Letter: Eskdale School consultation should be open for ‘democratic debate’

Eskdale School.
Eskdale School.

So the Eskdale School consultation document is now out and the timetable has been set.

However, the people of Whitby need to be aware - this is consultation in name only.

To illustrate my point, a slight digression from Eskdale is illuminating. As we know, we have had endless “consultations” about the future of our hospital.

Fit 4 the Future has produced endless paperwork, even a pretty postcard and run a few “roadshows”.

At a recent Scarborough Borough Council Scrutiny Committee, I tackled their representatives about the outcomes and impact of the results.

I was told that these exercises were not really consultations but engagement tactics. Therein lies the story. They have predetermined the outcome and we have been invited to participate in an exercise that is ultimately meaningless.

Which brings me back to the Eskdale consultation. Clearly, to me, this lies in the same domain - a predetermined outcome being dressed up in the sheep’s clothing of consultation.

For a consultation to be truly meaningful, the various options must be set out. The Eskdale consultation document fails the test.

It simply does not provide the basis for an open, honest and democratic debate about the future of young people, families and communities in Whitby.

In order for this to happen, Mr Dwyer, the chief education officer, and his colleagues should provide information that sets out the pros and cons, with attention to all options available, ie a choice of outcomes from a legally constituted consultation as opposed to a predetermined outcome from a long held view that a one size fits all model is the way forward.

Much of the pre-amble to the scant consultation paper presents a biased view in favour of amalgamation, which clearly supports Mr Dwyer’s views.

This really is yet another cruel case of letting the people of Whitby believe they have a voice, when the reality is that the strength of feeling is being ignored.

The Eskdale campaign must and, I am sure, will go on. The maths is quite simple:

One choice = no choice

Eskdale + Caedmon = choice

Two heads are better than one.

Cllr Rob Barnett

Esk Terrace, Whitby