Tuesday 14th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Roberta the Docile”

“Roberta the Docile”

STORMIN’ NORMAN MURPHY, Alderman, sage and regular contributor to the Enquirer believes he has identified the anticipated “Tail Wagging the Dog” beginnings of Officer-led ‘projects’, including the regeneration of the North Yorkshire coast as a tourist-driven ‘cash cow’.


Well, it is with great sadness – but no surprise – that I have to report that the new Conservative-led Unitary Council, which took over from the old Labour-led Scarborough Borough Council on 1st April, looks set to continue the lunacy, stupidity and secrecy of our previous masters.

The new Council was hardly a week old before they started appointing idiots to important posts and trying to keep everything they do as secret as possible by preventing meetings from being live-streamed:

In regard to appointments, I am, of course, referring to the crazy decision to appoint, ironically on April Fool’s Day, Cllr Roberta Swiers [Con.] (Cayton Division) – pictured above – to be Deputy Chair of the new Council.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing particularly against Roberta, but is she really the best they can find to fill this important post? Having been a member of SBC with her and seeing her up close for many years, I can tell readers that she has hardly been the sharpest tool in the box, an observation I am sure she herself would acknowledge.

What she was thinking of when she claimed that as Deputy Chair she would now be “in a better position to make debates fair and varied” is hard to imagine. A Deputy Chair can go four years without uttering one word. In all our time serving together on SBC, I can’t remember her even speaking in a debate, let alone ensuring the few debates we had were “fair and varied”; all she did was tow the party line.

This detachment from understanding the need for participating in meaningful political debate, and understanding the issues, did not, of course matter when she had no position of power. But now she actually has, at least in theory, some slim possibility of influencing policy, I think we should all be very concerned that she might one day use it.

Indeed, with the huge amount of our money our new Council is playing with, and the consequent greatly enhanced opportunities for wasting even more of it, there are obvious dangers in appointing people to positions of power and influence who are clearly way out of their depth.

In this regard, Roberta has already more than amply demonstrated that she has not got a clue what she is talking about. A few of the gems that have caught my eye recently are as follows:

  • “authority has to stay local”

A bit difficult when the authority she represents sits over fifty miles away from Scarborough in Northallerton; see this map:

Then there is the hilarious:

  • Scarborough needs to be kept at the top

Scarborough has not been at the top of anything worthwhile for at least forty years, unless that is, you count being at the top of the league of deprived Boroughs, top of the lowest-paid workers list and top of the list for knocking down historic buildings.

To add to these crackers we might include the blindingly obvious:

  • “People want to see local decisions made by local people”

– which is, of course, perfectly true but is, in fact, just more empty words unless backed up by practical steps to make this happen. The very thought that Roberta would have the faintest clue where to start in achieving such a complicated political project is to say the least AliceinWonderland thinking.

Appointing Roberta to be Deputy Chair of North Yorkshire Council is nothing more than re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. It will do nothing to save the ship from sinking.

But it might make the passengers, the rate-payers, hopefully, think the crew are doing something to save the doomed vessel, which, of course, they are not. The only thing they want to save is their seats on the Gravy Train.

Indeed, having total incompetents appointed to potentially important posts will almost certainly make the coming disaster even worse, as my old school mate Paul said to me only the other day:

  • “Putting people like Roberta into important posts is like giving a Sunday driver the keys to an F1 racing car and telling her take it for a spin a disaster waiting to happen

However, there is a good chance that Roberta’s inadequacies, and indeed many others, will remain hidden from the public they serve.

This is because the new Unitary:

  • “Council only routinely live streams executive and full council meetings. This means that at the moment, the only chance residents will get to see what is happening in a host of other meetings, including those concerning public health, education and transport, is if they travel to Northallerton”.

The new Council says it is reviewing what is possible and practicable” regarding live-streaming meetings in the future.

However, if you believe that, please come and see the fairies playing with the unicorns at the bottom of my garden.

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