NYC Councillors Speak
Guest Author Alderman NORMAN MURPHY writes to record his pleasant surprise at a number of Scarborough North Yorkshire Councillors asking some of the right questions.
I have been moved to put pen to paper to record a rather surprising event that has recently taken place in Scarborough Town Hall. I am, of course, referring to the miraculous spectacle of some of our local Scarborough Councillors, actually speaking up on behalf of those who elected them.
These remarkable utterances took place when, during an Area Committee meeting, there was an Item on the Agenda concerning Yorkshire Water (YW) and their long-standing pollution of our bays, and incredibly a couple of our Councillors spoke out and asked the YW representative some questions.
Their interventions were, of course, totally useless and they were easily fobbed off, but it was heartening to hear some of our Councillors actually taking an active interest, even if it was probably only politically motivated, in an issue that really concerns many Scarborough residents and visitors.
Nonetheless, whatever their motives, as far as I am concerned, credit where credit is due and long may their support for stopping YW from continuing its filthy practice of discharging raw sewage into the sea continue.
However, as many residents know only too well, important though stopping YW from polluting our seas is, it is only one of the many issues where the support of our local Councillors should, long ago, have been forthcoming.
Examples of “Councillor Neglect” are, of course, abundant, and the list of important issues where they have basically ignored residents’ concerns is long indeed. That being said, therefore, I don’t propose to bore readers by listing them all here.
However, I feel it would be a wasted opportunity not to try and remind our local Councillors that they work for us and that our concerns are what matter, not them getting eye-watering increases in their allowances.
In this regard, it seems obvious to me that two stand-out issues are currently clamouring for the attention of our elected representatives.
High on the list must be sorting out the disaster that is The Scarborough Fair Project (TSFP) and the associated Scarborough Town Deal Board (STDB) who runs it. Both these organisations must, in my opinion, be, as soon as possible, abolished and a decent, representative body made up of Scarborough residents brought in to replace them.
The STDB is clearly not fit for purpose. The decisions it has made, such as establishing TSFP and agreeing to its tin pot schemes, costing I might add over £2 million pounds of taxpayers money, are bordering on insanity.
Had the £2 million that the TDB have squandered on the TSFP been spent instead on Peasholm Park; then we could have had a stunning, permanent light display and a reinstatement of the much loved Tree Walk.
However, although abolishing these two basket cases and replacing them with a more fit for purpose board would make a good constructive start, an essential component of any regeneration of our beautiful town must start with the demolition of the old ARGOS building and the creation of the desperately needed Town Square.
If the Scarborough Fair fiasco has shown us anything; it is that Scarborough does not just need a Town Square, it is an absolutely vital requirement if any sort of high street revival is going to be mounted.
The key to achieving high street success is encouraging footfall, which requires us to entice more and more people, visitors and residents, to come into our high street and use its retail outlets and attractions.
Building bedsits, barrack blocks for students, which is what our previous leader of the Council, Steve “It’s a Dog’s Breakfast” Siddons, wanted built on the ARGOS site, will never encourage anyone into our high street.
It is not rocket science, and it is a formula being used up and down the country; give people a reason to return to the high street and they will come. Make it cold, dull and uninviting, as Siddons and his cronies wanted, and you will drive people away.
We, the people of Scarborough, now, at long last, have an opportunity to create something new and vibrant, a splendid Town Square surround on two sides by stunning buildings, in the enviable position of being able to link the sea front and old town with our more modern high street.
With such advantages, if Bishop Auckland of all places, who have nothing like the pull Scarborough has, can attract 35,000 people to its high street Christmas lights display, surely we could attract perhaps 135,000 to ours.
So, as I see it, the path to prosperity, and a revived and rejuvenated town, our beautiful town of Scarborough, is laid out before us. NYC should immediately abolish the TDB and establish a truly fit for purpose new board with a remit to actually pursue projects that will really benefit residents and visitors.
Our Councillors should throw their weight behind schemes which have already been well researched and have an excellent prospect of success. The Town Square project and substantial improvements to Peasholm Park, starting with the reinstatement of the Tree Walk, should be top of their list. However, they should not stop there; I am sure many more exciting and much needed projects can be found.
Scarborough is crying out for the innovation and vision that our Victorian forefathers demonstrated, and my fear is that, under the present leadership, if nothing changes, our children will all be making their livings from going up chimneys again.