Public calls for “Whexit” came to the fore this week after Whitby Town Council backed a vote of No Confidence in the Scarborough council leader and cabinet.
The town v borough council revolt reflected concern at delays in repairing the Whitby piers and a lack of information from the borough council.
Following the vote there have been calls from the public for a Brexit -type independence dubbed “Whexit”.
The town council motion was carried at the monthly town council meeting held at Pannett Park, with the Scarborough governance of Whitby called into question.
Whitby’s council used to be an independent body, with greater decision-making powers prior to local government centralisation.
Putting forward the proposal, Cllr Ian Havelock said that he has grown tired of an ethos of “evasion and secrecy” within the borough council, and called on his fellow councillors to back the motion.
They did so, with six votes in favour, four against and two abstentions.
Those in favour included three former Whitby mayors.
Cllr Havelock cited a number of grievances about the way he perceives the borough council to have treated Whitby, chiefly raising concerns over the lack of restoration to the piers and the difficulty in obtaining information from the borough council.
He made reference to borough Cllr Rob Barnett, who had presented his findings from a meeting with borough council officers earlier in the meeting. When asked by Cllr Havelock if he had found it difficult to obtain information needed from the senior officers, Cllr Barnett replied: “Yes, I think we struggled to get transparency and that was the nature of the exercise. I certainly don’t feel that I came away knowing much more than when I went in.”
Speaking about the shortfall of funds required to commence work on the piers, Cllr Havelock said: “Where the piers are concerned we were told this balance is required, and in the same breath discover that SBC had committed £4 million to demolish and redevelop the Futurist Theatre site. As far as I’m concerned the borough council is treating Whitby with disdain.”
Cllr Havelock’s views were backed by Mr Ron Wilkey, a member of the public who travelled from Scarborough to deliver a passionate speech calling on the town council to back the motion and drain what he called “the swamp.”
Speaking of his frustration when attending borough council meetings on the Futurist Theatre, Mr Wilkey said that he found council leader Derek Bastiman and his cabinet to be “arrogant, apart from a couple of exceptions.”
He added: “They really need to go.”
When discussing Cllr Havelock’s motion, a number of objections were raised by other councillors in attendance, including Linda Wild who said: “I do not believe this motion is in the best interests of Whitby. What would be gained if we voted against the council?”
Cllr Wild’s views were backed by Cllr Phil Trumper who said: “I think Cllr Wild is spot on, I don’t think it is within our interest to vote in favour of this motion, we need to maintain communication with the borough council to achieve things.”
Despite this opposition, the full council voted in favour of the motion.
An online petition calling for a vote of No Confidence in the borough council has now attracted 2,269 signatures.