NYMNPA: Decisions, Decisions . . .



NYMNPA: Decisions, Decisions . . .

  • an up-date report by TIM THORNE on the extraordinary saga of three members of the North York Moors National Park Authority who seem to have been unable to resist the lure of a piece of the potash millions.

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Readers may remember some of the coverage we gave to members of the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) in 2013. Members of the Park Authority were expected to decide upon proposals for a new potash mine within the confines of the National Park in July 2013. The York Potash planning application was later withdrawn, but they will apply for planning permission in the near future and it is expected to be decided upon during Q4 2014.

The initial coverage during March 2013, concerned former Cllr Tim Lawn of Scarborough Borough Council (SBC), who was also Chairman of the NYMNPA Planning Committee.

An article highlighted that former Cllr Lawn was gifted tickets to an Elton John concert held at Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre on 5th June 2011 by a director of York Potash. It later emerged in a BBC TV Programme that the tickets were given to Cllr Lawn as he had recently signed a minerals rights agreement with York Potash.

The article also highlighted that former-Cllr Lawn had made some rather fortuitous business decisions concerning recent land purchases. Having bought plots of land near to the proposed mine head, former Cllr Lawn stands to make in excess of £1million in minerals rights should the mine be given planning permission.

The decisions were fortuitous because the closer your land is to the proposed mine head, the quicker you’ll receive monies from York Potash for the exploitation of minerals rights. In the short term, the value of his land will have substantially increased due to the mineral rights.

Shortly after the article was published, Cllr Lawn resigned from SBC which effectively ended his tenure with the NYMNPA as he was appointed to that Authority by SBC.

It later emerged, and was featured in another article, that former-Cllr Lawn had also registered a minerals company at Companies House, but had not declared the company in his Register of Interests.

The NYMNPA and SBC Monitoring Officer, Lisa Dixon, reported former-Cllr Lawn to North Yorkshire Police (NYP) regarding his failure to register Hollybush Minerals. This was investigated by the NYP and former-Cllr Lawn was cleared of any criminal intent in the matter despite ‘technically breaching the law’.

A further article, in April 2013, highlighted that two other members of the Park Authority may have participated in a Park Authority decision concerning York Potash, despite possibly having a pecuniary interest in York Potash.

Cllr Helen Swiers, of North Yorkshire County Council, and Mrs Jane Mitchell, a Secretary of State appointee to the Park Authority, participated in a decision on the 24th September 2013 concerning York Potash.

Cllr Swiers has substantial land holdings in the south east of the National Park and is expected to receive a sum in excess of £1million for minerals rights from York Potash, but it is not expected the monies for mineral rights will be paid for many years due to the distance of her land from the proposed mine head. In the short term, the value of her land will have substantially increased, due to the mineral rights.

Mrs Mitchell had no reported interests in York Potash at the time of her York Potash decision, but ten days after the NYMNPA meeting, and six days after a pre-application presentation to members of the NYMNPA, Mrs Mitchell declared she had acquired £4,000 worth of Sirius Minerals shares.

During March and April 2013, complaints were made to North York Moors National Park Authority, Scarborough Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) about the conduct of those NYMNPA members, highlighting the issues raised in the Real Whitby articles.

NYCC responded to the matter immediately and stated that whilst Mrs Swiers was indeed appointed by them to the Park Authority, NYCC would not field a complaint on the matter as it was a matter for the NYMNPA to decide upon.

A year later, and after much badgering, the decision notices regarding the Standards complaints have finally been received from the NYMNPA Monitoring Officer Lisa Dixon. Apparently, all three complaints have been much delayed due to the NYP investigation into former-Cllr Lawn’s non-declaration of Hollybush Minerals Ltd.

LAWN_MITCHELL_SWIERS

Decision: former-Cllr Tim Lawn

The outcome of the investigation would be that the Monitoring Officer would write to former Cllr Lawn and remind him of his former obligations under the Authority’s Code of Conduct. The decision notice also states that ‘all members of the authority’ should receive additional training in relation to the Authority’s Code of Conduct.

Regarding the land purchases, the Monitoring Officer and the Independent Person appear to have investigated the matter and stated there was no evidence to show Mr Lawn had obtained an advantage. They also stated Mr Lawn had no access to documentation other than what was in the public domain at the time.

The decision is, then, that former-Cllr Lawn’s land purchases around the proposed mine head at Dove’s Nest Farm, which were made before the proposed mine head was announced officially by York Potash, are just rather fortuitous business decisions on his part, from which he stands to gain over £1million in minerals rights.

Surely the most qualified people to determine whether there has been any foul play regarding the land purchases would be the North Yorkshire Police. Having asked the Monitoring Officer to explain why the land purchases were not referred to NYP at the same time as the non-declaration of Hollybush Minerals and received no reply, I cannot enlighten you any further on that salient point.

Decision: Cllr Helen Swiers

The outcome of the investigation would be that the Monitoring Officer would write to Cllr Swiers and remind her of her obligations under the Authority’s Code of Conduct, which confirms that the original article about Cllr Swiers was accurate in that Cllr Swiers didn’t declare a pecuniary interest in York Potash whilst making a decision about York Potash.

The Monitoring Office goes on to state that there was no evidence to show that Mrs Swiers had obtained an advantage by virtue of her position as a member of the Authority, which contradicts the reason for reminding Mrs Swiers of her obligations under the Authorities Code of Conduct.

The decision notice again states that ‘all members of the authority’ should receive additional training in relation to the Authority’s Code of Conduct.

Decision: Mrs Jane Mitchell

The outcome of the investigation would be that the Monitoring Officer would write to Mrs Mitchell and remind her of her obligations under the Authority’s Code of Conduct.

The investigation concluded that Mrs Mitchell didn’t confer an advantage upon herself as a member of the Authority when she declared £4,000 of Sirius Minerals shares, shortly after receiving an invitation to attend an exclusive pre-application presentation to members of the Park Authority from York Potash regarding their proposed mine.

The investigation also concluded that Mrs Mitchell didn’t make the York Potash decision on the 24th September 2013 holding a pecuniary interest in Sirius Minerals, which confirms the shareholding was acquired after the meeting.

Given those two statements, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for the Monitoring officer to remind Mrs Mitchell of her obligations under the Authority’s Code of Conduct.

So, it seems it is perfectly fine for a member of a National Park Authority, someone who is considered a champion for promoting the conservation of the Park’s natural beauty, the Park’s wildlife and cultural heritage, to go out and buy shares in a mining company that wants to dig up their National Park. If the shares prosper, they make a few quid and miss out on all the planning meetings too…

It should be noted that none of these complaints appear to have been put before the NYMNPA Standards Committee for their deliberations. The decisions were made by the Monitoring Officer and Independent Person of the North York Moors National Park Authority without reference to elected members.

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Other Real Whitby Articles:

From York Potash With Love

From Scarborough Town Hall With Anger

More NYMNPA York Potash Conflicted Interests

Open Air Theatre Losses Exposed

BBC Inside Out North East & Cumbria 10/02/2014

DIXON_WILSON

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9 Responses to "NYMNPA: Decisions, Decisions . . ."

  1. alan  March 29, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    there comes a time when you are sick of reading injustice when certain people are getting away with taking the michael for want of a better word out of the general public why is there not public outrage,its like everyone has turned into the walking dead with no feeling or emotion no care in the world to all the corruption,lies and social injustice being committed in the name greed.

    Reply
  2. david brierley  March 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    bloody hell, what a den of iniquity, corruption and cover ups. Bent greedy councillors buying land with dodgy undeclared income….and what a shock being told that they will make over a million in mineral rights, when all they really wanted was to buy land without peat plunderers forcing them to stand aside while their newly aquired land is ravaged, against its new owners wishes,, damn it all, he’s only just bought it and now this horror is being forcibly inflicted on the poor man. Its No wonder the upstanding law enforcment of North Yorkshire are leaving the poor sod to grieve his unfortunate sufference of the peat plunders.

    Reply
  3. Andrew Readman  March 29, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    When you think of all the rules people have to comply with while living within a National Park if you want to alter your door s or windows,but seems these people are above the law and see no problem in the damage that a patash mine would cause,JUST VERY GREEDY SELFISH PEOPLE

    Reply
  4. Andrew Readman  March 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    When you think of all the rules people have to comply with while living within a National Park if you want to alter your door s or windows,but seems these people are above the law and see no problem in the damage that a potash mine would cause,JUST VERY GREEDY SELFISH PEOPLE

    Reply
  5. Nigel  March 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    As time goes by, the ‘quality’ of these snow-jobs deteriorates to the point where they are no longer even remotely plausible. The Transparency International definition of corruption (the most universally accepted – not least for its simplicity and clarity) states:

    “CORRUPTION is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

    If this already tainted Monitoring Officer expects anyone to believe that these Members, having acquired information in far greater depth and detail than was available to the overwhelmingly vast majority of the public (whom they allegedly serve), did not utilise that information for private gain then she has lost all touch with reality.

    Frankly, I do not give a damn whether or not the Formal Complaints against them have been white-washed. The Monitoring Officer and the (so-called) Independent person can kiss my donkey. In the court of public opinion, Tim THORNE has laid out the facts and the jury – the public at large – can have lost no time in coming to a verdict of Guilty, of Corruption and Self-Interest.

    Reply
  6. Tim Thorne  March 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Rumours abound that Lisa Dixon will cease to be the Monitoring Officer for Scarborough Borough Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority in the very near future.

    Good luck in your new job, Lisa. If you ever feel like letting us know who was really behind the legal letters you sent us, we are all ears.

    Reply
  7. Inga  March 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Just now Iam so fed up, also, of reading about injustice. Can You all not agree upon aything.. Some Eglish or bittish or whatever divers decided it was allrigt to two divers behing in Norway.. One of Tem happened to be my friend, alsi trained by another friend, Santtu. His last name is Sandberg,therefore the nickname.. Well, we Finns do NOT leave anybody behind the line, in the Winter War of 1942 or any Finnish divers in a Norvegian cave.. The divers from around here, went and got them out. They were of course dead. Some ‘paper’ in Your country must have published that yesterday or the day before. We did a lot of crying. So ‘drag yourselves’ up from the swamp, we have ‘swamps’ here too. And billions of good ‘things’, we also have. Love IHQ

    can you britons do nothing right.

    Reply
  8. David Clark  April 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Reading the above article with regard to land purchase and planning consent,the land under plannng consideration for the new North Yorkshire Police H.Q. is aparently owned by a member of Hamble ton District Council.

    Reply
    • Tim Thorne  April 3, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I’m sure there will be an article about that in the near future. :D

      Reply

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