Crawling Into The Gutter With Whitby Town Council

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Crawling Into The Gutter With Whitby Town Council

The letter below regarding unacceptable conduct of the Whitby Harbour Board is from Nigel Ward to SBC Councilor Mike Cockerill. Further reading on the subject can be done at the following links :

Councillor Mike COCKERILL – SBC & NYCC



As you know, I attended the meeting of the (pilot) Whitby Harbour Board (WHB) on Monday 3rd October 2011.

In the aftermath of the disgraceful series of letters from certain members of the WHB to the Whitby Town (Parish) Council (WTC), I was astonished to see that Mr Edwin Black and Mr Tony Hornigold had taken their seats on the Board.

It was my expectation that, being mindful of the scepticism and mistrust with which the Board is viewed by the people of Whitby, their resignations would have already been tendered and accepted.

Later in the day, I attended the meeting of the WTC Harbour Committee, where I came into possession of a letter dated 3rd October 2011 from Mr Ian Anderson, SBC’s Head of Legal & Support Services, that contained the most insincere and derisory pasquinade of an apology that I have ever encountered:

“I apologise on behalf of the Borough Council for any misunderstanding that may have developed in relation to the arrangements for attendance at the WHUCG (Whitby Harbour-users’ Consultative Group).”

Mr Anderson apologises? It was not he who gave offense.

On behalf of the Borough Council? It was the WHB delegation to the WHCG who gave offense.

‘Misunderstanding’? There has been no ‘misunderstanding’.

Mr Anderson is, of course, referring to the ‘misunderstanding’ that Mr Brian Bennett, SBC’s Head of Tourism & Culture, attending the meeting by invitation, took it upon himself without any authority, to evict two elected members of Whitby Town (Parish) Council, with the equally unauthorised assistance of Mr Edwin Black? What was Mr Bennett’s rationale for that action, he must have known that the Whitby Harbour Board was entitled to only one representative – not the three who were allowed to attend – just as was the Whitby Town (Parish) Council.

Or is Mr Anderson referring to the ‘misunderstanding’ of Mr Edwin Black’s subsequent letter to Whitby Town (Parish) Council, with its flagrantly offensive language and its ludicrous and entirely fictional allegation regarding Councillor Havelock “growling into the back of Mrs Dale’s head”?

I leave till last the incomprehensible ‘misunderstanding’ of the now infamous letter the message of which came to light at last night’s WTC Harbour Committee meeting – I refer, of course, to the letter from Mr Tony Hornigold to Whitby Town Mayor John Freeman, in which Mr Hornigold informed the Mayor that he has :

“no desire to crawl into the gutter to communicate with Whitby Town Council”?

“Crawl into the gutter”? Have your members taken leave of their senses? Were they sober?

Have you ever in your entire career encountered such utterly unacceptable and unjustifiably provocative conduct? Is this how the Whitby Harbour Board expects to conduct its duty of consultation with the elected representatives of Whitby, the Whitby Town (Parish) Council?

You must know that such conduct is intolerable.

If the (pilot) Whitby Harbour Board was not predestined (one might say ‘doomed’) to failure from the moment of its inception – as many predicted and now confidently await – then Mssrs Bennett, Black and Hornigold have certainly succeeded in speeding it on its way.

When you courageously raised your head above the parapet in 2009, to caution against the imprudent appointment of Mrs Pam Dobson as Whitby Town Clerk, Mike, you may have inadvertently booked yourself a passage on a sinking ship – a ship that we well know would never have been sent to sea with a Conservative Councillor at the helm.

Unless it is your purpose to render the (pilot) Whitby Harbour Board a by-word for autocracy and unaccountability, your only honourable course is to demand resignations without further delay.

Kind regards,


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  1. Richard Ineson October 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    The Harbour Board has not got off to a good start, this can be attributed, in part, to their high handed, bordering on arrogant, handling of the public in general and the Whitby Town Councillors, in particular.

    I was present at the WTC meeting where Cllr. Carson, quite rightly, expressed his concerns, which I can assure the Harbour Board are also the concerns of the Whitby electorate, about the difficulties which the Harbour Board may face in progressing their plans, to make Whitby a key player in the servicing of the putative wind farm industry, centred on the Dogger Bank.

    Cllr. Carson asked David Archer if the Harbour Board had considered how they were going to facilitate the use of the narrow Whitby Streets, in this case Bagdale, by the heavy commercial vehicles, which would inevitably, be needed to deliver the necessary supplies, involved in the wind farm servicing operation, to the harbour side wharfage.

    David Archer, in to my mind, an unedifying display of bad manners, ridiculed Cllr. Carson, in such terms as, ‘we are not proposing to bring 100 metre long windmills into the centre of Whitby’ and other comments, he also implied that Cllr. Carson was using sarcasm in the manner in which he posed his questions to the representatives of the Harbour Board.

    I subsequently, sent an email to Mr.Archer, pointing out the validity of Cllr.Carsons remarks and also drawing the attention of Mr.Archer, for the need for a comprehensive traffic management plan to be put in place, in Whitby, before any plans were pursued to fill the streets of Whitby with more 40 tonne juggernaughts.

    I received no reply to my perfectly polite and hopefully, helpful suggestions, and enquiries.

    Since then, we have had the confusion surrounding the apparent need for the Harbour Board to hold secret meetings, and the apalling situation, where two well respected WTC Councillors, who had taken the trouble to make time to attend, as members of the public, what should have been a public meeting, yet who were thrown out onto the street, followed by ludicrous suggestions that their behaviour was unacceptable, including the unbelievable suggestion that Cllr. Havelock had ‘growled into the back of Mrs. Dale’s’ head’.

    Then of course the astounding fact that control of the meeting, which should have been in the hands of the Chair, John Whitton, was usurped by Council Officers, and the fact that the Harbour Board had three representatives at the meeting, when the Constitution allows only one.

    As I have said many times before, the present system of local government in this area, whereby, unelected, unmandated, unaccountable, anonymous persons, gathered together under the heading of Stakeholder Steering Groups, Consultative Groups, Strategic Partnerships, Focus Groups are allowed to make decisions involving the expenditure of vast sums of public money and apparently, make decisions favouring vested interests, must cease.

    The local Councils have become, for the most part, mere decorative institutions, passing on decisions prepared beforehand by these secretive organisations, and in consequence, they give only formal sanction to the collective will of certain sections of our society.

    This is not meaningful consultation, it is sham democracy, and it is not acceptable.

    We need a clear and unequivocal statement from our Council leaders, that all meetings of any body/organisation, which may have any influence on any decision of any of the Councils, must be open to the public and that minutes of these meetings must be kept and that the date, time and venue of all such meetings must be publicly advertised.

    • Nigel Ward October 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Ever the gentleman, Mike has acknowledged my email – though, naturally, without comment . . .

      • J.S.Fawcett October 7, 2011 at 5:25 pm - Reply

        @ Nigel:

        I am sure you will not have overlooked the fact that Mr Anderson has confirmed in writing that “Communications on behalf of the Harbour fall within the remit of the Harbour Master (Captain Ian Vasey) and his Head of Service, Brian Bennett”, and “For the avoidance of doubt, as you will understand correspondence between the Borough Council and the Town Council is properly conducted officer to officer, so that the content of that correspondence details the developed thinking of the Borough Council on any issue”.

        I doubt that the Borough Council is happy about having been placed on the record as not wishing to crawl in the gutter with WTC! Or is that really part of its so-called “developed thinking”?

        What the hell did Black and Hornigold think they were up to, banging out such vexatious vitriol on SBC headed note-paper – and behind the backs of Vasey and Bennett?

        Time for the old heave-ho, methinks.

  2. DKP October 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I can feel a letter to Badwill coming on…”Dear Bob, do you condone the antics of the Whitby Harassment Board…etc…etc”. Warch this space…

  3. Francis L. Chalmers October 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    @ DKP – DONE!

    Subject: Whitby Town Harbour Board – Abuse
    Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2011 22:16:57 +0100

    Dear Mr Goodwill MP,

    I am emailing in relation to this article:

    Can you confirm that you condone or condemn these antics?

    Would you support a call for resignation in relation to this matter?

    I cannot support this behaviour in any way shape or form, and would like to know if you, as our local MP, will support me and others in the town to call for these people to resign.

    Thank you for your time.

    In sincerity,

    Francis L. Chalmers

  4. Bob Roberts - Scarborough October 6, 2011 at 11:01 am - Reply

    As an active member of the Scarborough Harbour Community which has an aspiration of also becoming a Port Trust.
    Is this kind of behaviour what we can expect from the appointees who undoubtedly SBC will impose upon us.
    Where is Councillor Cockerill in all this, surely as Chair he should be taking charge of HIS board and ending this unacceptable behaviour from the members of HIS board…or is he just an observer?
    C’mon get of the bench and take charge.
    Remember being a Councillor is by and large a participation sport.
    Bob Roberts

  5. Nigel Ward October 6, 2011 at 11:20 am - Reply

    More on this in the second half of my email to SBC’s Head of Legal Ian Anderson, earlier today:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Ian Anderson
    Cc: selected WTC Councillors; Whitby Gazette
    Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2011 11:04 AM
    Subject: WHB Complaints Procedure [1] + FOIA1715 request (Irton Tree Legal Costs etc) [3]

    Mr Ian ANDERSON – Head of Legal & Support Services – SBC


    Good morning.

    I will be returning to the matter of the ‘informal’ meetings of the (pilot) Whitby Harbour Board in due course; more immediately, we have yet to conclude the matter of the Council’s appalling performance in respect of its forays into the world of litigation.

    Having heard nothing further from you on the subject, I must conclude that you take no issue with the sum of £88/hour internal legal officer charges, indicating that the costs to date on the ‘Irton Tree’ fiasco stand at £8,155.20, by your reckoning.

    But I now learn that the matter will not end there:

    If I may quote:
    “North Yorkshire County Council wants Scarborough Borough Council to pay towards of the legal costs of the case, which are thought to be about £225,000.
    It says the borough council made the case more expensive by placing a preservation order on the tree in 2007.

    Scarborough council said it would fight any claim for costs.

    A court hearing is expected to begin in December.”

    I would be grateful if you would provide me with the following information. This is a request under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, with all of the concomitant obligations it places upon the Council; however, in the interests of a speedy and amicable resolution, I would look favourably on any attempt on your part to be co-operative and transparent in your provision of the information I am about to describe. Think it over; it may be best to respond both ‘informally’ and speedily.

    So, in order to keep my request as simple and free from excessive burden as possible, please provide the following information:

    1) Since Mr Dillon assumed his position as CEO and Head of Paid Service, what is the total outgoing expenditure (internal and external costs summed together) of all court proceedings pursued by the Council?

    2) What is the total incoming ‘revenue’ accrued by the Council in respect of damages, costs, out-of-court settlements etc, for the actions included in (1) above?

    3) Please state the foregoing as a simple profit/loss account.

    4) I would expect the Council to have secured some sort of indemnification and/or insurance in respect of legal costs. Please explain the mechanism and costs of such indemnification as the Council has adopted.

    For clarity, I am seeking to bring into the public purview a more comprehensive grasp of how well (or poorly) the Council discharges its duties. That is an objective that I have no doubt we share – do we not?

    On an unrelated but rather pressing matter, would you please be so good as to explain to me the correct procedure in regard to the lodging of formal corporate complaints against members of the (pilot) Whitby Harbour Board who are not SBC Councillors (ie elected members of Scarborough Borough Council). Specifically, how may one address breaches of those sections of the Code of Conduct dealing with lack of respect, intimidation/bullying, bringing one’s self and/or one’s Council into disrepute, etc?

    I note that you have made reference, en passant, to this topic in your letter of 3rd October 2011 to the Whitby Town Clerk:

    “Your members will of course recognise the provisions of the Code of Conduct for members of both the Borough and Town Council and the primary principle of treating other with respect. I am sure your members will recognise the importance of members appointed to sit on Committees of both organisations paying careful regard to these provisions.”

    I recall having it carefully explained to me (by Richard Smith) that complaints should be pursued even in the event of precipitate resignations – so that those against whom complaints have been lodged do not escape with impunity and without succumbing to due process, only to return to office after a discreet ‘sabbatical’ – which would pervert the objectives of the process.

    I would appreciate your best possible guidance on this matter. You will, no doubt, have been apprised of my Open Letter to WHB Chair Cllr Mike Cockerill. You will find the text here: . From the corporate perspective, how should I best proceed? I must say that I believe it would be a sad reflection on the Council’s commitment to upholding the Code of Conduct if it were left to a member of the public to instigate a Complaint.

    On behalf of your Council, Ian, I would like you to provide me with a statement-for-publication of the Council’s view on the conduct referred to in my Open Letter. (My information is that a member of the public has already sought the opinion of Mr Robert Goodwill MP. I will be happy to furnish you with a copy of Mr Goodwil’s response, if and when that comes into my possession).

    Specifically, does the Council condone or condemn the language adopted by the writers of the letters referred to in my Open Letter? (“growling into the back of Mrs Dale’s head”, “no desire to crawl into the gutter to communicate with Whitby Town Council”, and other similar remarks).

    I look forward to your prompt and transparent responses. Thank you.

    Kindest regards,


    • Anthony Littlewood October 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Any reply yet Nigel or are they still ignoring you.

  6. Francis L. Chalmers October 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Just got back from Leeds and by the sound of it it looks as though Horny Tonigold is about to have his nuts handed to him on a plate. Although, this is just supposition.

    • Anthony Littlewood October 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      Who is Horny Tonigold and what has he done to deserve this treatment.

  7. Cllr Tom Brown October 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    As a fluent speaker of ratatouille I detect a discarded condom which is not a strange item to us here in the gutter at WTC. But you see Whitby Town Council I’m afraid represents all 12,000 of you human beings whereas Scarborough Borough Council only represents Parishes so of course North Yorkshire County Council represents Boroughs and Cities. And that means that Parliament is as out of touch as it can be.

    We Parish councils have been asked to identify areas where new housing and developments should be built (including shopping parades to accommodate Eastern Europe tastes.) Check on it and think on it.
    The Prime Minister insists that the new planning laws are only a proposal until he collates the results of ‘Used condom, gutter dwelling,barely elected and co-opted Parish councillors’.(Take a deep breath he means YOU) where upon he will say ‘The Locals Have Been Consulted’ and So we Should Listen to Them and make it Law. Excuse me I feel sick!

  8. Blobber October 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    There will be no windfarm on Dogger Bank and even if there was it won’t be based in Whitby, mother of baby jesus why would a multimillion pound international company base itself in a port where the harbour walls are falling down and the river is tidal d’oh.

    Someone with considerably more power than those here has gifted this little nugget of misinformation to the dimwits in Whitby and they all believe it as if Santa Claus himself was real.

    Meanwhile, over at SBC HQ where more important people work they are planning much more development work in Scarborough, rolling roadworks and housing developments. Whitby? Where the hell is that..oh..that little place on the edge of our map, my lord, we’d forgotten about that old sock, discarded it years ago along with somewhere called..err..F..FU..F…Filey! that was it.

    Wake up everyone. SBC aren’t even listening, they don’t actually give a flying monkey, they don’t even know who any of you are. They have more important things to do, book holidays and such.

  9. Cllr Tom Brown October 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Well Said
    If the Whitby Gazette publishes my letter of 3 days ago. He won’t usually print my letters.

    To the editor
    Low down on the river bank at Ruswarp there is a pump control room,
    this control room operates the submersible pumps that provide Whitby
    with its drinking water.
    I would be surprised if Yorkshire Water or DEFRA would look on the
    Harbour Boards plans with any enthusiasm. The flow in the river is
    restricted by pontoons and moored vessels as it is, the more pontoons
    and moored vessels the greater the restriction and certainly a weir or
    lock would not help.
    When heavy rains coincide with high incoming tides and wind off the
    sea the Esk may well flood and Whitby stands to lose its Water supply
    by a disabled control room. This loss is not like an electrical power
    cut, the loss of pump control would be a serious disaster.
    Contrary to Harbour Board statements there is very little support for
    recreational boating activities in Whitby however there is support for
    the traditional, job creating, tourist attracting fishing industry. I
    know this because I spend lots of time talking to both indigenous and
    settling Whitby residents.The decline in Whitby’s fishing industry is
    a direct result of Scarborough Borough Councils disingenuous
    activities such as making the landing of fish not worth the
    fisherman’s while.
    Peterhead in Scotland (a population of about 18,000) hosts around 60
    fishing vessels three of which are Whitby boats. Fish do not have any
    preferences as to where there are caught or landed. However red
    herrings seem to be the catch of the day but which is the red herring
    windmills or pontoons?

    Tom Brown
    The Old Manor House
    3 Boulby Bank Top
    Whitby YO22 4EZ
    01947 600884

  10. Bob Roberts - Scarborough October 11, 2011 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Tom in his comments is only partly right here, I would agree that both YW and DEFRA would look on the proposals to hijack the funding previously designated for environmental improvements into providing more pontoons to lay empty.
    However the fishing comments are in correct, Whitby & Scarborough fishermen now land in Peterhead because the fish caught commands higher prices. In fact one Scarborough fishermen has resettled totally into Peterhead. The reasons behind higher prices is simple, more buyers. Scarborough & Whitby have been void of buyers in any numbers and buying in any quantities for some years. SBC held “summits” back in 2007 from which several suggestions came forward and the reasons previously mentioned came out of those meetings. Not a single suggestion was ever taken up by the council. They have known for some time and simply reacted with crisis maintenance to either the infrastructure policy or even strategy where it exists. Make it up as they go along is the policy within the “Puzzle Palace” on St Nicholas Street.
    Agreed 18000 inhabitants of Peterhead, how many of those however are fish buyers and processors ? I reckon far more than Whitby. The problems of the fishing industry and SBC strategies for the industry covers both ports, neither of which are immune from the other.

  11. Cliff Street October 11, 2011 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Blobber has it bout right as far as SBC not knowing much about what’s needed in Whitby is concerned. There is a reason for this which I have set out before but which no one seems interested in. Its not an intentional down on Whitby as most people here seem to suggest or a plan to milk Whitby. Its simply ignorance.

    Most people in Scarborough don’t ever think about Whitby there is no reciprocated antipathy as is often suggested. I Know many people who live there who never come to Whitby, even some who’ve never been here.

    The reason for the situation is ignorance and this is brought about by the structure of the Council and the disposition of its staff and resources.

    Until this is addressed there will be no change.

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