Councils in row over support for landslips

AN EMERGENCY meeting to discuss devastating landslips on the east side of Whitby was “strangled at birth” by Scarborough Borough Council’s failure to attend.

Whitby Town councillors said the no show by borough councillors, officers and Coun Mike Cockerill, who has portfolio responsibility for flooding and coastal issues, was a “disgrace” and showed a “lack of support”.

It has led to a row between the two organisations and Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) issued a lengthy statement following Tuesday’s meeting to emphasise its position.

At the meeting, Whitby’s mayor, Coun John Freeman had said: “It really highlights the complete lack of support that we have had from the borough tonight. I think SBC will be embarrassed by the fact there is no-one here and the excuse for not coming to a meeting like this is fairly lame.”

Coun Simon Parkes said the meeting “had been strangled at birth” because there was no-one from SBC present to answer the questions of the town council and the public. Coun Ian Havelock added: “The failure of anybody from SBC to attend here is a disgrace, there is no other way of describing it.”

Whitby’s town clerk, Pam Dobson, had contacted Coun Cockerill last Tuesday to notify him of the meeting but he couldn’t attend because of an already scheduled meeting in Scarborough.

He said: “Unfortunately I was unable to attend the meeting due to another previously arranged meeting, however I did offer to meet with town councillors the day before.

“I also emailed an update about the landslips issues and offered to answer any questions they may have in advance of the meeting. I didn’t receive any questions to answer as a result of my email, nor did they take up my offer to meet with them.”

SBC says it is shocked and dismayed to be accused of not taking charge of the situation and refuted the claim made by Coun Freeman that there had been a lack of support.

A spokesperson said a dedicated team of borough council officers has spent hundreds of hours in the past two weeks tackling and managing the effects of the landslip at Aelfleda Terrace.

There had been regular liaison with affected residents, homeowners and businesses and a site visit for local councillors.

Coun Cockerill added: “It does not chime anyway with reality.

“The claims are insulting to the many council staff that have worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to address the problems essentially presented to us by mother nature.

“We have used all the emergency and non-emergency powers available to us to help the homeowners of the affected properties on Aelfleda Terrace, ensure the safety of nearby residents, provide accommodation to the family that we had to evacuate from Henrietta Street, maintain dialogue with Barry Brown of Fortune’s Kippers and ensure that St Mary’s Church fulfils all its obligations as landowners of the churchyard.”