it!”.

So let me be clear; I did not call Linda WILD “pork”. I stated, and intended that, “In my view” (as announced at the top of every one of my articles), she is so set in her beliefs as to be impervious to reason. I stand by my opinion.

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 grants me that right. And I thank former Councillor Mrs Amanda SMITH, who included that reference in her eloquent remarks to all those assembled in the Pannet Art Gallery on Tuesday evening. Bravo, Amanda! Readers may not be aware that Mrs SMITH resigned form the Council in 2019 because of the hateful factionalism that has since grown and festered beyond all measure.

However, I am not presently minded to pursue Councillor WILD under the terms of the Defamation Act 2013. I would imagine that she has already achieved more than enough to terminally discredit herself in the eyes of the Whitby electorate.

Nor will I go to the trouble of lodging a Formal Complaint against her to the NYC Monitoring Officer in respect of what I regard as a flagrant breach of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (the heaviest sanction available is 15 minutes re-training with the Monitoring Officer – a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit!).

All of the Whitby Town Councillors are committed, by Resolution, to the NALC Civility & Respect Pledge. Some commitment! Councillors WILSON, WILD, NOCK and HARRISON have seemingly forgotten about that.

Turning now to Councillor Michael HARRISON’s remarks casting the Enquirer’s often irreverent publication of so-called ‘photoons’, a digital age form of pictorial political lampoon that has been gracing the covers of Private Eye since 1964:

The distinction between the Enquirer photoons that have so irked Councillor HARRISON and Private Eye front covers is only that the latter are often merely fictional, whereas the two Enquirer examples reproduced below are based on multiple eye-witness reports.

What they illustrate, in jocular fashion, is that the thoroughly obnoxious sense of entitlement on show at the Extraordinary Council Meeting last night is openly expressed and even flaunted by these two.

But, again, Councillor HARRISON (a regular absentee) would have done well to heed Councillor John NOCK’s opinions (I will return to these presently) urging members to do some research. It is clear that Councillor HARRISON has no idea who creates the Enquirer’s cartoons and photoons. He wishes to castigate me personally based on . . . what? Assumptions and his own ignorance.

Some people, alas, never allow ignorance (porcine or otherwise) to stand in the way of a mindless rant.

Readers pursuing the research that Councillor NOCK urges may elicit the following gems of character insight:

In brief, Councillor NOCK is the man who expressed the view, in the Members’ Room at Scarborough Town Hall, that former Scarborough Mayor and NYCC Councillor Peter JACONELLI could not rightly be compared with prolific predatory paedophile Jimmy SAVILE, on the grounds that he was not a paedophile.

At my request, North Yorkshire County Council Leader Carl LES subsequently apologised to JACONELLI’s victims, as did Assistant Chief Constable Paul KENNEDY of the North Yorkshire Police. But not SBC.

Apparently Councillor NOCK felt that introducing under-age boys to male prostitution was nothing for a “wordsmith” to write home about. However, according to the Yorkshire Post, NOCK then had the nerve to accuse the Councillors who reported his vile remarks of bringing the Council into disrepute.

I would describe that as “twisted logic”:

Perhaps this self-professed “wordsmith” can assist me in locating a suitable noun that embraces all the attributes of “hypocrisy”, “sanctimoniousness” and “perfidy” in one commonly-known word, preferably with few enough syllables to fall within lesser members’ vocabularies?

Councillor Noreen WILSON’s spirited (but empty) attempted defence of her indefensible ‘non-Motion’ was an object lesson in rancorous invective.

For the avoidance of doubt, a Motion is a Proposal (requiring a Proposer and a Seconder) that the Council takes a clearly defined action. Councillor WILSON’s ‘non-Motion’ does not meet that simple threshold:

Any competent and diligent Clerk/RFO would have sent these ladies back to the drawing board. No competent Chair/Mayor would have permitted this ‘non-Motion’ to go to a vote – for what action were Councillors being called upon to authorise? Handbags at dawn?

Similarly, no competent Chair/Mayor would have missed the opportunity, given such a large public presence, to suspend Standing Orders and allow everyone who wished to speak to do so. Councillor DALRYMPLE was clearly oblivious to the appalling impression created by his defensive/aggressive demeanour – just as he was at the 4th September 2023 Town Meeting/Assembly. A PR disaster of astonishing proportions.

Personally, I am grateful.

But I do wonder how many members of the public will have discerned the sly deviousness couching that absurd vote.

Those present may remember that the Chair/Mayor took the count clockwise, beginning with Councillor RIDDOLLS on his immediate left. The votes ‘FOR’ proceed around the table, amounting to 6 by the time the circle concluded with the Chair/Mayor himself, who was all too aware that, with only 14 members present, the non-Motion would be defeated without his own vote. The Chair/Mayor then voted ‘FOR’ the non-Motion, bringing the total to up to 7 – half of those present.

The AGAINST vote was taken, amounting again to a total of 7 – a tie.

The Chair/Mayor was then entitled to use a casting vote to break the tie. There was never any doubt as to how he intended to use his casting vote – he had already shown his colours, aligning his own vote with the ‘FOR’ contingent. But it was only after a theatrical pause, intended no doubt to convey deep deliberation, that the Chair/Mayor announced his casting vote ‘FOR’ the non-Motion – which thus carried. (Where to, nobody knows – and it may never be seen again).

But if members had chosen a more experienced Councillor as Chair/Mayor on 2nd May 2023, things could have been different. Clearly Councillor DALRYMPLE, a parvenu in local government, was unaware of the LGA Guidance on the use of casting votes – and so, apparently was the Clerk/RFO, whose duty it is to advise Councillors regarding ‘best practice’:

Similarly, the NALC Guidance states:

‘Best practice’ is seldom a consideration at Whitby Town Council, which is why their 2022/23 Annual Accounts cannot be ‘signed off’ by the External Auditor, PKF LITTLEJOHN LLP.

In this case, the ‘best practice’ of maintaining the status quo would have ensured the failure of the ‘non-Motion’ – and a withdrawal toward some lost realm of sanity.

I will close by applauding the reasoned, measured contributions of Councillor Hero SUMNER, Councillor Sandra TURNER and Councillor Rob BARNETT, all of whom impressed with their sincerity and commitment to the people of Whitby. Councillors Chris RIDDOLLS and Alf ABBOTT are also doing sterling work. It is a great sadness to me that they are ever out-voted by vainglorious self-seekers and arrant fools. I thank them for leading by example and provide a salutary illustration of the inverted pyramid of Whitby Town Council, where lions are led by donkeys.

I doubt that many in Whitby have scrutinised the Town Council so deeply and for so long as I have. Hats off to those who have. So I feel free to offer an educated opinion (must I always stress that point?) on the matter of which Councillors merit the support of the people and I have no fear (unlike the vipers) of naming names; those without ticks embody the only remaining obstacle to proper democratic representation for the town:

I close by welcoming the possibility of a by-election for the casual vacancy in West Cliff Ward, where Peter CROFT has resigned for what I regard as obvious and entirely understandable reasons.

Finally, finally, finally: I have received a number of communications from members of the public present at last night’s Extraordinary Meeting. I would like to share just two.

The first contains a page from a resident’s contemporaneous notes – the second, a very amusing Komedy Karaoke clip of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”. Enjoy!

And now for a good harmless chuckle!

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