A Letter to the Editor from BOB ROBERTS, Scarborough lobster fisherman, expressing the hope shared by many – that a change for the better may be imminent at Scarborough Borough Council – and the fear, shared by more, that we shall get only more of the same old, same old.
This week sees us going to the polls to select who is to represent us in Local Government for the next four years. A timely election in conjunction (almost) with the appointment of a new and untarnished Head of Paid Service, indeed a most welcome new CEO.
Today our Sunday papers predict a Tory meltdown in their local government representatives with an expected 1,000 Councillors losing their seats. Hopefully the same can be said of the other major parties losing seats in the wake of those parties failing to honour their respective manifestos on the Brexit issue – an issue which has now morphed itself from a Brexit issue into an abandonment of Democracy issue . . . and rightly so.
For us in the Borough of Scarborough, our issues are much more of a breakdown of trust and a lack of integrity, a lack of accountability, poor leadership – in fact, just about all the things that all of the Seven Nolan Principles require, as set out by central government but largely ignored by some Officers and Councillors alike. Hopefully, an induction and awareness program will inform new and re-elected Councillors of the vital importance of those Nolan principles. I would suggest that it may also be prudent to have Council Officers attend that same program.
Obviously there are to be some casualties in all local elections, although in ours it is likely to be more so. It’s even more likely that, here in the Borough, the Tories will lose their majority in the Town Hall and, with that, also the likelihood of Councillor Derek Bastiman failing to retain his role as Leader of the Council. We will then see a shake-up of the Portfolio Holders.
For me, having a vested interest as a commercial fishing boat owner in Scarborough, it’s to be hoped that IF we are to start afresh (surely we are?) then the new Leader should put in place somone who understands the needs of the harbour users, as a priority.
- Someone who is willing to engage with harbour stakeholders and the harbour communities, which at present doesn’t and hasn’t happened at least in Scarborough for a number of years.
- Someone who will ensure that the present harbour management becomes a pro-active regime, rather than the present merely re-active to the many issues facing the ports of Whitby and Scarborough. The fiasco surrounding the Whitby Piers clearly illustrates this point.
- Someone who is of the belief that the fishing industry in both Scarborough and Whitby has a future, a future other than providing a quaint rustic backdrop to support the present myopic vision of a tourism only economy.
- Someone who will ensure that revenues raised in the ports remains in the ports and is re-invested to improve harbour infrastructure.
- Someone who will re-invigorate and instill some energy into the harbour management, from the Harbour Master down, into providing the service that harbour stakeholders expect and pay for.
- Someone who will ensure that the hugely expensive and under-utilised dredger is used to its full potential in both ports, something that at present doesn’t happen.
- Someone who will ask awkward questions of the harbour department, from the responsible director down, and also be willing to answer awkward questions from harbour stakeholders.
So if we are to learn anything from the last years with Bastiman as Leader, his choice of Portfolio Holders leaves a lot to be desired. None of those particular portfolio holders have covered themselves in glory and are unable to claim to have been a roaring success with failures in almost every department. The Harbours Portfolio Holder leads the pack in those respects, followed by tourism and finance.
At the end of this week we will see a new Council, one which has the opportunity to be truly a transformational Council, to transform its reputation from being one of the worst in the country, to one of its best. Let’s hope they seize this opportunity with a new CEO and a new Council and start off on the right foot.
For my part its to be hoped it begins with a capable and engaging Portfolio Holder for Ports.