Partisan stakeholder steering groups

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I attended the park and ride consultation/exhibition at the Tourist Information Centre.

Will the views of the residents, particularly of the east side of Whitby, be taken into account, this time or will any comments/objections be merely listed in the agenda of the Area Committee meeting which I understand is to take place on the 19th of September, and not discussed at all, as was the case at the meeting of the Area Committee which was held on the 3rd October 2012?

In upholding my complaints against North Yorkshire County Council earlier this year, in relation to another Highways matter, one of the points, which the Ombudsman mentioned in particular, was the abuse of the stakeholder steering group system, which she said could lead to allegations of bias, against the county council.

I have already, in previous correspondence, to the Whitby Gazette, pointed out the secrecy surrounding the meetings of the Whitby Traffic Partnership, the members of which were heavily involved in the discussions relating to the P&R scheme. Then we have the three stakeholder steering groups, the meetings of which were held in private, the minutes/very sketchy notes of their meetings were only made available after repeated requests - and then only in a redacted form.

Many people, including myself, say that the tourist associations were over-represented on these groups.

Two of the SSGs had a specific, designated, representative of the views of the residents in the particular area covered by those particular SSGs. The east side of Whitby had no designated, specific, resident representation.

Then there are other aspects of the so called ‘public consultation’ which give cause for concern.

The County Council’s Residents’ Parking Policy which requires that, at the consultation stage, over 50% of all premises (not just 50% of those replying) should be in favour to enable the necessary Traffic Regulation Order to be proceeded with, was not observed/just ignored/suspended.

Objection/comments sent by letter or email, relating to the P&R parking scheme, which were sent to the Whitby area office, were, for some inexplicable reason, excluded from the consultation document prepared for members councillors.

This means that only the views of those members of the public, responding to the consultation document on the official form - the space allowed for comment on this form incidentally, measures 2.5cms x 15.5 cms, were taken into account, in my view.

I wrote personally to every member of the Area Committee about the 63 parking space allocation, despite having just come out of hospital having had a triple heart bypass, and was in unspeakable pain whilst doing so, only to have Ruth Gladstone, the committee clerk, tell me that she didn’t realise that I expected a reply.

I was unable to actually attend the meeting of the Area Committee held in Gt.Ayton, because of my weak and painful post operative condition, a matter for which I did send my apologies, this episode, in particular I found/find extremely distasteful.

I have looked at the agenda and minutes of all of the meetings at which NYCC claim that the various concerns of the public, in relation to the P&R were discussed and can find no evidence that the 63 parking space allocation for the east side of Whitby was ever discussed.

In addition, Zone A is not ‘adjacent’ to the east side of Whitby, and is hardly convenient for the citizens of Whitby, who reside on the east side, but they are only residents, and will only be responsible for paying, via the parking permits and the Council Tax, for this ill considered scheme, which will only be of benefit to the commercial sector in Whitby.

The hoteliers and B&B owners will have the lion’s share of the car parking, in the town, as was intended, and decided by in my opinion partisan stakeholder steering groups.

Richard Ineson

Church Street, Whitby