Harbour users group hits back

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A GROUP of Whitby Harbour users have responded to suggestions that their meetings should be held in public.

The Whitby Harbour Consultative Group received a lot of publicity recently when two Whitby councillors attempted to attend a meeting, only to be told to leave after discovering it was not to be held in public.

Speaking at the time, councillor Ken Graham, Whitby Town Council’s only representative on the group, said: “I’m not attending secret meetings behind closed doors, it’s not Russia.

“It’s supposed to be a public consultative group discussing plans for the harbour for the next 20 years, so why were the public excluded?”

The meetings are chaired by Whitby skipper Jon Whitton, who suggested that if Coun Graham wished the meetings to be held in public, that he should propose this at a future meeting, which he did last Monday (5 Dec).

Mr Whitton said: “The discussion centred around group members feeling inhibited if the public were present, and also the practicalities of finding a larger venue which would have to be paid for.

“One member suggested that the entire terms of reference would need to be rewritten.

“Finally, Coun Graham, representing the town council, proposed that the group open the meetings to members of the public as observers and asked if someone would second his proposal.

“I was the chairman and so I can’t vote and took a neutral stance.

“Everyone else declined so the motion was unsuccessful.”

The consultative group contains harbour users, from organisations such as Whitby Chartered Skippers, Friendship Rowing Club, Parkol Marine and members of Scarborough Borough Council’s Whitby Harbour Board.

The group has no decision-making powers but is intended to allow different harbour users to discuss harbour issues and customer concerns with members of the harbour management.