The Great SBC Land Grab [Pt.2]
by NORMAN MURPHY
As referenced in my previous article “The Great SBC Land Grab [Pt.1]”, there are growing concerns throughout the Borough that what our current Labour leader, Steve (The Champagne Socialist) Siddons, has in store for us in his last remaining months in power will not be pretty.
The hated £6.5 million pound “Harbours Master Plan” which, if implemented as Siddons wants, will almost certainly devastate our local fishing industry and severely damage seafront businesses, looks set to be inflicted on both groups, no matter what they say or do.
The, so called, “consultation” between the Council and these two groups is, in reality, a sick joke, a “heads the Council wins; tails the harbour users and sea-front traders lose”.
The ARGOS redevelopment scheme, which will see the Council borrow an estimated £30 million to build Coventry University a block of 200+ flats, looks set to be forced through planning no matter how many objections are raised by Old Town residents.
Concerns over parking, traffic congestion, lack of amenities and the virtual absence of social facilities looks set to be brushed aside by Siddons and his Officer chums in a “we know best attitude” which suggests that Old Town residents will “do what we say”, regardless of what they might want.
The £37 million Town Deal Fund money recently awarded to Scarborough and Whitby will be distributed as Siddons sees fit. No meaningful “consultation” with residents will take place on any level.
The anti-terrorist planters, giant ashtrays as some call them, rumoured to be specially imported from Italy, and installed on the High Street in Scarborough, are a prime example of how Siddons and his merry band intend to waste Town Deal money. Jobs for the boys – or what?
Anti-terrorist planter already cracked and ‘repaired’
However, it is Siddons giving away of the Borough’s land assets in “The Great SBC Land Grab”, which many suspect will have the most long-lasting and damaging effect on the Borough’s future prospects. Siddons’ Land Grab will see eight of the Borough’s most valuable pieces of common land, estimated to have a value on the open market of £38 million, gifted away to a Quango, the Joint Venture Partnership (JVP), so they can build, so they say, ‘Affordable’ Social Housing.
And, if you believe that is the real motive for the Great Land Grab, then come and see the fairies at the bottom of our garden.
So, as can be seen, should this mix of loony left-wing social policy plans and obvious scams, thought up probably by our Officers to help fund their imminent retirement, be implemented, then the Borough’s future prospects do not look very promising.
I concluded my previous article by intimating that there might be ways in which these rather frightening proposals could be stopped. I now offer a couple of ways in which Siddons get-rich-quick schemes might be scuppered.
THE PLAYING FIELD
Perhaps the first thing to clarify, when reviewing how the current Labour administration may progress, is the very precarious position of Steve (The Champagne Socialist) Siddons, our existing power-mad Labour leader.
As most readers will know, the Council is made up of 46 elected members. However, the Labour Group over which Siddons rules has, in fact, just 13 members. Consequently, although Siddons has managed somehow to gain control of the Council, his grip on power is, to say the least, a very fragile grip.
Indeed, as has been pointed out on many occasions, how is it that with only 13 members, out of a total of 46 elected Councillors, can Labour leader Siddons, and his loony left wing buddies, be in control of the Council?
Well, in the first place, it is all to do with the maths.
As can be readily seen, as there are 46 SBC Councillors, Siddons requires the support of 11 additional members to give him the 24 votes he needs to maintain a simple majority.
Now it might be thought that getting the support of an additional 11 members of the Council, might be a tall order, especially as Siddons is clearly incompetent and has dictatorial tendencies.
However, as we have seen – and as we are currently seeing – Siddons, against all the odds, and against all common sense (many would argue), has managed to find the support of the 11 members he needs to cling to power. So far!
This support from elected members, members we elected to do what we want, I might say, has come from several sources – both politically aligned groups and non-aligned individual members.
In the political group category are our two Green members. To add to his motley band of 13 Labour elected members Siddons has been able to count on the support, and votes, of the 2 Green Councillors, Will Forbes and Neil Robinson, both representing the Falsgrave and Stepney ward.
So why, I hear you ask, do the Greens support Siddons? Well it is, I have to say, something of a mystery to everyone, including myself. They certainly have not got anything out of the Siddons administration – no rewards for being loyal acolytes seem to be evident. Neither has been given a chairmanship of a committee, which is probably just as well as I don’t think anyone, including themselves, think they could handle one.
And yet, like lap dogs, our two Greens have slavishly backed Siddons in every major vote. Anyway whatever their motives they, thus far at least, have supported Siddons and consequently bring his vote up to 15.
Then there are the 7 members of the Independent Group led by Janet Jefferson. Their motives for supporting Siddons are a little easier to fathom. Of the not-so-magnificent seven, three have been given portfolios so their votes are, so to speak, “in the bag”.
Likewise three of the other Independent Group members have also received Chairmanship’s or Vice Chairs from Siddons so their votes can also be counted as “in the bag”.
Why the one remaining Independent Group member who has not been given a post supports Siddons is again, like the Greens support, something of a mystery.
Nonetheless the support of these 7 brings Siddons tally up to 22.
Siddons remaining support comes from 2 of the 3 non-aligned Independents, former Conservatives Hazel Lynskey (Scalby ward) and Helen Mallory (Seamer & Ireton ward).
I know this in itself is amazing; two die-hard Tories supporting Labour’s Siddons and what the electors who voted for them as Conservatives think is anyone’s guess. But I don’t think, having spoken to a few of them, that their views should be listened to by anyone who has a delicate nature!!!
Anyway, with the support of these two ladies, Siddons gets over the line and can count on 24 votes; enough votes to give him the slim majority he needs to keep him in power.
So, through a combination of group solidarity, enforced, I am told, by the use of threats and intimidation in the Labour camp, and the liberal use of bribery in the Independent Group, and of course the mystifying support given by the Greens, and others, which defies all logic, master Siddons remains in power.
However, as we know a week is a long time in politics, and allegiances, can, and do, change for a whole variety of reasons, and in Siddons case all that it would take for his rule to be over would be for two of his current supporters to jump ship.
THE PALACE COUP SCENARIO
So might this happen? Well, yes – it certainly might; as very shortly Siddons’ capacity to intimidate, bully, but more importantly to reward, will soon be gone.
As we know, and as our current elected members also know, SBC will no longer be of any consequence after May 2022 when the new Unitary Authority comes into being.
This rather inconvenient change will, of course, create a massive problem for Siddons as currently he can buy members support by rewarding them with a post which gives some of them a feeling of power and importance and, perhaps, more significantly, earns them a few thousand extra quid a year.
However, when the new Unitary Authority is formed next year seats are tipped to be worth perhaps £20k per year, and chairmanships, possibly £50k per year. This scale of reward will, of course, make what Siddons has to offer look like chicken feed.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that as the real power, and the big money, will only be available in the future to those who get elected to the new Unitary Authority, that many SBC members are considering their position, in other words looking to ditch Siddons.
Indeed, the approach of the new Unitary Authority in May 2022 places before existing SBC members, who may wish to get elected to the new authority, a stark choice. Stick with Siddons and be tarnished by his incompetent and dictatorial style of leadership, or cut loose now in the hope that the electorate will have forgotten by next May that you were part of the shambolic regime.
My guess is that with such huge sums of money on offer, several members who have, thus far, been Siddons supporters, will already be thinking of jumping ship. In fact, I would be amazed if this was not, very much, the case.
So how does this effect Siddons grip on power?
Well you do not need to be a political genius, or indeed a mathematician, to work out that if even one of Siddons current supporters deserts the cause his whole ramshackle regime is in trouble and could quite easily fall.
However, my suspicion is that several current SBC elected members who have, up until now, supported Siddons are, as we speak, putting on their life-jackets.
And, as far as Siddons cunning little plans are concerned, and especially his Great Land Grab, should even one of them go over the side, he, and his dastardly schemes, will, as I see it, be well and truly up the creek without the proverbial paddle.
A change of leadership would obviously follow Siddons dethronement and no incoming leader, unless he/she was totally stupid, would pursue any of Siddons schemes.
THE BY-ELECTION SCENARIO
The second possible scenario which would see the end of Siddons is the near certainty that if a by-election occurred the result would almost inevitably change the balance of political power.
As we know the current makeup of the Council has remained unchanged since it was elected in May 2019. This, as anyone who follows the statistics of Scarborough Council, as sadly I do, knows, is a very unusual state of affairs.
Normally, and quite predictably, at least one elected member of the Council relinquishes their post every 12 months. Consequently as this shower have been in post for over 26 months we should have had at least two resignations and therefore two by-elections.
Why this normal rhythm of Council turnover has not happened over this 26 month period is of course impossible to say with any certainty. However, a good guess, I would suggest, is the fact that for most of its existence the current body of elected members, because of the Coronavirus, have not had to physically attend Clown Hall meetings.
Consequently not being obliged to attend meetings physically has made the obligations of being an elected member a very simple and relaxed undertaking.
Members can Zoom into the few meetings that have been called from the comfort of their own homes. There is no need for members to exert themselves or to travel they can just Zoom in and out as they please.
This relaxed and easy way of conducting Council business has, of course, suited some members, especially Siddons supporters, who have not had to publicly defend their backing for Siddons crazy schemes.
Having no face-to-face meetings in the Clown Hall has allowed members who represent wards which are going to be hardest hit by Siddons loony left policies, Castle Ward for example, to easily dodge constituents complaints and concerns.
Indeed, supporting Siddons, so far at least, has been “easy”, money for old rope in fact.
However, the good times are coming to an end. The Government has now decreed that all Councils should resume meetings, in public, and members must attend. This order has, of course, been stubbornly resisted by Siddons as he knows that face to face meetings will soon reveal the total waste of space this Council is.
Although his officers have done all they can to put off the evil day, time has now run out, and Council meetings will, from now onwards, be held face to face with all members obliged to attend.
And attending meetings in person, let me assure you, makes being a Councillor a much more onerous proposition.
Having to justify their existence, one suspects, will, in the coming months, be a little too much for some of our esteemed elected members and it would not surprise me if some of them chuck their Council hand in.
Should this happen, and I think, knowing many of the individuals involved as I do, that it is a very real possibility, then Siddons power base could very quickly disappear.
THE END IS NIGH?
So as the above demonstrates it is very clear to see that the Siddons tyranny hangs by a very slender thread. Should the current crop of elected members choose, they can, whenever it suits them, depose the tyrant. Likewise should the electorate be given their opportunity to replace any of Siddons supporters then my guess is that they will relish the prospect, and give their support, and vote, to any candidate who opposes the dictator.
Siddons is, in fact, as I see it, drinking at the last chance saloon and I think it will not be too long before someone calls time.
Oh, and speaking of time, as it is strongly rumoured that a certain Villa in Tuscany is now nearing completion, it might be kind if someone told the Italian builders to hang fire with the marble work as there might be a bit of a hiccup with regard to the Villas final payments. Just saying!
Arrivederci suckers, as they say in Tuscany!!!