Wednesday 17th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Ex-Leader Kicks Off Over Leaks Deluge

Ex-Leader Kicks Off Over Leaks Deluge

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, sharing yet another loaded email regarding the cascade of leaks.


For some months now, I have been attempting to heads-up Scarborough Borough Council to a number of very serious failings in the way it is processing data. It is clear that the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have not been grasped by the Officers tasked with its implementation.

I refer not only to the processing and transmission of confidential documents such as the leaked CVs of the applicants for Jim DILLON’s old job, and not only to the leaked Argos financial/business plan, but also the more prosaic aspects of data control, such as the images recorded on the Council’s CCTV cameras. What a shambles.

I have also tried to assist over the massive legal errors in the Council’s Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).

I will be publishing in detail about these legal errors in due course, perhaps when Full Council reconvenes on 16th September 2019, or shortly before.

The problems stem from two principle causes: firstly, Officers seem unable to comprehend statutes and statutory instruments, because, secondly, Officers have been internally appointed without proper regard to their competency.

I have made a point of raising these issues not only in the pages of the North Yorks Enquirer, but privately with Councillor Tony RANDERSON [Lab.], who is now the Portfolio Holder for  Legal, Democratic & Governance, and also a personal friend.

Unfortunately, in his present position, Tony is reliant on the information passed to him by his Officers – in other words, he is looking for assurances that Officers have acted correctly, from the very Officers who have got it so mind-numbingly, pathetically, stupidly wrong.

The reason that Councillors and Officers are ‘leaking’ info/docs to the Enquirer is that they see what a swamp of incompetence is sucking the Borough down.

Fortunately, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; we now come to the point where even the outgoing Leader, Councillor Derek BASTIMAN [Con.] has come to recognise that the Enquirer is getting it right and the Officers are next to useless. The very fact that I am now able to reproduce his email of 8:49am this morning (30th July 2019) to Director of Legal & Democratic Services Mrs Lisa DIXON (with other luminaries Cc:d) is indicative of the fact someone at the Town Hall (and I NEVER reveal my sources) has been able to ‘leak’ it.

The email to which Councillor BASTIMAN refers must be the disgraceful ‘red mist’ attack made against me on Friday  26th July 2019 by the Data Protection Officer, Mrs Alison JOHNSON – on whose watch this deluge of leaks has taken place. Her ‘buck’ stops at Mrs DIXON.

And I am pleased to see Councillor BASTIMAN railing against the incipient suggestion that it is Councillors who are leaking confidential information – most of them would have no clue how to go about that simple task.

For a very long time now, I have been publishing ample evidence in support of the contention that all that is wrong with SBC cannot be rectified at the ballot box. Whether it is the Conservative Group or this desperately uncomfortable Lab/Indie ‘coalition’ in charge, improvement in the Council’s performance will remain elusive – just so long as the same group of over-paid, over-rated ‘Officers’ rule the roost.

Regular readers will have noted the inevitable departure, after ineradicable errors highlighted by the Enquirer, of former Deputy Monitoring Officer David KITSON and, more recently, Silent Jim DILLON himself.

Finance Director Nick EDWARDS, following his failure to step into Jimbo’s shoes, is reportedly simply treading water until his full pension plan comes on stream, before slipping comfortably into a cushy sinecure with some partner or other of the Council. That will leave his replacement to face the grim matter of resolving the four years’ worth of unratified accounts (still pending, on account of the legal action over the Whitby Harborour revenues).

Like Mrs DIXON, Mr EDWARDS must be hoping against hope that his CV will not find its way into the public domain. In my view, that is just a matter of time.

Speaking of Mrs DIXON,  I now learn that BBC Look North is not best pleased with her, having been refused an interview – or even a comment. Apparently – and contrary to Mrs DIXON emphatic assertions to the Audit Committee – the North Yorkshire Police will NOT be investigating the leak of the Argos papers – no law has been broken and no Councillor will face life imprisonment for Misconduct in Public Office. To quote my source:

  • “It looks like Steve Siddons has hitched his wagon to the most incompetent Legal Officer in Council. He is so politically inept that he won’t even act to save his own skin.”

In four weeks time, on 28th August 2019, the new CEO and Head of Paid Service Mike GREENE will assume his position. I offer him this priceless gift of sincere welcome. We shall see whether or not he knows how to use it.

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