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North Yorks Enquirer

Park-&-Ride – now in its 16th glorious year!

January 31, 2014 Letters

A Letter to the Editor from Richard INESON, reporting on the ‘Show of the Century’ – NYCC’s Northern Area Committee “Park and [get taken for a] Ride” meeting of 29th January 2014.


North Yorkshire Coast & Moors Area Committee

Wednesday 29th January 2014.

Sneaton Castle – St. Bede Hall, Whitby.

Dear Mr Editor,

This meeting, convened to approve or amend the proposals for the parking arrangements associated with the Park-&-Ride Scheme, and which will have arguably the most significant long-term affects on Whitby people and businesses to have been seen in Whitby for a century or more (the installation of the Swing Bridge, opened in 1909 was probably as significant an event), took place on a wet and dreary afternoon, before a good cross-section of the Whitby citizenry.

The first question I heard being was asked was ,

“Why are they [the Area Committee] holding this meeting in this hall, which must be quite expensive to hire, instead of in say, at the Whitby Pavilion, or the Leisure Centre, which would be free of charge?”

A good question, but beaten for its pertinence – and by a large margin – by the following,

“Were ever a more dispiriting bunch of unprincipled, no hopers, brown-nosers, lickspittles, and dead-beats ever gathered together  before, in one place?”

It is difficult to be certain at whom this remark was aimed but, at the time,  the utterer was looking in the direction of the members of the Area Committee.

The meeting was Chaired by County Councillor Penny Marsden (Complete Con.) a lady who failed to declare her membership of the Complete Cons. Party, until quite recently, in her Register of Interests.

Mr.Mason, Nick West, and the delightful Helen Watson of NYCC, made a presentation to the Committee regarding the revised parking arrangements for the Park-&-Ride and then members of the public who, having given prior notice of their questions to the Committee Clerk, Josie O’Dowd, were invited to ask the members their  questions.

Cllr. Ian Havelock (Ind.) asked how much had been spent on the Park-&-Ride  so far. The answer – £890,000 – brought gasps of amazement from the good citizens of Whitby, who have nothing tangible to show for this enormous sum of money except a muddy field.

How can this sum have already been spent? How is it possible? I think that we should be told.

My questions, which I asked at the Area Committee meeting in September 2013, and which were not answered, I had then subsequently submitted in writing to Moira Beighton, David Bowe, the members of the Area Committee and other Councillors again without any answer being forthcoming, were,

  • 1. Could the members of the Area Committee tell  me how the current parking proposals allow ‘ priority parking’ for residents, as was promised, and on which basis, the residents of Whitby voted for the park and ride proposals, in the public consultation in 2010?
  • 2. If the current proposals do not afford ‘priority parking for residents’ how can NYCC claim to have a mandate for the development of the park and ride proposals?

I also made a statement supporting my questions as follows:

  • In the Whitby and Sandsend parking management consultation questionnaire, May/June 2010, the citizens of Whitby were asked , “Do you support the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents.”

This consultation proposal received 74.93% support from those responding to the questionnaire.

The proposals resulting from the 2010 consultation did not provide ‘priority parking for residents’ because anybody – scratch-card holders, residents, business-permit holders, day visitors using disc-permits, tradesmen’s-permit holders – would be allowed to park in any of the parking spaces i.e. residents did not have any priority at all.

The Park-&-Ride  was approved by NYCC/Area Committee on the 3rd October 2012; the parking proposals were not approved.

A further consultation took place  in August/September 2013.

The latest parking proposals, resulting from the August/September consultation, do not provide ‘priority parking for residents’ because, anybody – scratch-card holders, residents, business-permit holders, day visitors using disc-permits, tradesmen’s-permit holders –  will be allowed to park in any of the parking spaces i.e. residents do not have any priority at all.

This means, if the proposals are approved that NYCC do not have a mandate for any part of the Park-&-Ride because the so called public consultation  induced people – 74.93% of those responding –  to vote for the proposal,

  • “5. Do you support the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents.”

which will not, under the current proposals, be fulfilled.

This is akin to a political party proposing that, if elected, they would abolish income tax and provide unlimited free beer to the electorate. This would not be allowed by the Electoral Commission.

Mr. Mason did offer his view, at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, 9th, October, 2013 which was held in Northallerton, that

  • “Residents do have priority as regards parking, because they can park their cars within the permit zone, for a longer period of time than anyone else.”

Here is what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about the word ‘priority’

  • “the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others”
  • “a thing that is regarded as more important than others”
  • “the right to proceed before other traffic”

Seems quite clear to me, priority does not mean what Mr. Mason – like Humpty Dumpty in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ : “When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less” – wishes it to mean.

The implications, as regards the so called public consultation in 2010 when the question

  • “3. Do you support the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents.”

was asked, and this proposal received the support of 74.93% of those responding to the questionnaire, are that the consultation was flawed and  this particular question was ‘loaded’ so as to get the support of the citizens of Whitby for something which was not going to be provided  i.e.

  • ‘the introduction of controlled parking zones to provide priority for residents.”

this also means that NYCC have no mandate for the introduction of any part of the Park-&-Ride , and the members of the Area Committee and NYCC may have acted ultra vires,  i.e. beyond their legal power or authority, in allowing the work to commence on the Park-&-Ride site without a mandate to do so, and may be liable to surcharge.

My question, No.1, was answered by Mr. Mason, as follows,

  • “Residents do have priority as regards parking, because they can park their cars within the permit zone, for a longer period of time than anyone else.”

Which again, is not the meaning which the OED ascribes to the word ‘priority’. (For further clarification see Humpty Dumpty, above),

My question No.2.

  • 2. If the current proposals do not afford ‘priority parking for residents’ how can NYCC claim to have a mandate for the development of the park and ride proposals?

was not answered.

Councillor Jeffels (Complete Con.) arrived at the meeting at about this point – the Area Committee had another meeting in Scarborough during the morning. What tireless servants of the public are our worthy Councillors. Let us hope that they were provided with a substantial lunch to sustain them through the long afternoon.

So exhausted with his efforts on the morning shift, on our behalf, was Cllr. Jeffels, that he did appear to nod off (many people commented on this, but I am sure that he was merely resting his eyes) shortly after taking up his seat.

Councillor Joe Plant (Complete Con.) then proposed an amendment to the amended parking proposals,

  • “The costs for permits for scratch cards as advertised and shown in appendix 3 be approved but with an additional 3 year introductory discount for residents permits for second and third cars reducing the cost from £27 and £44 per year to £15 and £32 respectively. An introductory discount also to be applied to the costs of business permits reducing the costs of the first business permit form £77 to £50.
[Bold type – our Joe’s amendment]

Measures obviously designed to assist the struggling, and needy, three-car family.

Councillor Plant (Complete Con.) then seemed to lose the plot; he said that he was in favour of democracy and then proceeded to give an overview of how we had all arrived in this room on this day.

 (Don’t mention the unelected, unmandated, anonymous, unaccountable members of the three STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUPS whose meetings were held in secret, and of which meetings, only very sketchy notes were kept (names redacted to protect the innocent) and whose members decided on the parking proposals in connection with the Park and  [get taken for a] Ride. Our Joe was the Chair of one of those secret groups. And then there are the secret meetings of the Whitby Traffic Partnership, whose members, again, are anonymous, unaccountable, unelected and unmandated and who ‘developed’ the Park-&-Ride proposals).

For further clarification of what is meant by democracy in North Yorkshire, see Humpty Dumpty, above.

Councillor Joe Plant asked the room in general, if anyone could remember how long ago it was since the Park -&-Ride  was first proposed?

Everyone, including the members of the Area Committee, and in particular, the Chair, Penny Marsden (Complete Con.) seemed baffled by this turn of events, but our Joe ploughed on remorselessly. Not receiving any answer to his question (several of us have a complete set of documents relating to this Park-&-Ride and could have answered the question without any trouble, but it was a situation which engendered a feeling similar to that which possesses you when a madman sits next to you on the bus or train, or accosts you in the street.

Silence, in such circumstances, is golden.

Joe told us that the date in question was February 1998. Bravo.

Was this, we ask ourselves, something of which any of our Councillors or our Council employees could be proud; sixteen years and £890,000, for what? A muddy field?

Indefatigably, Joe stumbled on. He encouraged us to immerse ourselves in Park-&-Ride history; he pointed out that if we were to seek true enlightenment as to how we found ourselves, together,  in this room, on this day, that we should study the great works of Mouchel. (Mouchel is some kind of planning, highways, civil engineering outfit, employed by NYCC).

Joe pointed out that the circumstances in which we find ourselves today – i.e. the owners of a Bollard Which Never Rises (cost c. £15K, plus £3K – so far – for telephone lines) and a muddy field which has planning permission (which cost £50K) for the development of a car park – total cost for plans, feasibility studies, etc, £890,000 can all be traced back to the Mouchel report of 2003.

At this, several of his Complete Con. colleagues began to look decidedly uneasy; was that the flapping of white coats that we could hear?

My memories of the great works of Mouchel stem from the East Side Parking Management fiasco of 2006, when they produced a colour brochure which heralded the proposed installation of a Parking Zone on the east side of Whitby. Not surprisingly, this ridiculous  proposal was thrown out by the residents of the east side (only for it be resurrected, without amendment and without any further public consultation, in connection with the Park and  Ride).

The Mouchel parking fiasco brochure bore on its cover a photograph of lower Church Street, taken from outside The Fleece, or nearby; the caption on the photograph stated ‘Parking on the Ropery’ – which should tell you all you need to know about Mouchel.

They also took two and a half years to design a parking/loading bay on Bridge Street, which never got designed or built. Nick West told me at the time that he could design a loading bay in five minutes, which begs the question, why didn’t he do so and save us all a lot of money?

They also renamed Skinner Street as Skinnergate in another half-cocked parking  which never got off the ground.

I wouldn’t personally employ Mouchel or anybody connected with this outfit to fetch me a bottle of milk from the corner shop.

By this time, several of the Complete Cons. were making ‘wind it up’ signs as Joe dug himself ever deeper into a hole. Poor Penny was looking desperate, she tried twice to stem our Joe’s surprising and uncharacteristic verbosity, without even a scintilla of success.

One thing that I will say in Joe’s favour is that he has equipped himself with a Tablet/I-pad/whatever, and he had downloaded the 143-page Agenda and Report and was reading it  from the screen.

(If all of our Councillors were to follow Joe’s example, it would save millions of trees and many thousands of our pounds, it is obvious, in any case, that many/most of our Councillors do not read (or even open) the agendas or reports, so the printing of what must be millions of pages of these documents each year, is a disgrace and should be discontinued)

Joe reached the year 2007 in his saga, at this, the word ‘Bollard’ ran around the room, many

  • (for those new to this gripping tale, the ‘Bollard’ refers to the iconic Bollard which was put in place on St. Anne’s Staithe in the year 2007, to control traffic on Pier Road when the Park-&-Ride  was scheduled to commence operation in the year 2008. “So what happened?” I hear you ask. The answer is, nothing happened, the Bollard remained underground ever since and has never risen, except to see if it still works and for essential maintenance, (the cover on the control box had to be replaced as it rusted away). It is connected to two telephone lines which have cost us over three thousand pounds so far. With whom does it communicate? I hear you ask. A good question.)

people began laughing, and Joe finally realised that he had gone a Bollard too far and that only the very top of his head was now visible from his self-engineered hole.

Interestingly, the Whitby Gazette has now reminded readers that Councillors Plant and Chance were barred from the September 2013 meeting (having pecuniary interests). This time around they obtained special dispensations to take part. As the Gazette points out:

“Had this been the case at the previous meeting where the decision to go ahead with the plan was taken, both Cllrs Plant and Chance said they would have followed public opinion and voted against the motion. This would have caused it to fail and the parking restriction plans would have been thrown out.”

This time, the party line took precedence. Joe and Dave  U-turned – and Whitby residents have been treated with the customary CONtempt. Some say “Good old Joe!”. Others tell the truth.

Councillor Sam Cross (UKIP) said that it was obvious that nobody in Whitby wanted the Park-&-Ride , and that he felt very sorry that it was being foisted upon the people of Whitby against their wishes.

The Councillors representing the Labour Party did not say anything, with the exception of Group Leader Eric Broadband, who spoke like a true Tory. What a pity that Councillor David Billings (Lab) did not turn up to support him, on that occasion, as the Labour members would have had a majority and the Park-&-Ride Scheme could have been abandoned.

I had been waiting to see if The Bollard Which Never Rises would be mentioned, I never expected Joe to bring up this embarrassing object, but . . . as he had done so, I decided to try to help by pointing out a difficulty with the Bollard which needed to be addressed.

When looking at the plans for the parking zone I had noticed that one of the Permit Holders Zones was situated on the Khyber Pass, the only access being by way of Pier Road, and of course this will be closed to traffic, when the park and ride  becomes effective in 2014, except for essential users. Pier Road will be closed by means of the internationally famous Bollard Which Never Rises.

The Chair, County (and Borough) Councillor Penny Marsden (Complete Con.), kindly allowed me to speak to the members and I pointed out that it would be necessary for anyone who applied for a parking permit – any resident, any business permit holder, any tradesperson’s permit, any blue badge holder, in fact anyone at all – to have access to the code which must be keyed-in to cause The Bollard Which Never Rises to descend, thus allowing access to the parking zone.

I think that this had been overlooked by the staff of the Highways Department. I asked Mr. Mason what the Highways Department staff had in mind for dealing with this situation, as it would mean that virtually everybody in Whitby would need to be given the code to lower the Bollard, which would render the Bollard more or less useless as a means of controlling the flow of traffic on Pier Road – and thus reducing the risk of serious injury to the masses of people who walk along Pier Road throughout the year, which I believe was the original intended purpose of the Bollard.

No immediate answer was forthcoming.

We then moved to the vote, unfortunately, the Chair Penny Marsden (Complete Con.) had forgotten to activate her microphone, so the public were unable to hear what was being said. Several people asked her to switch on but she failed to respond, and we can only assume that Cllr. Plant’s amendment – to assist the needy, three-car family – was passed first, followed by the whole of the revised parking  – also approved. Trebles all round!

So the Park-and-[get taken for a]-Ride scheme is to go ahead. It has been sixteen years in the making; let us hope that it comes in on time (it will not be completed for Easter 2014, as was promised) and on budget – as Mr Mason has it “budget neutral”.

My thanks go to all those who provided us with a  very entertaining and amusing afternoon out, and one which I would have gladly paid £20.00 to attend. Parking was free.

Yours, etc.

Richard Ineson

Whitby. 31st January, 2014.



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