A Real Whitby perspective – by Mike WARD
- Recently-elected Borough Councillor Mike WARD offers his personal view – not as an elected member, but as a PRIVATE CITIZEN – on the important issues underlying Scarborough Borough Council’s recent threats of legal action against Real Whitby and its main contributors the Corruption Busters.
The Real Whitby website is performing a valuable function by, amongst other things, highlighting concerns in local governance across North Yorkshire.
Some may have issues with the banner headlines or the tone of the language used, but if the question is “does the site raise issues that are in the public interest” then the answer is most definitely yes.
It could be argued that, at times, the tone of the language used is too hard, which in turn could come from frustration with the lack of answers and meaningful communication.
That said, it should not be allowed to divert attention away from the key issues being presented.
“Fraudulent”, “corrupt”, “criminal” maybe could be replaced by “ill-advised”, “foolish”, “morally indefensible”; but everyone needs to look beyond the language and ensure constructive dialogue is encouraged. The concerns highlighted must be appropriately addressed.
Whatever words are chosen, there can be no excuse for anyone ‘milking’ the system – any abuse of the public purse must be highlighted and the appropriate action taken.
Public awareness has been raised and the issues below, amongst others, have most certainly deserved investigation, comment and action.
“Me Too!” Vouchers – poorly thought out and badly administered, which in turn lead to serious abuse of the system. NYCC have now admitted this but as there appears to be no evidence to bring any criminal charges it may now be time to move on. We can only hope lessons have been learnt.
Broadband Allowance – fixed allowances of this kind mean that double payments for the same service were made to the dual-hatted Councillors and Councillors living at the same address. A waste of the public purse and morally indefensible. Two Councillors realised this and refused payment from one Authority. Another has now accepted his mistake and paid back the money. Maybe others could acknowledge how their actions were perceived by residents and even now make a charitable donation in lieu of the payments they received. Fixed allowances need to be regulated so this can not happen again going forward. More thought is required.
Mileage Claims – apparently changes are now being made by NYCC to close certain ‘loopholes’. Checks and balances should be in place to ensure that only the shortest route is paid for and again there can be no double claims to different Authorities.
Declarations of Interest – anomalies, oversights, inconsistencies and omissions have been highlighted. Regulations are in place and should be enforced. Councillors have to understand how their actions may be perceived and show some common sense.
Selflessness, openness, transparency and integrity in public life is essential.