A WHITBY Town councillor stormed out of a harbour users’ group meeting last Monday in protest after discovering it was not to be held in public.
The Whitby Harbour Consultative Group (WHCG) is a meeting of individuals who have a vested interest in the operation of the harbour, but the meetings are closed, which led to the eviction of two town councillors who tried to attend.
Coun Ken Graham discovered this when Ian Havelock and Dennis Collins, who both sit on Whitby Town Council (WTC)’s harbour committee, were evicted and an infuriated Coun Graham, who has campaigned for greater transparency in local politics, said: “I’m not attending secret meetings behind closed doors, it’s not Russia.
“If they’re consulting with people they need to get the public involved.
“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?
“This is why the harbour is falling into disrepair, they’re talking to the wrong people.
“It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Couns Graham, Havelock and Collins all believed they were welcome to attend due to a letter they claim to have received from Whitby Harbour Board’s Tony Hornigold, although the Whitby Gazette has not yet seen a copy of this letter.
As they left, the door was closed and locked behind the councillors.
Scarborough Borough Council head of tourism and culture, Brian Bennett, said: “The meeting of WHCG was not open to the public.
“However, there is a wide representation on the group.
“It includes a member from WTC, as well as representatives from other bodies which have an interest in the harbour, including those which represent the fishing industry and boating fraternity.
“After the three men left the building, the door to the harbour office was then locked as a general security measure as there were no officers on the ground floor of the building while the meeting was in progress.”
Coun Ian Havelock, who chairs WTC’s harbour committee, said: “The issue isn’t necessarily that the meeting is closed, the fact is that myself and Dennis were there merely to observe and I think that should have been allowed.
“But we were shown the door, which isn’t good politics, isn’t good public relations and isn’t good for anyone.”
The WHCG meeting is chaired by local fisherman Jon Whitton, who said: “It would have been far better if Ken had stayed and if he was not happy with the terms of reference he should have proposed a change, as is normal procedure.
“It’s unfortunate that he didn’t stay as I’m sure it would have been a lot more beneficial for the town council.”