Wednesday 29th May 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Time for Truth”

“Time for Truth”

An Open Letter to the Mayor of Scarborough, Councillor Eric BROADBENT [Lab.] from NIGEL WARD. An appeal on behalf of the many – not the few. A shot at redemption, no less.

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Councillor Eric BROADBENT – Mayor of Scarborough

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Eric,

It is unfortunate that I am constrained to addressing you in your Mayoral capacity in the public domain; an inevitable consequence of Officers of Paid Service having ‘deemed’ me to be a “vexatious complainant” and, on those grounds, preventing my public interest communications to you (and all other members) from reaching their intended recipients in a timely manner.

Scarborough Borough Council is rapidly approaching its abolition, but there is still time for truth. Hence, my communications to the Council are now of an uniquely time-sensitive nature.

Elected members of all political stripes, including your own, have been expressing the view that they are unable to represent their electors effectively on account of the inexplicable paucity of information provided by Officers on a whole host of financial, legal, ethical and moral issues.

The parlous state of the Council’s rendition of Annual Accounts, now challenged on many fronts, is the subject of much concern to the public at large and, in particular, to business proprietors in the tourism sector in particular – many of whom face the prospect of a desperately uncertain future, including the ongoing threat of legal action.

The future administration of both Whitby and Scarborough Harbours is clouded by the threat of unwanted infrastucture changes under the ‘regeneration’ proposals set out within Town Deals interventions based on spurious information.

MAZARS LLP, the Council’s External Auditor, is apparently in receipt of valid formal Objections regarding accounting procedures conducted during his service as s.151 Officer and Director of Finance by Mr Nick EDWARDS – the incumbent head of Paid Service and Chief Executive Officer.

These Objections include (but may not be limited to) the following alleged irregularties:

  • the Whitby Harbour Undertaking (erroneous treatment of ring-fenced of revenues);
  • the Minimum Revenue Provision (erroneous treatment of asset-depreciation);
  • the North Bay Railway (undisclosed – even to Audit Committee);
  • the Scarborough Harbour Undertaking (erroneous treatment of ring-fenced revenues);
  • the Yorkshire Coast BID company (erroneous invoicing – the incorrectly scoped KPMG Report withheld from all members).

Each of the above (and other issues which I do not refer to within this Open Letter) contains elements that, following seven years of suppressed questions, are far from clearly understood by elected members – and far less so by the wider public.

Money has been squandered on unrealistic proposals; the futile East/West unitary proposal; the purchase of Pavilion House and the former Comet building (and 1a St Helen’ Square); the demolition of the former Indoor Swimming Pool, etc., etc. . . .

In your capacity as Chair of the Council – a position demanding political impartiality – and, most particularly as a member of the Labour Group that leads an Administration claimed by the Leader, Councillor Steve SIDDONS [Lab.], to be “Open and Transparent”, it is surely time for you to embrace this invitation to exercise your prerogative to convene an Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council.

Members may then call upon the statutory Officers (Mr Nick EDWARDS [HoPS and CEO], Mrs Lisa DIXON [Monitoring Officer and Director of Legal & Governance] and Ms Kerry METCALFE [newly-appointed s.151 Officer and Director of Finance – replacing Mr EDWARDS, after his many years in that role]) to provide, in the public forum, such explanations as they can to account for the wide-ranging litany of cataclysmic error that has brought the Council to its present appearance of dire incompetence, or worse.

I pass lightly, for the moment, over the seemingly endless list of missed opportunities: no North Bay development; no Flamingo Land development; no Hilton Hotels deal; no Filey Road ‘Sports Village’; no HQ Hotels development (Nick THOMAS’ withdrawal); no Cinema; no Market Square . . . and no answers.

You may wish to consider granting a Special Dispensation permitting members of the public – myself included – to raise questions from the floor. If answered truthfully, these questions will prove illuminating. Expect a long session.

Should you decline to do so, as I feel sure you will, please be aware that the Constitutional alternative is for five members to convene an Extraordinary Meeting for the above-mentioned purposes. They stand ready.

Time for the truth. However distasteful, however disreputable, however ignominious, all elected members (and those for whom they have struggled to provide effective representation) have a right to know.

Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. Peut-être.

This may be your last meaningful act at the close of your largely blameless service as a Borough Councillor. Make it fearless, honourable and true. It will be remembered.

This is your shot at redemption, Eric. Seize it!

Yours, with kind regards, Eric, your old chum (Lest Auld Acquaintance…)

Nigel

 

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