Councillor Tom FOX – gone to ground?
An ‘In My View’ article – by Nigel Ward; summarising the burgeoning confidence-crisis in the Leadership of Scarborough Borough Councillor Tom FOX, and charting the events that are driving it. (Revised article, following overt threat of legal action).
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Scarborough Borough Councillor Leader Councillor Tom FOX has made a number of featured appearances on Real Whitby in recent months, none of them in the least to his credit.
Regular readers will remember Tim Thorne’s superb deconstruction of the Leader’s creative arithmetic in regard to his spurious justification of the “I-Pad’s for Councillors” initiative:
That is an unfinished investigation, but it is clear that the numbers do not stack up by a very wide margin.
Tim Thorne also covered the Leader’s deeply flawed, misguided and (finally) abortive plan to sell the St Nicholas Strasse Town Hall, and the Futurist Theatre still hangs in the balance:
And Tim Thorne played a huge rôle in the infamous DOUBLE-DIPPING investigation – a story with two or three riveting chapters waiting to be told.
One of Tim Thorne’s best coups was his exchange with Councillor Tom FOX during a BBC Radio York ‘live’ interview. Tim caught him fair and square stretching the truth well beyond breaking-point – well, lying his head off, actually – which I covered in detail in my article “Top SBC Councillor out-FOXed – or FOX outed”.
Then Tim Thorne blasted him again with both (metaphorical) barrels in his exposé of Councillor Tom FOX’s own ‘double-dip’ with wife (and former Councillor) Ros FOX:
This is old news, of course. But a gentle reminder of the precursors often serves to provide context to an emergent issue.
So let us not forget that all this has all been accompanied, albeit conspicuously silently, by Councillor Tom FOX’s refusal to be drawn on a series of five questions that I have put to him over the past six months, in the Public Interest:
- “Are you currently satisfied with your appointment of the present Portfolio Holder for Finance, Procurement and Legal?”
- “Are you currently satisfied with your appointment of the present Portfolio Holder Housing, Property Maintenance, Health and Sustainability?”
- “Is it your intention to retract remarks made by you regarding your Allowances in a recent Radio York ‘live’ interview?”
- “In the light of the somewhat belated resignation of the Chief Whip, the Rt.Hon. Andrew MITCHELL MP, in consequence of his unacceptable disrespect in addressing a policeman as a ‘pleb’, do you anticipate that your Portfolio Holder for Holder Housing, Property Maintenance, Health and Sustainability will do the honourable thing?”
- “Would the Leader confirm or deny that, as a former ranking Police Officer in Scarborough, and as long-serving leading Councillor since that time, he was aware that elements within the Authorities were cognisant of concerns of the gravest nature in respect of the activities of Sir Jimmy Savile, yet nevertheless played a leading role in the lavish civic honours bestowed upon a man now widely reviled as the worst and most degenerate sexual predator in the Borough’s history?”
No response. Not one word. He has ducked them all.
These questions are, of course, expressed in a precise, even clinical, form of words for very important reasons; to ensure that only a truthful answer will bear close inspection. Consequently, Councillor Tom FOX has more likely than not been advised to seek refuge in his right silence – notwithstanding the appalling impression that that conveys.
But a colleague of mine has recently offered me a translation into plain English, which he claims captures the nitty-gritty, and which I hope will provide clarity for our readers. Please compare with the (numbered) originals, above:
- “Aren’t you worried that the Jane KENYON revelations will terminally tarnish your image?”
- “Aren’t you worried that your mate Bill CHATT’s rash and deeply offensive email to Tim Hick’s makes your Cabinet come over like a bunch of illiterate thugs?”
- “How can you justify getting caught lying on ‘live’ radio?”
- “Andrew MILLER MP, the Government Chief Whip, had to resign for allegedly saying the word ‘pleb’ – why should CHATT get away Scot-free with actually writing far, far worse?”
- “Own up, Tom. Everyone in Scarborough knows that every copper in Scarborough throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was knew what mega-perv Savile was rumoured to be up to – and you expect us to believe that you alone completely missed out on the talk of the town?
But regardless of the form of words, the fact is that Councillor Tom FOX simply does not believe that such an important and influential man as himself owes any measure of accountability to the electorate at all.
Now, I have a problem with people who concede in public that all men are born equal – yet privately believe that some (themselves, in particular) must rise, as of right, to the top of the great human dung-heap of mediocrity in virtue of their innate and immutable superiority.
That would be offensive enough in the case of a man of exceptional intellect, boundless imagination and exemplary moral rectitude.
In my view, Councillor Tom FOX, judging from our careful examination of his record, falls a long, long way short of that.
No doubt he is a splendid fellow ‘on stage’ at the Leeds Arms – at least in his own estimation – but the facts remain:
- He is a ‘double-dipper’.
- He is a proven liar.
- He is, as Leader of the Council, an abject failure whose lamentable capacity for good judgement has proved unequal to the demands of his exalted position.
The Tom FOX trajectory is past its zenith. From here on, it will be all down-hill.
Now, I know that not all of my readers will agree with me.
But plenty do – witness the number of SBC Officers and crew who have made a dash for the lifeboat in the past twelve months. Gone are:
- David ARCHER, formerly Strategic Director
- Ian ANDERSON, formerly Head of Legal & Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer
- John RIBY, formerly Head of Technical Services
- Pauline ELLIOTT, formerly Head of Regeneration & Planning
- Nicola WILLIS, formerly Head of Transformational Management
- Brian BENNETT, formerly Head of Tourism & Culture
- Roger KAYE, formerly Head of Human Resources
- Gill WILKINSON, formerly Democratic & Administrative Services Manager
- Howard FOSTER, formerly Head of Customer First
- Jonathan LEAROYD, formerly IT Manager
There have, of course, been ribald remarks doing the rounds, along the lines of the old cliché about ‘rats leaving the sinking ship’. (Be assured, though, that those old crewmembers will find safe havens).
But that made me wonder which of his fair-weather friends might have reluctantly, belatedly, but finally recognised which way the wind is blowing for Councillor Tom FOX. Nobody wants to go down the plug-hole through ‘guilt by association’.
So, on Friday 8th February, I visited the SBC website to take a look at Councillor Tom FOX’s CURRENT Register of Interest, as declared for the period 17th July 2012 to 9th January 2013.
Apart from his Conservative Party membership, his home and his many local government appointments, Councillor Tom FOX has commendably little to declare at all.
But then my eye fell on this:
That, too, is highly commendable indeed. And it is especially gratifying, in the light of recent revelations about irregularities in certain other Councillors’ Register of Interests, to note that Councillor Tom FOX has taken care to comply with the requirements (as recently as October last year) and ensure that his Register of Interests does include his long-time participation in the heroic work of the RNLI.
But now my sources tell me that even the Lifeboat is leaving the ship to sink.
If my information is correct – and coming, as it does, through three absolutely distinct and independent sources – including the RNLI Press Officer (North) – one must give it considerable credence – Councillor Tom FOX parted company with the RNLI last year – 2012.
- ¡Adiós, Señor Tractorista el Zorro!
Yet I can find no testimonial or statement of thanks for sterling service to Councillor Tom FOX on the Scarborough Lifeboat website – nor even a dry and non-committal announcement of his departure. One might have expected a gold watch or at least a cheap tankard . . .
Be that as it may, many have indeed been leaving the sinking ship and the Lifeboat seems to offer no succour to the skipper at the helm of our local ‘ship-of-State’.
How does that rate as a vote of no confidence?
- BUT NOW COMES A CURIOUS DEVELOPMENT.
On the morning of Saturday 9th February, I revisited the SBC website to check again on Councillor Tom FOX’s Register of Interests, to be sure of my facts ahead of publication of this article. I was astonished at what I found – Councillor Tom FOX’s Register of Interests had been updated – with no date entered for the change:
What a curious coincidence then, that within hours of me visiting the SBC web-site (and taking the screenshot of Councillor Tom FOX’s Register of Interest – see further up this page), the Register has been changed, with no information regarding the removal date of his declaration of membership of the Scarborough RNLI from the Register.
But be that as it may, it remains the case that Councillor Tom FOX has breached the terms of the Councillors Code of Conduct in respect of his duty under the Localism Act 2011 to declare changes to his Register of Interests within the specified 28 day period of grace.
Obviously, if Councillor Tom FOX left the Lifeboat in 2012, the latest possible date that he could have done so can only be 31st December 2012 – 40 days ago. His 28 days grace period has long since expired.
Is Councillor Tom FOX exempt from the terms of the Localism Act 2011?
Tight-lipped, still, on the matter of any prior knowledge that he may have had about Jimmy SAVILE, Councillor Tom FOX leaves us to wonder what other skeletons will be emerging from the closet.
- And when can we expect Councillor Tom FOX to call for the removal of Peter JACONELLI’s celebrated status of Honorary Alderman of the Borough of Scarborough, as he did in the case of Jimmy SAVILE?