ERYC BID Summonses
- an Open Letter to Caroline LACEY from NIGEL WARD, exercising (we hope) the voice of reason.
Mrs Caroline LACEY – CEO and Head of Paid Service – East Riding of Yorkshire Council
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
I preface my remarks by disclosing that I am privy to certain correspondence between potential Yorkshire Coast BID levy-payers and the East Riding Magistrates’ Court (ERMC) comprising enquiries regarding the adjourned hearing pursuant to thirty-eight Summonses issued by the Council in respect of non-payment of levy invoices.
I am also privy to some rather stiff-armed responses from ERMC, which I reproduce here for your convenient reference.
“I have received a response from the head of the legal team, he is of the view that the case will proceed as planned and there will be no adjournment.”
“At the present time all court hearings are going ahead as planned. If you have to self-isolate please follow government guidance and then let us know if you either have CVID-19[sic] or are self-isolating. We will ensure that the court are[sic] of the reason for your non-attendance.”
Both of these responses disregard the principal grounds for enquiry – namely, the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on a Court room with a crowded public gallery – expressed thus:
“I am lead to believe that a large number of supporters/protesters are expected to attend the Court on that day so it may, therefore, be prudent to move the adjourned hearing to a larger Court room.
Given the government’s advice in respect of large gatherings during the present COVID-19 crisis, and being mindful of the public health situation, the Court may wish to consider the wisdom of holding the hearing on the appointed date.
Could you please advise me in light of the circumstances whether or not the Court, in its wisdom, is prepared to hand down a further adjournment?”
Notwithstanding the fact that relations between us have been difficult, sometimes testy, over recent years, I am now appealing to you personally to consider the following – and to act accordingly.
Mr Peter STANYON’s Report on his independent investigation into the conduct, by the Scarborough Borough Council Electoral Services Team, of the ballot process leading to the incorporation of Yorkshire Coast BID Ltd fully confirms the validity of the many (over thirty) critical articles that I (and others) have published in the North Yorks Enquirer over the past eighteen months.
I have no doubt that you have studied the STANYON Report, as well as the solicitor’s letter from Mr Gareth PINWELL of ASHFORDS LLP to the Chair of the Scarborough Borough Council Audit Committee, each of which identifies a considerable number of procedural improprieties.
You will be aware, too, that 19th March meeting of the SBC Audit Committee, which may have been expected to offer a Recommendation to Full Council and/or Cabinet going forward, has been postponed solely on account of the COVID-19 crisis.
It cannot be contested that, at the very least, a reasonable doubt – an unresolved doubt – exists as to the legal basis underpinning the Council’s determination to issue Summonses and seek Liability Orders. Nor can it be contested that public health is under the most serious threat for a generation.
Further, businesses are complaining that only the most negligible benefit can be attributed to YCBID’s provision of services thus far. The so-called ‘Brid Bus’ was a project of such trivial scale as to be irrelevant to the vast majority of potential levy-payers throughout the greater BID area (whatever that is). The ‘flagship’ project (to create a ‘Yorkshire Coast Highway’) remains undelivered, for the entirely predictable reason that no consideration of Planning requirements for signage was factored into this questionable pipedream. The Whitby Krampus Run succeeded only in alienating Whitby businesses, with animosity rising almost to the level of fisticuffs. A £50K Christmas tree in the centre of Scarborough was not beneficial to many businesses in the BID area. The ‘Business Improvement’ element of the BID has not been a success.
The sad truth is that the Yorkshire Coast BID exists on the sole foundation of a ballot conducted with monumental incompetence and has achieved nothing that even the redoubtable Mr Clive ROWE-EVANS – who has been shown to be capable of stretching a yarn when it so suits – could claim to justify its continued existence.
I have this morning heard the Prime Minister, at PMQ, offer assurances, to the House and to the nation, that £330 billion pounds is already set aside to assist businesses during the forthcoming period of unprecedented hardship. Business rates have been waived for twelve months.
I have also considered the government’s advice with regard to the urgent need to avoid large gatherings – “Avoid all unnecessary gatherings”. Our country has been described as being “on a war footing”. Crowded Court rooms cannot be said to form part of the government’s defence strategy – especially in the case of civil matters of spurious provenance.
Yet ERYC, wishes to drag thirty-eight defendants to Beverley for no other purpose than to witness the Magistrates arrive once again at their earlier commonsense conclusion that it would be premature to consider the matter without first learning the outcome of Scarborough Borough Council’s deliberations – which we may await for some considerable time yet.
Bureaucracy gone mad.
I implore you, Caroline: Get a grip! You are presently creating the appearance that you are the abettor of racketeers and the facilitator of a deadly virus.
“We always try to do our very best. Our best for the East Riding. Our best for residents. Our best for businesses. Our best for local communities. Our best for the East Riding economy. Our best for the environment. Our best for children and young people. And our best to protect our most vulnerable members of society.”
From which hymn-sheet do you intend to sing, Caroline? “Going Beyond Authority”?
Please consider discontinuing the action.
And take good care.
Very kind regards,
Scarborough Borough Council statement:
Supporting our communities during coronavirus
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
Cllr Liz Colling, our Deputy Leader, has issued the following statement today (18 March) in relation to coronavirus:
“Our borough, along with the rest of the country, is facing a very significant challenge from coronavirus. I want to reassure our communities that we are here to support them during these worrying times, in whatever way we can. It has been heart-warming to hear of the support people are giving each other in our communities and we will be working with our partners to ensure as many people that need to access this support are able to do so. By continuing to support each other, we will be able to help keep our borough moving and healthy.
“As part of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, we are working to manage the impact of very significant challenges and focus our resources where they are needed most throughout our borough. This approach will give us the best possible chance of minimising impacts on our communities and ensure they receive the support they need to deal with the challenges ahead during the next few months.
“The North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum includes Public Health England, regional public health, the NHS, the police, fire service, North Yorkshire County Council and district councils. Together, and with wider partners, we are following the latest expert national guidance and incorporating it into our planning and response.
“We have reviewed how we work as a council to allow us to respond to a wide variety of impacts relating to coronavirus and deal with what is a continuously evolving situation, moving at a rapid pace. This includes many of our staff being supported to work from home and extra support given to those that can’t work from home to allow them to carry on delivering front line services that our communities rely on.
“We are working with our partners, including the voluntary sector, to ensure we continue to support the most vulnerable in our communities.
“We will be issuing detailed guidance today on how the Government is rolling out financial support measures to businesses and this information will be available via scarborough.gov.uk
“We are encouraging anyone that needs to contact our Customer First team to use the online self service options at scarborough.gov.uk or call 01723 232323 rather than visit our sites in person. However we will continue to provide a face to face service for our most vulnerable residents.
“We will be putting out regular updates on our website, through social media and via local media. We urge everyone to keep following the latest official guidance online from the Government and Public Health England on how to stay safe and look after each other as we all face the challenges ahead together.”
Councillor COLLING is standing in for the Leader, Councillor Steve SIDDONS [Lab.], who is convalescing.
Councillor SIDDONS writes:
Date: 18 March 2020 at 11:18:12 GMT
To: Councillors Email Group <CouncillorsDG@scarborough.gov.uk>, Noticeboard <Noticeboard@scarborough.gov.uk>
Subject: Leader update
During my absence, I am very grateful to Liz Colling, my deputy, for dealing with important and necessary issues and acting on my behalf. I am also grateful to the rest of Cabinet for their support during this time and to Mike Greene and all the staff for dealing with day to day issues.
Can I also add my particular thanks to staff who are now working in very uncertain times. The next few weeks and months will bring challenges that none of us could have anticipated a few short weeks ago. Stay safe everyone.
Leader of the Council
Councillor for Ramshill & Weaponness
Scarborough Borough Council