A Real Whitby perspective – by Mike WARD (private citizen)

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A Real Whitby perspective – by Mike WARD (private citizen)

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.

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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.

MIKE_WARD_private_citizen

About the Author:

Website Admin for the Real Whitby Website. All authors of the Real Whitby Website have access to publish on the website. Individual authors will usually sign off their articles with their own names.

23 Comments

  1. Real Whitby Webmaster May 19, 2013 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Great article Mike and in itself promoting debate. I would agree with most of what you say. I am however still feeling very uneasy about The Me Too Issue. Im not comfortable with a simple declaration in the gazette and an apology. I really want to know about this £113,000 paid to mini monsterz. I want to know more about Joe Plants involvement. I dont like him avoiding the questions and his stament of “go to the police”. If he is confident of no wrong doing then he should be open and declare the full story. I want the full story, I really feel we should be told. I would love to see a full breakdown of all expenditure under the me too scheme, itemised by service provider and easy to read and understand. Is this £113,000 not ringing alarm bells for anyone else ??. What was the budget ? was it over spent ? what were the top 10 payments made to service providers across the time scale of the project. Im uncomfortable with the whole thing and think there is more to come on this one yet.

    With regards to your article as a whole. Its great, I wish other councilors would do the same. Im open to criticism of the site, no problem. But yeah your right, the main idea is to highlight stories that often wouldn’t see the light of day. We aim to promote sensible and rational debate.

    We could do with more input from you Mike. How about a weekly or monthly column ? the site is what our contributors make it.

  2. Mike Ward May 19, 2013 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Me too !!
    We need openness,honesty and transparency.
    I too agree more financial information should be easily available.It is there but it takes time to put it all together.The figures and facts speak for themselves.
    Mike

  3. Real Whitby Webmaster May 19, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Sign of a good author too, willing to join in the debate.

  4. Tim Hicks May 19, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for your support.

    You mention “Me Too!” Vouchers, “double dipping” of Broadband Allowances, mileage claims and declarations of interest which are all issues raised by Real Whitby which should rightly have been brought out into the open. I would add Jaconelli, Savile and the investigation into the North York Moors Planning Committe, as other examples of a free press in a democratic society raising issues which should be prperly brought out into the open.

    I would emphasise that Real Whitby has always published every response even if it was critical and anyone can post a comment on the website if he or she disagrees with anything that has been written.

    Some of the articles we have run have been deeply embarrassing to Scarborough Borough Council and some Councillors. Hence no doubt the reason for the Council’s attempt to close Real Whitby on the 28th of March by writing to our ISP demanding that they “terminate” the website.

    Censorship by closing down news forums is unacceptable in a democratic society.

    The Whitby Gazette and Scarborough News do not do this type of investigative journalism. Closing Real Whitby will make Scarborough and Whitby the only part of the UK where Councillors are not subject to the scrutiny of the press. This is contrary to the public interest, which is why no doubt Scarborough Borough Council subsequently issued a press release denying it had asked for the website to be closed, although analysis of the correspondence shows that in fact it had asked for it to be “terminated”.

    Thank you once more for your kind comments.

    Best regards,

    Tim

    • Mike Ward May 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Hopefully more local people will come forward re Savile et al to assist the investigations

      As a Councillor I did raise three questions re Potash at Full Council on May 13.
      Mike

  5. kathleen parker May 19, 2013 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I totally agree the “ME TOO VOUCHER” scheme needs investigating further, we have a right to know what was provided for a staggering amount of money. Also why did Joe Plant chase for payment? That in itself speaks volumes,C’mon Joe we WANT answers and till we know this subject should not be dropped.

  6. Davey lad May 19, 2013 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Nice article, i agree its nice to see some thoughts from councillors, yes this was written as a citizen but still.
    The metoo fiasco is very worrying and I bet the figures would make interesting reading, even from the point of view of how many hours in the day can people paint pots divide by 113k. my moneys on them being flat out 24/7 painting till now!
    What does it take the police to launch an investigation?
    Personally all dignity and respect I had for Joe plant has dissolved along with the dreams of those unfortunate kids the vouchers were supposed to help. Great work Joe- stand down, pay back your double dipping and hand your self into the police with your confession.

  7. Jon Risdon May 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Well done to Mike Ward: we can always rely on him for a calm, common-sense and rational exposition, guaranteed to stimulate the debate on these essential issues without raising the temperature. More power to you, Sir!

  8. Nigel Ward May 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    To be clear, Mike and I are not related by blood – or marriage. We are, though, well acquainted with one another’s views, which differ less and less as we proceed with our debate. Whilst fully endorsing Mike’s appeal to reason, I suspect that he may find that he has not endeared himself to those whose conduct most urgently merits further scrutiny. Nevertheless, his mild manner may bear fruit where compliance with the Complaints Procedure has failed. Let us hope so. Well done, Mike!

  9. J Robert Dyson May 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Can Mike Ward confirm if he is a Mason?

    • Mike Ward May 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      I am not.
      Mike

  10. J.G.Harston May 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    All the allowances and expenses irregularities would have been impossible when I was a councillor – or in any other organisation. You hand in your original receipt to get the payment. You can’t hand the one original receipt into two different authorities.

  11. Vanda May 20, 2013 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Hi Mike and congratulations. “As a Councillor I did raise three questions re Potash at Full Council on May 13.”

    Please would you care to elaborate?
    (The Minutes of SBC meetings are not always reported in matters of interest.)

    Many thanks

  12. Mike Ward May 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Questions to Cllr.Derek Bastiman.

    As the Portfolio Holder reports there are reasons to possibly welcome the Potash proposals provided as he says certain criteria are met. We certainly do not want to adversely affect the tourism economy on which so many depend. This however is already predicted to decline by 15%

    1. Firstly can the Portfolio Holder confirm whether the Council have responded to the very latest reports coming out from York Potash ?

    Estimates of spoil have doubled from 600,000 cu metres to almost 1.2m cu metres.We know the intention was to form mounds with the spoil but can we now expect Whitby’s very own Himalayas or maybe even worse more traffic movements.

    2. Secondly does he believe the concerns of residents re traffic movements are being adequately thought
    through.Maybe more thought has to be given to the siting of the minehead ?

    An extremely large increase in traffic flow has now been highlighted and there will only be one ‘official’ route to the mine via Mayfield Rd and the new bridge which is already a highly conjested area at peak times for tourists and residents alike.

    3. And finally has he had confirmed by NYCC the start date for the Whitby Park and Ride which is so closely linked to the traffic management strategy for this development ?

  13. Vanda May 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks Mike, What was Bastiman’s response? :

    A; did he stare blankly ahead suggesting he did not know what the hell you were talking about?

    B; did he look to his right at Jane Kenyon after she had kicked him under the table?

    C; Did he look to his left at Tom Fox who I can only imagine threw his laptop on the floor to divert attention from what you were asking?

    E; Did you see his eyes flicker with $ symbols as he fondled his wallet whilst thinking of the deals to be done on Whitby Business Park?

    D; none of the above?

    • Mike Ward May 24, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

      The answer is D. None of these

      Cllr.Bastiman had had notification of my questions and had obviously taken the time to speak to Officers and colleagues at SBC and NYCC.
      He gave a very full reply but to summarize he said that all at SBC were giving proper consideration to all the numerous Potash reports,including the most recent, and replying with their comments as appropriate.
      NYCC were reviewing all traffic information giving due weight to their traffic management plan.
      Whitby Park and Ride was on schedule with works starting in September for a proposed operational date of April/May 2014.

      • Nigel Ward May 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

        Further to Mike’s last point, I now have this from NYCC Corporate Director,David BOWE:

        “Further to your emails of the 1 May and 30 April 2013, I can confirm that the Whitby Park and Ride project continues to programme. The programme involves consultation with the public regarding on-street parking regulations, consideration and agreement by the County Council Area Committee followed by the construction of the site itself. If the project progressed positively this would mean the site would be operational at the end of March beginning of April 2014. I hope that information is helpful.”

        The points to pick out are:

        i) “The programme involves consultation with the public regarding on-street parking regulations”

        and

        ii) “If the project progressed positively . . .”

        Clearly, there is a will at County Hall to push the P&R through – and the zonal on-street parking with it – come what may. Such public consultation as takes place is unlikely to offer a transparent explanation of a system within which private citizens will be called upon to pay for a chance of finding a park no greater than they have at present – free. Nor is it likely to explain the mechanism by which hotels and guest houses will be favoured to the disadvantage of private citizens, who will thus be worse of than ever.

        I hope that Richard INESON will consider preparing an article for publication that explains all of this in detail.

        Richard?

  14. David Perry May 21, 2013 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Now you’ve mentioned it I’ve only just realised the Gazette doesn’t do the great investigative journalism it should be doing. Nor does it appear to want to ‘rock the boat, by upsetting some folk either. Perhaps they don’t relish the thought of legal action either.

  15. wendy May 21, 2013 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Or are the Editor of the Gazette and Scarborough News, certain Councillors and members of NYMPC ALL IN IT TOGETHER?

  16. Andrea Smith May 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Funny How many of the same stories are published in some regional and many national papers whilst the whitby Gazette wont touch them. Many of the saville stories that appeared on Real Whitby many months ago are now finding their way into the national papers. Private eye has publsihed many of the stories too including double dipping and Jane Kenyon. also i note that the whole threat of legal action has gone very quiet too. Perhaps the Gazette and the councilors are all in each others back pockets

  17. Madge Bishop May 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    You cant be prosecuted in a court for telling the truth David

  18. davey lad May 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    long may this site continue, it certainly picks up the proper news that the gazette run away from.

  19. Richard Ineson May 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I will be dealing with the continuing saga/fiasco of the Park and Ride Scheme in the near future. I agree totally with Mike and admire his integrity in putting his thoughts into print. Another matter which needs dealing with, in this area of local government, is the undermining of the democratic process by the use of unaccountable, unelected, unmandated and anonymous groups of people with vested interests, who make decisions involving the expenditure of millions of pounds, whose decisions are then ‘rubber stamped’ by the relevant Council or Committee. This practice has been criticised by the Ombudsman in my recent successful complaint against NYCC. I shall be writing further about this iniquitous practice in connection with the so called Park and Ride ‘public consultation’. Meanwhile, you can read my previous article about this evil and malevolent misuse of power under the heading ‘KENYONOCRACY’.

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