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“Two for the Price of One?”
An ‘In My View’ article by Nigel Ward
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Readers may recall an article of mine in the ‘In My View’ series, entitled “Whitby Regatta – limited or not?”, in which I outlined my concerns regarding the present legal position of the town’s oldest and best-loved annual event.
Efforts made by the Finance & General Purposes (F&GP) Committee of Whitby Town (Parish) Council to elicit the truth underlying the extraordinary circumstances in which the time-honoured Whitby Regatta Committee appears to have been supplanted by Whitby Regatta Limited seem for the moment to have ground to a halt.
I now find myself able to shed a little more light
But let me first make clear that I am not, as has been suggested by the mischief-makers (read ‘cover-up merchants’), in any sense against the Regatta – quite the contrary; I am a keen supporter and I have made it my business to make a donation every year during my time as a resident of Whitby, and oft times in the past when I attended as a visitor.
The Whitby Gazette reported on the intentions of the F&GP to approach Whitby Regatta Limited (WRL) with a list of pertinent questions, including:
The Gazette also published a statement from Whitby Regatta Limited (WRL), to my mind a deeply disingenuous statement, and I published my paragraph-by-paragraph response to that statement in the article mentioned above.
I now have a copy of the Whitby Regatta 2012 Program (price: £2.50), on the frontispiece of which appears the following announcement under the heading “Welcome to Whitby Regatta – http://www.whitbyregatta.co.uk/ ” (which is, of course, the website URL for the Whitby Regatta Committee (WRC) – not Whitby Regatta Limited (WRL), and signed off by ‘Jane Kenyon – President’, which is a misrepresentation. It should, of course be signed off as ‘Jane Kenyon – Director’, which is actually her true position.
Curiously, it also bears the Scarborough Borough Council logo.
It is an extraordinary statement. I feel it is very much in the public interest to reproduce it here, interpolating my own comments within square-brackets and in bold type, [thus]:
“May I on behalf of the Whitby Regatta Committee warmly welcome you all to the 172nd Whitby Regatta.”
“Whitby Regatta is the oldest Regatta on the Northeast coast and this jubilee year we celebrate the traditions of the Regatta and our community of Whitby. The Regatta has always been Whitby’s own community event and the Committee of volunteers endeavour each year to make the event different [Without the intervention of a newly-formed commercial Limited Company whose registered Objectives do not include running the Regatta] but always reflect the family fun, community spirit and the traditions of our ancient seaport.”
“We celebrate the traditions of the sport of rowing, welcome our armed forces with both static displays and demonstrations and are privileged to have the fantastic red arrows with us Sunday 19th of August. Always assured of a warm Whitby welcome the red arrows delight in their display across the sea. As much as we all delight and admire them this year we are mindful of the tragedy that beset them last year with the sad loss of one of their team just after visiting Whitby. Whitby Regatta is funded by sponsorship, community support and a great deal of goodwill. We charge no gate entry – but we do ask you to give as generously as you can when our collectors pass by with their collecting tins [This solicitation of donations is fine for a Charity, but without a Solicitation Statement it is illegal for a Limited Company – the problem is that neither WRC nor WRL is a Charity]. We live in difficult financial times – and the effect of these times is felt by the regatta just like every family, business and service. This year we have funded the visit of the Red Arrows from the regatta savings account [Are there two separate accounts – one for Whitby Regatta Committee and one for Whitby Regatta Limited?] but if we are to continue our long relationship with them we are going to have to attract a sponsor or sponsors prepared to help us financially to do so. Like all of us, we can only use savings once and they have carefully been acquired over years by the committee to protect the event in difficult times [Does this mean that WRC’s ‘savings’ have now been acquired by WRL?].We believe that these are difficult times but we also want you to enjoy the best show we can provide.”
“Finally we would like to put on record our thanks to Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire Police, County Highways, Ambulance and Fire Services, and our local business community without whose support and assistance we would not be able to continue to perpetuate our very special WHITBY REGATTA.”
“Finally, we wish you all a very happy weekend – have fun and the true spirit of Whitby Regatta ENJOY!”
President [Jeremy Holderness, Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer of the North Yorkshire Police Authority stated, in a legal document dated 5th July 2012, a Decision Notice confirming that Cllr Jane Kenyon is now a Director of Whitby Regatta Limited (as has Gill Wilkinson at SBC) – and no longer President of the Whitby Regatta Committee. Are we now to assume, therefore, that she has subsequently now resigned her Directorship in WRL and reverted to her status as President of the WRC? Probably not. But if so, why is that resignation not registered with Companies House? Is she, in fact, ‘riding two horses’ – one a non-existent ‘Charity’ and the other a commercial Limited Company? Or is she now caught in another lie – both to the Monitoring Officer and to the general public?]
What does it matter? Surely the Regatta will take place – as it has for the past 171 years – and no harm has been done?
Well; it does matter – in a number of important ways:
The August Full Council Meeting of Whitby Town (Parish) Council has passed without reference to the F&GP Committee’s request to WRL for clarification, and the F&GP Committee itself is not scheduled to meet again until after the Regatta. My information is that WRL has sent a letter to the Council, stating only that it is giving consideration to the F&GP’s questions and will respond in the fullness of time.
Meanwhile, a very long-serving Regatta volunteer informs me that the membership (largely made up of members of the Whitby Friendship Amateur Rowing Club and the Whitby Fishermans Rowing Club) are gravely concerned and have sought legal advice on many of the following points:
How can it be asserted (as it is in Councillor Kenyon’s “Welcome” message), that the existence of this commercial Company protects the Regatta organisers, when it is made clear in her own words that the Regatta is still being run by the Whitby Regatta Committee in its traditional unincorporated form, and that it is the members of the Committee who bear the full burden of responsibility for any debts (even unto the point of bankruptcy) – though the principal assets – the “Whitby Regatta” name and logo, and the trophies – have apparently been annexed by WRL?
Councillor Kenyon is bound by her Oath of Acceptance of Office (as a Councillor at both NYCC and SBC) to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in accordance with the Constitutions of those authorities and in accordance with the Code of Conduct, infractions of which are a criminal matter.
In the public interest, I now call upon Councillor Kenyon for full clarification.