Top SBC Councillor outFOXed – or FOX outed?

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Top SBC Councillor outFOXed – or FOX outed?

Top SBC Councillor outFOXed – or FOX outed?  

An ‘In My View’ article – by Nigel Ward

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” [from ‘The Song of Solomon’]

It is not widely known or understood that, following government directives, Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) has adopted the so-called ‘Strong’ Leader model, whereby the Leader – Councillor Tom FOX – personally selects the Members of his Cabinet (the Portfolio-Holders) at his own prerogative. The Leader, having been elected by the (normally) fifty Councillors, holds that position for four years until the next Local Authority elections.

At the last Leadership election, there was only one nomination to oppose Councillor Tom FOX – the leader of the six-strong Labour Group – Councillor Eric BROADBENT.

So Councillor Tom FOX holds his position until the next SBC elections in 2015. There are, of course, certain circumstances in which Councillor Tom FOX’s Leadership may be terminated:

  • He may die (heaven forbid),
  • He may resign (unlikely), or cease to be a Councillor,
  • He may be defeated in a vote of no confidence,
  • He may be convicted of a criminal offence such as, for example fraud, and thereby be disqualified from being a Councillor.

Otherwise, he and his hand-picked cohorts are ‘empowered’ to continue with their present practices and policies, without restraint, until May 2015.

Real Whitby readers may recall an article published on 7th June 2012 by Tim Thorne entitled “I-Pads for Scarborough Borough Council”.

Tim Thorne was reporting on a Meeting of Full Council at SBC (which he attended), at which Councillor Tom FOX repeatedly asserted that the cost of each i-Pad would be £160 and their adoption by the Council would assure a net saving of £53,000 per annum.

Following a series of Freedom of Information requests, Tim Thorne was able to prove that Councillor Tom FOX’s assertions were completely untrue – the unit cost of each i-Pad is, in reality, £472.29. By all means check the figures; Tim Thorne’s FOIA responses (which should be available on the SBC Disclosure Log on the web-site) may be viewed here:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/full_cost_of_ipads

One is left to wonder why Councillors, having been apprised of Councillor Tom FOX’s misinformation (by a factor of nearly three), nevertheless continue to retain confidence in their Leader.

But this example of Councillor Tom FOX’s predilection for untruth pales into insignificance compared to his latest excursion into the land of gross misinformation, amounting to lies.

On Friday 14th September 2012, Councillor Tom FOX featured in a ‘live’ interview with Radio York presenter Jonathan Cowap. One of the ‘phone-in’ contributors was Tim Thorne, who questioned Concillor Tom FOX about the fact that both he (Councillor FOX) and his wife Ros FOX – a Councillor for four years – had both received Broadband (Internet) Allowance from SBC, though both lived at the same address and accessed the internet through one and the same land-line connection – paid for once, reimbursed twice – another form of ‘double-dipping’.

This is how Councillor Tom FOX replied (you can listen for yourself by downloading the audio file from here):

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/20492001/FOX.mp3

  • It was an allowance, not an expense and that allowance covered a multitude of things including telephone calls as well as Broadband and facilities for allowing the computers to work including paper, including print cartridges, etc, etc.”

also;

  • “It’s for more things. I was given a laptop computer and my wife wasn’t, she had her own computer. We did have Broadband in there but we created wireless routers so we could both operate our machines and then the incidentals that you need, the print cartridges, paper, that’s all part of that, and its also part of a telephone allowance, for the telephony that you do phoning people, ringing back and everything else. It’s not a narrow thing and Mr Thorne knows that.”

Unfortunately for Councillor Tom FOX, this is out-and-out misinformation.

  • Firstly; stationery and office ‘incidentals’ are provided to Councillors free-of-charge, on demand, by the Town Hall (a fact confirmed by many present and former SBC Councillors).
  • Secondly; telephone expenses are covered under the Basic Allowance and are not included in the separate Broadband (Internet) Allowance available from SBC. In any case, Councillor Tom FOX maintains his own personal office at the Town Hall (which he attends on an almost daily basis) and the vast majority of his “phoning people, ringing back and everything else” is conducted from there – not his home, where his claimed Broadband (Internet) Allowance applies, and is paid for from the public purse.
  • Thirdly, Councillor Tom FOX has confirmed that both he and his wife, former-Councillor Ros FOX, accessed the internet via wireless router, without the expense of Broadband connectivity via two separate accounts.
  • Finally, Councillor Tom FOX’s claims fall foul of the Council’s adopted (6th December 2011) Recommendation of the Independent Remuneration Panel, whose terms are delineated thus:

It was agreed that the monies paid for telecommunications connections should not be an allowance but should be the amount it cost a member to provide a connection to the internet for the purpose of delivering email/internet connectivity. Members further agreed that in the event that the Council replaced laptop computers with tablets with internet/email facilities, it was anticipated that there would not be a need to claim for a broadband connection save where telephone reception was inadequate. The panel also agreed that it should remain at the discretion of the Chief Executive to agree which members required additional telecommunication devices.

RESOLVED

The panel recommends that Council agree that:

1.      Members claim only for broadband expenses necessarily incurred rather than a specific allowance. In the event that a tablet device with a built in internet connection is provided to members that this provide the broadband connection save where the connection was inadequate.

2.      Members who represent both North Yorkshire and Scarborough Borough Council likewise should limit claims to actual expenses incurred.

3.      The provision of other telecommunication equipment, such as Blackberry mobile phones, remain at the discretion of the Chief Executive.

This is the Public Record information and it is at diametric variance with Councillor Tom FOX’s misinformation.

But let us examine what Councillor Tom FOX himself has to say on the subject of misinformation, which The Free Dictionary defines thus:

misinformation

noun.

false information, gossip, disinformation, misleading information, false rumour

In a Scarborough (Evening) News article published on 6th June 2011, entitled “Twitter legal case reaction”, Councillor FOX is quoted as stating this:

  • “Anyone who is spreading misinformation and sometimes deliberate lies needs to be brought to account.”

In my view, it is difficult to see how Councillor Tom FOX can justify exempting himself  from that policy.

But who will shoulder the burden of responsibility for ensuring that Councillor Tom FOX himself is “brought to account” for “spreading misinformation and sometimes deliberate lies”?

The SBC website is not forthcoming about the terms under which Councillor FOX serves as ‘Strong’ Leader of SBC. Fortunately, another Councillor has provided the following information:

7.03 Leader

(i) The Leader will be a councillor elected to the position of Leader by the Council. The first such election under new executive arrangements was at the Annual Meeting in May 2010. Each subsequent election will be held on the day of the Annual Meeting when the incumbent’s term of office as Leader expires.

The Leader will hold office until the first Annual Meeting after his/her normal day of retirement as a councillor (this being the fourth day after the ordinary day for elections in the year his/her term of office as a councillor expires, which will normally be four years after his/her election as a councillor) unless:

(a) he/she resigns from the office; or

(b) he/she ceases to be a councillor; or

(c) the Council resolves to remove the Leader by a vote passed by a simple majority of those present and voting at a meeting of the Council upon a motion moved by written notice under Standing Order 14 provided the notice is signed by at least seven seconders as well as the proposer.

(ii) In the event of any casual vacancy in the position of Leader, the Council shall fill the vacancy at its next ordinary meeting of the Council held after the date on which the vacancy occurs or, if the Council then chooses, at the next following ordinary meeting of the Council. The Proper Officer shall include the filling of the vacancy as an item of business on the agenda for such meeting.

So there exists the following redress;

If one Councillor, seconded by another seven Councillors, proposes a Motion calling for a vote of no confidence in the Leader, then it must go to the vote. And if a simple majority find themselves unwilling to express confidence in Councillor Tom FOX – on the basis of his proven misinformation and hypocrisy – then he has to go. (On the subject of “confidence”, by the way, Councillor Tom FOX has ignored three emails from me, asking him to express confidence in his Portfolio-Holder for Finance, Procurement & Legal. One wonders if his Councillors can, in good conscience, express their confidence in him).

So it remains to be seen whether or not there are eight Councillors who are at least willing to raise the question of whether or not a purveyor of misinformation and hypocrisy is fit to hold the position of ‘Strong’ Leader at SBC.

Of course, the Conservative Councillors and their undeclared Tory supporters in the Independent Group will no doubt cast impartiality aside to support their Leader; that is to be expected.

It will not prevent a formal complaint against him in respect of a number of proven breaches of the Code of Conduct – at least one of which is substantiated by Councillor FOX’s own remarks on ‘live’ Radio York.

But one might hope to see a token gesture of decency.


Fraud Act 2006

4 Fraud by abuse of position

A person is in breach of this section if he —

(a) occupies a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,

(b) dishonestly abuses that position, and

(c) intends, by means of the abuse of that position —

(i) to make a gain for himself or another, or

(ii) to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.

(2) A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.


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34 Comments

  1. Tom Brown September 18, 2012 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Here’s a howdy-do All together now FOI Jim Dillon and Tom Fox separately and ask them if Scarborough Borough Council has been abolished.
    Is so there is NO LEADER OF ANY COUNCIL! Ergo what are we paying for? Also is the monitoring officer a ‘Common Purpose’ graduate? if so that officer will make his or her own law to suit.

    • Ron L September 18, 2012 at 10:34 am - Reply

      Tom – sorry that comment has got me baffled.
      Can you explain it further please.

  2. Alan H September 18, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Just sounds like the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. This site is so predictable these days. Dull Dull Dull.

    • F L C September 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      You sound like youh haven’t bothered to actually read the article. The details presented seem to indicate some premeditated deception, and/or outright theft of funds.

      A better question is; why it is you seem to think that conspircay theorists “ramble”? Isn’t it better to debate the issues at hand than to simply insult with petty remarks?

      From my point of view, and after reading this article, Tom and his wife have had away some monies that they aren’t entitled to. They should give the money back, apologize and resign immediately.

      Tom Fox, sounds like the sort of guy who would be the first to say “that there is no excuse for not knowing the rules”… yet here is a man who is either incompetent and doesn’t know the rules, or is deliberately abusing his position.

      Resign Mr Fox. It’s the honorable thing to do. Assuming there is any honor left with anyone at SBC HQ.

      • Alan H September 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm - Reply

        Apologies, I was talking about Tom Brown’s Comment, not the article. Although I could say a lot about that too, pretty soon infact.

  3. Tim Thorne September 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Does anyone think that Tom Fox will show some leadership and arrange to pay back that money?

  4. Sarraceniac September 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Why should he? Many others seem to have not just put their snouts in the trough but have dived in. Nothing comes of it. ‘Conspiracy theorists’ keep trying to expose it but the average voter just says ‘Well, they are doing a good (or acceptable) job and they know how to behave at parties, so they are entitled to perks’. If anybody says they are not entitled to other than their contractual terms then, as FLC points out, they are accused of rambling. I can assure you that I have seen it from the inside and resigned from formal political activity. I got out for a couple of main reasons, 1) I was getting past it and 2) someone threatened to put my teeth (I still have some) down my throat unless I desisted. I am a pacifist and did not become a political animal to take a crash (literally) course in prize fighting. So for me this is not theory, it is horrible, but it is fact.

    • Ron L September 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Sarraceniac – sorry to say this, but for a pacifist, you do leave some fairly inflammatory comments at times.

  5. Tim Thorne September 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I wonder if Private Eye will be covering the husband and wife broadband claims in their next edition?

    Double-Dipping
    ————–

    Politicians who sit on more than one council in North Yorkshire have enjoyed a nice little earner in recent years by accepting IT allowances from both authorities while incurring one lot of expense.

    North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) pays £500 a year, as part of a councillors’ basic allowance, to cover the cost of having a broadband connection at home – very generous, as it’s about four times what broadband actually costs. Meanwhile eight NYCC councillors who also sit on Scarborough Borough Council receive a handy £255 a year from that council for having Broadband at home. Senior Tory Cllr Jane Kenyon, whose difficulty in keeping her register of interests up-to-date we reported in Eye 1318, nobly does not take Scarborough’s £255 broadband allowance – although she did claim £712.15 for IT from North Yorkshire Police Authority, which she chairs, in 2010-11, as well as NYCC’s £500.

    Responding to a campaign on a local website, Real Whitby, NYCC’s monitoring officer, Carole Dunn, states that double-dipping councillors are merely claiming their “entitlement” – so there’s no need for her to take any action. The question of whether they are morally entitled to that “entitlement” is ignored.

    Any locals expecting Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill to take a lead are likely to be disappointed. Back in 2000, as a member of the European parliament, he boasted that when booking flights to Brussels “we get a set fee of around £500, but if I buy a cheaper ticket, economy class for, say, £160, I can pocket the difference and, as a capitalist, also as a British Conservative, I see it as a challenge to buy cheap tickets and make some profit on the system because that is the system.” Trebles all round!

  6. bill September 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    most councillors are practically unemployed that’s why their in politics to get a job they just go down and cast their vote then pick their cheque up nice little earner bill

    • J.G.Harston September 24, 2012 at 1:00 am - Reply

      “most councillors are unemployed”.
      Ha! Most councillors already have well-paying outside jobs and their councillor salary is a handy extra bit of pocket money for them. Councillors who don’t have an outside income struggle trying to commit to elected public office, as voters and politicians together conspire to push politics more and more into the hands of people with money – the rich, the retired, and the corrupt.

      • Stakesby Legs September 24, 2012 at 7:47 am - Reply

        Two out of three’s not bad, and retired coppers are the worst.

  7. Tom Brown September 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    Research ‘Common Purpose’ ‘Brian Gerrish’ and all Police Authorities along with their ‘Chairs’ and the so called ACPO along with the rash of police failures.
    Do so if you want fall for the conspiracy theorists?, they actually conspire to plant these conspiracies.
    Pre Heath and Blair the Police, Education,Transport, the NHS and in particular the immigration authorities were not such a problem. Think about it!!
    Is Britain the place it used to be? Do try thinking about it. AND RESEARCH don’t just react as the theorists want you to do.
    Britain is not the same and you and I are not to blame for it.

    • Ron L September 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tom.
      Everything is a lot clearer to me now !!!!!!!!!

  8. Barry Midgley September 21, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply

    sounds like a soap .

    • Ron L September 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      Agree with you there Barry.

      Comments removed by admin.

  9. Shiela G. September 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve been watching a lot of these posts for a long time and I must say it is very interesting to see the enquiring minds that you have on Real Whitby especially the two gentlemen who, like me, have no last name. It is really great to see such devastating insights into the local politics as ‘Blah’ and even ‘Blah blah.’ Fascinating.

    And the conspiracy they have set up to examine all the conspiracies. Brilliant!

    I am just a rather stupid old lady, with a Ph.D. in pure philosophy and 30 years lecturing at a leading university, but the incisiveness of some of the people contributing here leaves me breathless. Why did I waste all those years lecturing on the epistemology of Karl Popper and his logic when I could have just referred my students here to view the most amazing logic I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The one about somebody not being a pacifist because they have an abrasive literary style really takes the biscuit and should take a literature prize for fiction.

    Sorry. I know this does not advance the arguments here much. But I am sure it does better than ‘Blah’ or even ‘Blah blah’. And it will probably be my only contribution. Just a request to one or two contributors to use argument not political dogma and insult.

    • Ron L September 23, 2012 at 5:31 am - Reply

      Shiela G.
      Great post.
      Such a shame you see yourself as, quote, ‘a rather stupid old lady’.

      • Shiela G. September 23, 2012 at 7:59 am - Reply

        Just thought I’d fit in better.

        • Ron L September 23, 2012 at 8:11 am - Reply

          You will !

          • Shiela G. September 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm - Reply

            Ah, you speak from experience.

            • Ron L September 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm - Reply

              No. Not old enough.

  10. Richard Ineson September 23, 2012 at 11:24 am - Reply

    It all seems pretty clear to me, I well remember Tom Fox’s statement in the SEN of the 6th June, 2011,
    “Anyone who is spreading misinformation and sometimes deliberate lies, needs to be brought to account ” and here he is having been proved to be, in his words, ” spreading misinformation” if not “deliberate lies” continuing as if nothing has happened, when the only proper course of action would be for him to be ‘ brought to account’

  11. Richard Ineson September 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    Yes, the experience gained from every last second of my life since 1947.

  12. Daryl Smiler September 24, 2012 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Shiela G.

    Listening to public comment is, for the most part, a dispiriting task. There are few truly insightful contributions to debate and a lot of ill-informed dogma driven words.

    Even when unbiased it is all too frequently simplistic.

    Proof? Any Questions and to a greater degree Any Answers!

    Daryl

  13. Richard Ineson September 24, 2012 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Here’s a very dispiriting but devastating insight into how our money is squandered :-

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.real-whitby.co.uk%2Fnorth-yorkshire-police-authority-rip&h=wAQGXdXrO-

  14. The Man In The White Suit September 25, 2012 at 6:12 am - Reply

    It seems like its a competition on between several posters ( you know who you are) ,,,, who can write the most $^%$, sorry that be harsh, but it is obvious you just sit here thinking of very long words ( no doubt using google and a dictionary)well done!!!! 95% on here have no idea what your waffling on about!!!!!!!

    Some of us left school and had to get a job!!!!!!

    Now put your silver spoons away

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      Excellent summary sir !
      I could not have said it better myself.
      It will be interesting to see who responds to your comment.
      Once again, well said.

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      I think this classic quotation from Abraham Lincoln is very appropriate :-

      You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      Or maybe this one from this fine nations greatest ever son, Winston Churchill :- A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

    • Ron L September 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Or maybe this fine unattributed quotation :- An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.

      There you go folks, you can find great and appropriate quotations on line as well as very long words !!!!!

  15. The Man In The White Suit September 30, 2012 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Nice one Ron,

    It all seems to have gone quiet, I hope they arnt sulking!!!

    I read throu some of the replys, and get bored, they just go on and on and on, I could do the same replys in about 15 words!!!!!,….. No wonder the topics die a death!!!!

    • Sarraceniac September 30, 2012 at 11:06 am - Reply

      Or are killed by people who don’t understand the debate.

  16. The Man In The White Suit September 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I can’t see a debate, the fact of the matter is the vast majority are on the take big style ( I must admit I would do the same) …… I wonder how many on here would admit to that!!!

    All aboard the gravy train……

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