As the election of councillors to Scarborough Borough Council draws nearer, many of the Whitby area’s current incumbents are emerging from a four-year hibernation and attempting to present themselves as fearless champions of the local community.
I suggest that everybody looks past their heroic tales of daring-do, and asks each of them a few simple questions:
• What exactly did you do or say to try and prevent the closure of Whitby’s excellent Tourist Information Centre?
• Have you publicly and forcefully expressed your concern about the fact that the auditor has not signed off the council’s accounts for the past three years?
• The footbridge between the East Pier and its extension was removed 18 years ago. Ever since then the operatives maintaining the beacon on the extension, have been obliged to access the structure by undertaking a ‘risky operation’: climbing up long-condemned metal ladders from a boat, denied the protection of intact safety cabling and negotiating condemned hand railing/rotten decking on the gantry. Have you publicly protested about this dire work situation?
• The East Pier is almost devoid of hand railing and there are no ladders to the seaward side. If a person was to fall from the pier there is a good chance that he/she will die. A lone councillor outlined this danger at the last council meeting. What have you done about it?
• A dive survey in 2008 on the foundations of the pier extensions condemned 36% of the sheet piling and identified 95 voids underneath the structure.
The council undertook to conduct a dive survey every five years, in order to determine if they needed to intervene with emergency repairs. The surveys scheduled for 2013 and 2018 have not been carried out. As a consequence the council is not aware of the current status of the sheet piling or the extent of the voids. Have you publicly voiced your concern about this situation?
The issues and the questions are endless: eg the repairs to the main piers, dredging the harbour, the DBID fiasco etc.
Scarborough Borough Council operates an eight councillor cabinet system which effectively restricts both information and power to a very small number of people.
The remaining 44 councillors have been marginalised.
A ruthless three-line whip ensures that councillors are even coerced into voting against their own better judgement: eg the demolition of the Futurist.
The council desperately needs an infusion of fresh blood: strong individuals who know the difference between right and wrong, who respond to common sense, who reject blind party dogma and who will fearlessly defend Whitby.
Cast your precious vote carefully.