SBC: The Non-Responsive Council

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SBC: The Non-Responsive Council

SBC: The Non-Responsive Council

  • a report by TIM THORNE on the determination of Scarborough Borough Council to conceal the circumstances in which PETER JACONELLI was elevated to the status of Alderman of the Borough of Scarborough.


A full Council meeting for Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) is scheduled for 2pm on Monday 12th May 2014. Amongst items on the agenda is a motion by Cllr Tom Fox, seconded by Cllr Derek Bastiman, to posthumously strip civic honours from Peter Jaconelli.

The former-Mayor and honorary Alderman of the Borough’s name is to be removed from honours boards and the Council and successive Councils will not endorse or support such matters as memorials, street and/or property naming or other high recognition, office or award in his memory.

I was curious of how many of the current crop of long-serving Councillors and which notable names in the Scarborough political scene of yesteryear had actually voted to bestow the honour of Alderman on Peter Jaconelli in 1996.

An FOI request was sent to SBC, and acknowledged, but it was ultimately ignored, despite a timely reminder. Par for the course from our non-responsive Council it seems.

The Information Commissioner’s Office will be adding another black mark to the Council’s file in due course, despite the Council taking steps to ensure the prompt answering of FOI requests.

What are the requirements to become an Alderman of the Borough of Scarborough? According to an old FOI request, it seems the title is conferred upon those who have completed sixteen years service as a Borough Councillor.

If any of the current crop of long-serving Councillors have served continuously since 1996, they themselves would be overdue the civic honour. The full Council also votes on the matter, but it is thought that two-thirds of the Council has to vote for the honour rather than the usual majority decision at a Council meeting, although no documentation could be found to support this.

Perusing the list of Councillors it seems a number are overdue the honour of Alderman, but perhaps serving Councillors are made to wait until they leave office.

It is interesting to note that Cllr Derek Bastiman, who is seconding the motion to remove civic honours from Peter Jaconelli, could have been one of eight serving Councillors who may have voted to bestow the Alderman civic honour back in 1996. The vast number of rumours circulating Scarborough about Jaconelli’s offending must not have made it as far north as Scalby Road!

Getting information out of Scarborough Borough Council has generally been a lengthy task. The Jaconelli allegations, along with the request to remove his civic honours, were first reported to Jim Dillon, the Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service at Scarborough Borough Council, by e-mail on the 13th February 2013, and shortly afterwards, to all members of the Council.

The Council Procedure Rules are clear on the role of the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive must report to full Council on any questions received or announcements resulting from other communications.

At every meeting of the full Council since the request to remove Peter Jaconelli’s civic honours was received by the Chief Executive, the Chief Executive has advised that no communications have been received and that no questions had been received in respect of the matter of the removal of civic honours.

The Chief Executive has failed to carry out his duties six times. Only when the BBC aired the Inside Out show on the 10th February 2014 featuring Real Whitby, which included a segment about Peter Jaconelli, did the matter of the removal of civic honours make it onto the full Council agenda on February 28th 2014.

Shortly after that Council meeting, I asked Jim Dillon, CCing his Monitoring Officer, why he had not apprised the full Council of the request to remove civic honours from Peter Jaconelli:

Dear Chief Executive,

An e-mail was sent to you on the 13th February 2013 from a Trevor Harrington requesting that the civic honours awarded to Peter Jaconelli should be removed by the Council. The same e-mail was forwarded to all current Borough Councillors a short while after.

The Council Procedure Rules are very clear on the matter of questions to the Chief Executive. Having reviewed the scope of questions that can be submitted, it doesn’t appear to me that there is a good reason for not communicating that request officially at the next full Council meeting.

Please could you explain why it appears you have not followed the Council Constitution and made full Council aware of the request at the next full Council meeting or any full Council meeting since.

Kind regards,

Tim Thorne

What does Jim Dillon have to say about the matter in hand? Nothing officially so far. ‘Silent’ Jim has been completely non-responsive to the e-mailed question.

Perhaps the Monitoring Officer would step in, perform her public duty, for which she is handsomely paid, and hold the Chief Executive to account over the apparent breach of Council Procedure Rules? Nothing official from the Monitoring Officer so far. She appears to have been completely non-responsive to the complaint too.

So who else will step up to the plate and hold the Chief Executive to account? Perhaps one of our many upstanding Councillors will step out of line and loosen Jim’s tongue?

Only a year to go until the elections, guys…


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  1. Sam Spruce May 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Over the past few years I have had cause to notice how often the ‘authorities’ will enforce their own notion of the law even if they are incorrect and will simply ignore their own responsibilities with apparent impunity. Not answering a FOI is simply illegal and unacceptable. Doing nothing about it is disgusting. For me this invalidates any relationship between me and any government body. What do they think they are doing? It is open criminal behaviour.

  2. Adrian porter May 10, 2014 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Good article Tim ,Im dealing with the council myself over some issues,concerning a vessel I owned .
    Fistly ,I have emailed and written to Jim Dillon on a number of occasions he has NEVER replied ??
    With regards to my Subject access request sent 46 days ago ,it was never acknowledged and the 40 days are up ,Im totally ignored ??
    I asked for some data protection requests last year ,I waited and waited ,nothing Greg harper SBC told me in an email they were at the SBC legal department,that was months ago still nothing??
    I have recently used the web site “what do they know” but I do not think SBC will release my requests,
    staying with the SBC Legal dept .I was given by a Mr David Kitson SBC Solicitor a corporate complaint response,I questioned this and asked for the official SBC procedure for corp complaints ,And after weeks he emailed me a copy and straight away could see nothing had been followed in my corporate complaint ,I complained.
    Mr Kitson ,told me that he had given me out of date SBC procedures and that SBC were looking into putting new procedures in place in the near future.
    So mr Kitson gave me a corporate complaint response knowing fair well that their was no procedure or guide lines in place ,in fact it carnt even be classed as a corporate complaint procedure!
    He had a full reign to write what he pleased !!
    Obviously I wasnt happy over this and was put under the SBC unreasonably and unreasonable persistent complainants procedure for six months !!
    To add insult to injury ,my persistent thingy was up for review on the 27th of Jan 2014 nearly 16 weeks ago, I have asked Mr Kitson about my status with the persistent complainants procedure,Im ignored ,he wont reply ??? A borough Cllr went to see him about the matter,still nothing,however my email is still blocked to SBC ??
    David Kitson SBC solicitor has broken so many SBC procedures its almost a joke .
    So who disciplines the likes of Mr Kitson ,Lisa Dixon and the legal department? It would seem they are a law unto themselves ,If any of us brake procedures etc we get hammered ,so to speak !!
    So ,ive been refused my Subject Access Request,data requests witheld and gathering dust in the legal department.After 16 weeks SBC refuse to discuss the persistent thingy I was placed under,oh and our local MP refuses to get involved ? Thats another story lol !!
    sorry this post has dragged on but when I read Tims article,it mirrored some of my issues with SBC.
    In my opinion SBC is likened to a secret society,its the three monkeys !! they are a law unto them selves !
    So I can also say its true ! SBC are a none responsive council

  3. Nigel May 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    “Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.”

  4. andy Strangeway May 11, 2014 at 8:14 am - Reply

    I still await a response regards the illegal parking of SBC vehicles on double yellows.

  5. Patricia David May 11, 2014 at 9:54 am - Reply

    I put in over a year 2013-14 several FOI requests on one topic – substantiation of the Council’s Assertion that it would cost £7m to restore the theatre to be fit for purpose. I accused Jim Dillon of pulling a figure out of the air. In fact this was pulled out of the air in two separate Consultancy Reports (2008 & 2010)and this is what the Council used without any exploration of what would be included in the £7m. The ICO was kept informed and after a year of non-compliance we have now agreed that ICO will take them to Court on our behalf. I think Tim Thorne is going to cover this in more depth later. Perhaps there will be a composite report on how many of us there are out here awaiting FOI responses!

  6. Tom Brown May 12, 2014 at 8:13 am - Reply

    It is now clear we are ungoverned so to hand monies over to a phantom is unwise.

  7. Adrian porter May 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Just been looking at my requests to SBC,LOL
    Data protection requests sent 17th OCT 2014 ,replied by greg harper the next day,things went quiet I emailed Greg and he emailed back on the 12/12/13 stating that he had sent all the info to the Legal department to be looked at .after some email s that were ignored after 28 weeks Ive had nothing and my requests gather dust at the legal department !!

    I asked for a subject access request from SBC ,Im in day 47 ,I didnt even get an acknowledgement ,so thats a week over due.

    Last year I asked for some Foia for my case ,I got this from Martin Pedley ??

    “I am stating that any documentation that may form part of the Council’s defence to your claim is excluded from the provision of the Freedom of Information Act.”

    Martin Pedley isnt even a FOIA officer !

    Clearly the FOIA , DPA and Subject access requests have been abused ! The law and SBC procedures broken by
    if the legal department carnt work in the confines of their own SBC Policy ,procedures and THE LAW !! How the hell does the rest of the council manage ???
    The SBC legal department are a law unto themselves,and they seem quite happy to break procedures,policy and the law to cover the screw ups of SBC.
    They tell me to go to the L.G.O.local Government ombudsman !
    just a couple of things about the LGO ,even if the LGO find SBC in fault ,SBC dont have to do a thing about it,but if they favour the council the decision cannot be over ruled except in the high court and the reviews of the LGO are shocking !!

    So if I did go to the LGO it could only be win win for David Kitson and SBC.
    Says alot for the LGO ?

  8. Richard Ineson May 13, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I sent a letter to Jim Dillon on the 30th May 2008 (that is two thousand and eight) to which I am still awaiting a reply. It did pose some embarrassing financial questions, but it was a perfectly polite letter and serous in tone, and should have elicited some reponse, but didn’t.

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