Why won’t group meet us in public?

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A FRUSTRATED Whitby Town Council is set to ask members of the Whitby Harbour Consultative Group, which includes members of Scarborough Borough Council and other harbour users: “Why won’t you meet us in public?”

The fall-out from a September consultative group meeting which saw two Whitby town councillors ejected and another leave in protest continues, with WTC’s harbour committee invited to meet with SBC’s Whitby Harbour Board.

However, with harbour board chairman Mike Cockerill asking for this meeting to be held in private, the town council is refusing to budge.

Ian Havelock, chair of WTC’s harbour committee, was one of the councillors ejected from the initial meeting and he said: “There’s some movement of the harbour board to obstruct or discredit Whitby Town Council.

“They’re obviously not prepared to meet with us in public, which was the cause of the first disruption.

“The issue of the public being entitled and unable to attend those meetings is fundamental and something we should not budge from.

“It may be useful to ask the chairman of the harbour board, what’s this determination to hold the meeting in private?

“I’m not optimistic, if they won’t meet in public I can’t see where we go from there.”

As WTC’s representative on the Harbour Consultative Group, Coun Ken Graham is the only member of the council who is currently allowed to attend the meetings, but he said that this isolation stops any measures he proposes from being passed.

He said: “I’m going to propose the terms of reference be changed to allow the public to attend, but I can’t get a seconder at the meetings.

“There’s some alarming things to be reported in the harbour and we need to concentrate on getting their attention and getting them to meet with us.”

At Monday’s group meeting (5 Dec) Coun Graham had proposed that further meetings be opened to the public, but when chairman Jon Whitton asked for a seconder, the proposal was not supported by any of the other group members and so the motion was unsuccessful.

Coun Amanda Smith added: “It seems to me that the harbour board is attempting to exclude the town council from what’s happening in the harbour.

“Whitby Town Council is elected to represent the town as a whole and it’s wrong that they seem to have this feeling that the harbour is nothing to do with us.”

Coun Mike Murphy echoed this sentiment, saying: “This body of people is those who have been voted in to represent the town, but we are being usurped by another organisation. We are doing this because we believe in what we’re doing but we’re not being allowed to do it, we’re being excluded by this other group.”