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North Yorks Enquirer

WCN: Vision for Whitby

May 18, 2023 Appeals, Whitby Town

WCN: Vision for Whitby

The following information has been provided by Whitby Community Network (WCN) – a voluntary organisation interacting with key local organisations to further residents’ input into decisions and developments in Whitby and the surrounding area and – importantly – holding open and interactive public meetings, on a monthly basis, at the Coliseum Theatre, 1B Victoria Place, Whitby YO21 1EZ. WCN share with the North Yorks Enquirer the principle aim of holding public bodies to account.

Upcoming meeting dates:

  • 12th June 2023 at 6:00pm (Coliseum Theatre)
  • 10th July 2023 at 6:00pm (Coliseum Theatre)
  • 14th August 2023 at 6:00pm (Coliseum Theatre)

Now, read on . . .

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Residents widely consider that Whitby has been badly served by Councils over many years, and poorly consulted with regards to proposed changes. The Town Deal process only served to highlight this specific issue, with solely a superficial and poorly advertised one-day opportunity in Whitby Coliseum to suggest ideas (if a resident even was aware of it) as well as the UK Government “MyTown” website where they could make comments. The input from that consultation was never published, and the subsequently developed projects seemed to have little in common with many of the suggestions that residents were aware of, with a lack of openness and transparency prevalent throughout the exercise. Whitby ended up with 6 projects, only 2 or 3 of which could provide any benefit to local people (and at least 1 of those seemingly will not now happen), using funds that were supposed to reflect “levelling up”.

The simple fact is that if residents are not adequately consulted and involved then projects are unlikely to be well received or valued in the longer term, and we are interested in building a future for the town. There have been ample protests and dissenting voices over the many years of Scarborough Borough Council’s (SBC) tenure to highlight this weakness, and not just in Whitby.

Whitby Community Network (WCN) was established partly to fill this void left by councils, providing a bridge to residents, but run by residents, being apolitical in nature. WCN obtained an amount of funding through one of the Whitby SBC councillors’ local grants, and with that have developed a consultation using the CreateStreets (https://www.createstreets.com/) online mapping software that has been used by many towns and cities around the country to aid in urban redesign.

An advertising video is available on YouTube providing an overview:

The consultation is running throughout May, and will involve the availability of a Whitby Parish specific “CreateStreets” map. Using this map residents can think about what locations in the town they like or dislike, say why, and suggest what could be improved at that location. What should be protected in the town, and what should be improved. The consultation is available on this URL:

Whilst it will clearly be very convenient for people with internet access, there are still many people in the Whitby and District area without such access, particularly given the ageing population that we have. To tackle this important issue, WCN are also making it possible to take part by providing simple input slips at a series of locations where they can also be returned for processing : including Whitby Coliseum, Eastside Centre, Green Lane Centre, Flowergate Hall, Whitby Spa Pavilion, Kirkham Close Community Centre, St Johns Ambulance Hall; all input slips will be entered into the online system manually so that the end goal for the parish is a relatively complete definition of residents opinions.

The consultation is open to all residents of Whitby and District (Whitby Parish and the surrounding 16 parishes). The reason for it being not just for Whitby parish residents is that there are significant numbers of people in the District who either work, are educated, or shop here, and so should have a say.

Submitting an opinion on a single location should take maybe 1 minute, and is totally anonymous. It is a very quick process, but could have long lasting impact for the future of the town.

Whether it’s some road that is very busy and needs a crossing, a green space that could do with some benches, or better paths, better lighting needed to make some place more usable, more free-to-access sports fields, or some facility that Whitby hasn’t got but residents would benefit very much from … this is the chance for residents to have their say.

The consultation has had coverage in the Yorkshire Post, ThisIsTheCoast, as well as Greatest Hits Radio News. Posters have been placed in convenient places around Whitby and District, providing details of how to take part, including QR code for smart device users. We await involvement of Whitby schools.

We want this to be the open and transparent consultation with all Whitby and District residents that “Town Deal” was not, providing data that will guide development in the town for the next 10 years.

Once the consultation has completed, WCN will:

  • publish all data, in full, on the WCN website, because openness and transparency is something we actually work to and, unlike councils, not just talk about.Resident’s views must be visible and respected;
  • analyse the input to establish headline conclusions, feed the findings to Whitby Town Council and North Yorkshire Council, so that the information can be utilised in future funding bids and define the future direction of the town;
  • actively campaign for items where there are common themes amongst the views of residents, be they housing, public transport, active travel, education, and so on;
  • assess the relative success of the consultation and, dependent on the thoughts of the surrounding Parish Councils and available funding, consider performing a second consultation but this time for the Whitby District.

We encourage all Whitby and District residents, young and old, to take part and tell us what they think of where and how their town should develop.

Whitby Community Network

Andy Jefferson
Whitby Community Network
Twitter: @WhitbyCommunity

Facebook: https://facebook.com/whitbycommunitynetwork

 

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