Letter: ‘Whexit’ - no confidence in council leadership

Our front page after 'Whexit' calls in the wake of the town council's vote of no confidence in Scarborough Borough Council.
Our front page after 'Whexit' calls in the wake of the town council's vote of no confidence in Scarborough Borough Council.

Re: the ‘Whexit’ calls after six councillors condemn Scarborough leadership - well done to those councillors and to my local councillor Ian Havelock for proposing it.

At last our town councillors are prepared to stand up and be counted.

However, I note that Phil Trumper voted against the motion. Not only is he a Scarborough Borough Council councillor but he is also chairman of the planning committee so he should have declared an interest.

Cllr and Cllr Mrs Smith did the right thing and declared an interest because they work with Scarborough Borough Council through Whitby in Bloom and Action Eastside, the Eastside regeneration programme.

In my opinion, the sooner ‘Whexit’ happens the better and it could be sooner after the forthcoming boundary changes.

Scarborough Borough Council is managed by the directorate of four, Jim Dillon chief executive; Trevor Watson, director; Lisa Dixon, director and monitoring officer and Nick Edwards, director and Section 151 officer (whatever that means). Their combined salaries are more than £330,000 per annum plus benefits.

These four meet regularly to decide the future of the borough but there is no published agenda.

The decisions made are passed to the cabinet, who meet monthly, comprising eight councillors including the leader Cllr Derek Bastiman.

The combined allowances of the cabinet members amount to more than £80,000 per annum.

Agenda are published and minutes taken by one of the five secretaries allocated to cabinet.

Cabinet meets monthly and, as far as I can see, is simply a rubber-stamping/talking shop to show some semblance of democracy.

Cllr Joe Plant (member for Whitby West Cliff) is a member of cabinet who has not fought for Whitby’s interests on occasions, in my opinion.

Cllr Plant is also the portfolio holder for strategic planning and transformation.

The full council meet only six times a year meaning that our elected borough councillors have only six opportunities a year to voice the concerns of their electorate.

Where is the democracy there?

There is now only one overview and scrutiny committee (the others were abolished over the past decade). Why?

There were no scheduled meetings in August or December 2016 and the meeting in November 2016 was cancelled.

Furthermore there is not a scheduled meeting for March 2017.

As we saw in February last year, that committee’s decision to revisit the cabinet decision to relocate Whitby Tourist Information Centre was over-ruled by cabinet a month later.

Good councillors must get very frustrated.

Scarborough Borough Council should abandon the cabinet structure and return to decision making by committees of our elected councillors at monthly meetings.

I’m sure our townsfolk and Esk Valley residents would feel much more comfortable and perhaps be more inclined to vote on polling day if they felt that they were being listened to in a more effective way.

Sandra Smith

Esk Terrace, Whitby