JACONELLI: “Is it so wrong to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’?”

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JACONELLI: “Is it so wrong to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’?”

Is it so wrong to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’?”

  • Mike Ward writes not as an SBC Councillor but as a member of the public, to offer his personal thoughts on recent issues highlighted on Real Whitby and the apparent stand-off between them and our Councils.



Why do our Councils and Police Authority appear to be so defensive ? Can criticism really harm anyone ? Public bodies shouldn’t have anything to hide. They should all willingly embrace Nolan’s Seven Principles of Public Life – Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty & Leadership. They need to listen to their customers, the residents, and engage with them.

If the customer is not always right then there is the opportunity by those in positions of trust to point out why, so everyone can move forward. Questions are too often viewed with suspicion. Full and effective answers are not always forthcoming. This in turn often leads to more (and more !) follow up questions. All too often, too much is read into a question – which can cause the receiver to be unnecessarily defensive meaning a complete answer is not given. A feeling pervades that the customer must know more. Maybe they do; so why can’t an honest answer be given as far as is known and allow the customer to provide more information which could broaden any understanding of a particular issue? The perceived problem needs to be addressed fully from the outset. Everyone’s opinions, views etc should be put into the mix. If allegations are made, then they need to be fully investigated and the outcomes made known.

Communication has to improve.

Much has and is being reported about Savile and Jaconelli. Having read the various articles, comments and emails over the last 15 months, it is almost impossible to believe that nothing was known at the time of their activities. It was a different time and I can understand some issues being overlooked, but sexual abuse and abuse against minors must have been as wrong then as it is now. No one can ever escape punishment for crimes of that nature and the record has to be set straight even if it is after their deaths. The victims deserve no less. They have to be listened to and what happened addressed.

If there was anyone who was aware yet stood back and did nothing at the time, then they have to be questioned as to why. How could anyone be party to abuse of that kind ? Some may quite rightly point to the much good work that both men undoubtedly did for Charity, for residents and for the Council – but this cannot be put forward as an argument to condone or excuse the abusive acts they committed.

At the May Council meeting on Monday May 12, a motion was passed to strip Jaconelli of his Civic Honours and this was my statement at the time:

“This motion is to be welcomed. I was first made aware of sexual abuse by Jaconelli when former Councillor Geoff Evans bravely spoke out in Feb ’13, as reported in the Scarborough Evening News. Thanks are due to Geoff and it is a shame that our local papers didn’t continue a campaign then for the removal of civic honours. At that time other emails were sent to the Council which were passed to the police. Due process can take time but why has it taken so long to get to where we are today ? No one can ever be allowed to escape punishment for sexual crimes or for that matter any crime which brings this Council into disrepute. Having read much around this issue over the last 15 months I am surprised that there wasn’t a court case when this man was alive. After the Inside Out programme in Feb this year Operation Hibiscus was initiated. Everyone needs to know they can come forward with information, that they will be listened to and it will be dealt with in the correct manner. There has to be trust in our Police Force. Speaking to Officers from Operation Hibiscus two weeks ago, they confirmed that without the Inside Out programme nothing might have happened – just shows the power of the BBC; but equally raises concerns which in turn need investigating. The victims and all of us need to give special thanks to Real Whitby. Without the persistent campaigning of Tim Hicks and Nigel Ward there would have been no ‘Inside Out’ programme, no investigation and maybe no motion today.

We can have sympathy for his remaining family – but even greater sympathy for his victims, who have lived with this abuse and the fact they were not listened to for years. I support this motion.’

Many questions remain to be answered and the outcomes of Operation Hibiscus and the IPCC investigation hopefully will provide them.

We all have a duty of care to victims of sexual abuse. Issues such as have been highlighted will never go away and right will out. Society owes a debt of gratitude to those such as former Councillor Geoff Evans and Trevor Harrington, among others, who had the courage to speak out. Even now, more must come forward.

If there are genuine issues to address, long may Real Whitby be there to address them.

Nothing is lost by talking. I have consistently encouraged our Councils to engage with Real Whitby.

Unfortunately, it may have become too personal; which is a huge shame. I don’t always agree with what I read on the site, but have always found those involved very willing to listen. Surely everyone should do the same. If mistakes are made or misreporting occurs, they do apologise. It is unfortunate that some refuse to read the website or just take exception to the headlines without reading further. We need to move forward and talking must help. Things that are wrong have to be acknowledged and addressed with thanks given for bringing an issue into the public domain.

Now has to be the time for openness, honesty and transparency. A time to talk, so the correct outcomes can be achieved. A time when all public bodies work in the best interests of those who put them in the positions of responsibility.

The journalists of  Real Whitby might ’cause annoyance, frustration or worry’ at times, but why can’t our Councils say ‘thank you’ when issues of real concern are highlighted and even resolved? I can fully appreciate that some of the comments posted after an article might cause offence and some definitely do not help Real Whitby’s cause. There should be more thought given when commenting after an article, though sometimes you can appreciate the frustration of the writer. Many of those taken to task in recent articles have most certainly been mistaken, ill-advised or morally wrong – but not everyone should be labelled corrupt without very compelling evidence. This can often cause personal distress to that person and their family. That does not help any campaign. The public should be the ones to judge after reading the facts.

Looking back, there have been other issues brought to light by Real Whitby which did give concern and which have caused a re-think on Council procedures, but no word of thanks has ever been forthcoming to Real Whitby. “Me Too!” Vouchers, Double Broadband Claims and Mileage Claims – to name but three. Poor administration and policies that were not properly thought through. Why not acknowledge the part Real Whitby played in the changes that followed ?

In one particular case, any internal report should have been published as the expense claims, as highlighted by Real Whitby and on the ‘Inside Out’ programme, did appear to be fraudulent.

No Councillor, no matter how experienced or how senior, should be permitted to ‘get away’ with claims of this type. Simply paying back a fraudulent claim cannot surely be the end of the matter. As with Maria Miller MP, it brings the other hard-working and honest Councillors into question.

No one is above the law. We have to have trust in our Council Officers and Police Forces to listen and act appropriately.

Maybe the time has come for a new approach. Public bodies and the media, by working together with a collective responsibility and proper communication, could ensure the aspirations and wishes of the communities they serve are met. Together, future misuse or abuse of position could be eliminated.

There has to be another way. We have to all learn from recent events and change for the better.

It cannot be wrong to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’.”


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.


  1. Adrian porter May 13, 2014 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    very interesting article and many a good point .
    However and I only speak for myself ,Mike has stated
    “We have to have trust in our council officers and police forces to listen and act appropriately”

    I have been through hell with SBC ,Jinm Dillon ignores everything I have sent him and clearly isnt interested,full stop ! The legal department ,put me under their persistent complainants procedure ,to silence me that was up 16 weeks ago ,they will not respond??I am refused FOIA.DPAs ,I actually have data protection papers gathering dust in the legal department for 28 weeks !! and my subject access request,is now over due !The council has broken the law told blatant lies and has not even followed its own SBC procedures !!
    Everything above is Fact,and Im not the only one .
    So when Mike says we have to trust in our council officers,it makes me want to vomit !
    Mike also states “now is the time for openness ,honesty and transparency” Mike I couldn’t agree more ,but lets face some facts ,it is never gonna happen with the council officers we have in place at the moment !!
    I have dealt with liars ,cover up merchants and walking and talking “laws unto themselves”.
    if there had been Openness,honesty and transparency ,I wouldnt have had to suffer three years of hell and nearly lost everything !! And I am not tarring all with the same brush I am sure ,there are some open,honest and transparent officers at SBC ??
    But my dealings have been horrendous to say the least !

    • Sam Spruce May 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Adrian I know exactly what you mean. I have spent ten years of my life being worn down to the point I have no house, no pension, no earnings, and seriously damaged health all because the ‘authorities’ are irresponsible and pre-emptively defensive to the point of pro-active aggression. I am a human being who has all but lost hope and lives in constant distress and despair – all because of warped and corrupt officials. Except I wouldn’t (God only knows why not), I’d have them hanged by the neck in the centre of town.

  2. Adrian porter May 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Sorry just to add that a Cllr went to see David Kitson ,SBC solicitor this is the reply I got

    Afternoon Ady, sorry for the delay in sending a reply.
    I am afraid it is not the news you want to hear.
    Firstly I spoke to David Kitson regarding whether you still had a block on with SBC and all members. Mr Kitson apologies for the delay in the length of time this has taken. This decision is not taken by Mr Kitson, but by the senior directors.
    As a member of SBC ( cllr ), we are not allowed to access individual cases. Therefore Ady, with your ongoing case there is nothing I can or am allowed to do, along with any other members.
    What Mr Kitson did say and has mentioned to you before, is for you to go to the Ombudsman .

    I therefore am at a loss Ady, and am sorry I can not help you.”.

    So no Cllrs can get involved in my case??

    Cllr Mike Ward you state “Now is the time for openness ,honesty and transparency” would you be prepared to go to SBC and look into my case and as a Cllr do you think that my treatment has been fair and even handed by SBC??
    Please dont see this as an attack on you Mike Im just fed up ,constantly banging my head against brick walls ,so to speak.

  3. Ian Detute May 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Excellent article Mike i wish they were all like you (the councillors that is)

  4. Brian Dodds May 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    It was my intention to attend this meeting but, alas, a doctors appointment got in the way, it would have been refreshing to see a councillor stand up and speak with such eloquence. The points he made have been bones of contention for a very long time, instead of openness and transparency the general rule is behind closed doors and cameoflaged to the extreme. I agree that it can never be wrong to say thankyou or sorry, but it has been common practice among our council officers to say nothing at all and admit to nothing. I don,t doubt there are hard working upright people doing the job of town councillor, but it is my belief that they are far outweighed by those who work to their own agenda. An excellent article by a man who still believes that councillors are elected to serve the best interests of the people, I applaud you for your integrity sir.

  5. Nigel May 13, 2014 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Over the five years during which Mike and I have been discussing a wide range of concerns (and thereby getting to know one another) we have come ever closer to a meeting of minds. For a man of such tact and charm, he can be as hard as a diamond when it comes to the simple issue of right and wrong. He will take any ‘allegation’ to anyone and ask in a forthright but reasonable tone for a straightforward explanation – which he sometimes gets.

    I should point out, for the avoidance of any doubt, that Mike and I are not in the least related to one another – only in our shared belief that public service has no place for the self-serving. If I knew a dozen like him – or even a handful – I might even stand myself.

    I just hope that these few words of endorsement do not serve as a rod for Mike’s back – I would not want for one moemnet that his ‘stock’ should suffer for having aligned himself woith the good guys.

    And most of all, I hope that the electorate of whichever ward Mike opts to stand for next May has the nous to recognise that there is no candidate to compare with him in the entire Borough.

    Mike: Salute!

  6. Glenn Kilpatrick May 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    Excellent thought provoking read Mike, thanks for giving us your honest thoughts on many matters within this article. It must always be remembered that to the best of our knowledge the articles here are always factual, well researched with the majority of the information already on the pub record. And, as has been stated on many occasions, if we get it wrong we will retract and issue an apology, Nigel is on camera on The BBC clearly stating that. But to know we have it wrong the council and or individual councilors have to open correspondence with us. To date the only knowledge I as owner of Real Whitby have of any correspondence with Scarborough Borough Council has been the times when they have written to make various threats such as having us closed down. In 2014 this is no way to do business and Councils across the country must be aware that in this day and age, with the prevalence of social media there will be much more of the same forthcoming for them in the future. I don’t recall a single time other than that threat of closure that they (SBC) have ever sent anything else into our inbox or through my real life front door. This is the true measure of what we are dealing with here. Ignoring the voice of the people or trying to close them down will simply not be an option for any council as we move forward, this is not North Korea or 1940’s Germany, this is England and the date is 2014, the people aren’t happy and they have a way of voicing it now. With regards to the commenting system for the site Mike, it is the place for people to comment and offer opinion. This is a right of every member of our society here in the UK. Opinion is something we all have, but it must be remembered that opinion is often all it is. Our articles are the place for hard facts and the comments section is the place for people to express their thoughts, feelings an opinions. I as owner of the site encourage that, so song as it is in line with the laws of the land. In 2014 If we took offense at every comment and personal opinion ever made we would never be out of a court room, Perhaps its about time some councilors grew a pair and engaged with the comments, or simply accepted that not everyone in the world is going to hold the same opinions as themselves. Get a grip, move on, or move aside and let someone with the ability to not personalise every daft comment get on with doing the job.

    Also sorry for such a long winded reply. Just to close off. I’m sure as the readers have come down to my comment here, they will have seen those comments above by Adrain Porter and note once again the council has stone walled another member of our community. Those reading this should be very aware that my drive to make Real Whitby happen back in 2010 was brought about by something very similar. It was, in part, reading about Tom Brodrick here in Whitby and his being banned from communicating with the council that first made me think about the website. If the council had engaged with the likes of Tom back in 2010 the need for a Real Whitby likely would never have arisen, but as we speak in 2014 the words of Adrain confirm there is as still a great need for this site and that there is clearly a very long and winding road ahead. Long Live Real Whitby, and Many thanks to Mike Ward… Keep up the good work.

  7. Tim Thorne May 14, 2014 at 11:24 am - Reply

    The point about improving communication, with substantial action on the Council’s part, is the path that Council must take if they are serious about restoring public trust in the Council. Only through transparency will they restore that trust. It shouldn’t be the general public or this organ driving that change, it should be the Council.

    Good article, Mike.

  8. Richard Ineson May 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I was at the meeting, Mike Ward was the only Councillor present who made any worthwhile and meaningful contribution to the debate, the rest was just mealy mouthed platitudes, except for Cllr. Chatt (yes, he who has a fixation on breast feeding) who was unable to vote for the motion because paedophile Jaconelli had once given him a job. The persistent refusal of many of our Councillors to even acknowledge the existence of Real Whitby reminds me of the attitude of the leaders of the Church to Galileo’s claim that the earth revolved around the sun- they wouldn’t look through the telescope. While ever we have Councillors who are unable to face facts, SBC and NYCC are not going to get anywhere, deals done behind closed doors, secret meetings, the STAKEHOLDER STEERING GROUP system by means of which democracy is by passed have to go. Many of the Councillors and some of the senior staff at SBC and also NYCC, have become used to doing as they please, the tail has been wagging the dog for many years, but times are changing, the internet will see to that. I have been told blatant lies by Councillors and Council staff, they expected me to believe them because they have been getting away with it for years, and were speechless when I confronted them with their lies. It is time that our Councils, as Conservative controlled Councils, started to follow the policy of the Coalition Government in relation to openness and transparency, sunlight is the best disinfectant, pull the blinds up and let it in.

  9. Zen May 14, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Anyone with any experience of council business,
    knows that fear is always the driving force,
    not Love of Truth.
    Concealment and cover-up comes easily,
    particularly where serious criminal offences occur,
    because protecting the institution
    always takes precedence over upholding law.
    I had a crash course in this,
    when I caught a district council chief planner
    falsifying planning committee minutes,
    and over the next five years,
    observed a range of lies and perjury,
    that ended
    with Special Branch blackmailing my father,
    so that I could be criminalised and ruined,
    to prevent the council being found liable.
    So I know how councils and police work,
    and it is a filthy business.
    My parents and I never spoke again,
    and both are now dead.
    And the one district councillor
    with the courage to support me?
    As soon as I was finished,
    the chief planner set about blatant revenge,
    bulldozing the councillor’s house to the ground.
    He soon died,
    and his widow was forced away from the area,
    because it was hinted the permission was corrupt.
    So I applaud Mike Ward,
    because I know he will not be popular
    amongst the conformist bureaucratic mentality
    that has straitjacketed local government.
    REAL-WHITBY is a shining example
    of what ordinary people can achieve,
    and hopefully,
    hundred of local areas will follow suit.
    Keep up the good work!
    Zen 🙂

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