Scarborough Council By-Election Countdown (4)

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Scarborough Council By-Election Countdown (4)

Scarborough Council By-Election Countdown (4)

During the run up to the North Yorkshire County Council full-term full Council elections on 2nd May 2013, it would be all too easy to let our attention stray away from the local interest of the two Scarborough Borough Council by-elections in the Esk Valley and Streonshalh divisions. (Their respective Nominations Lists are reproduced at the foot of this article).

So Real Whitby will be reporting on any incidents and accidents that may have a bearing on which way voters are likely to swing on Polling Day.

Observant readers of the two most recent editions of the Whitby Gazette (Fri. 12th April and Fri, 19th April 2013, respectively) will have noticed a discernible bias in the newspaper’s coverage of the candidates for the Scarborough Borough Council by-elections in the Streonshalh and Esk Valley wards. Conservative candidate Janet MacDONALD appears to have ‘double-dipped’ the Gazette.

The way in which the Whitby Gazette has allowed a Conservative candidate for Streonshalh to present herself to the electorate not once – like the other three candidates – but twice, falls some way short of the impartiality for which the Whitby Gazette at one time stood as a local by-word.



The Whitby Gazette has also printed Janet MacDONALD’s photograph for a second time.

In fairness, Whitby Gazette Chief Reporter Ms Alex FREDMAN has published an amendment, stating that the Gazette had “published the wrong information for Janet MacDonald”  in their previous edition though without explaining from whence the information had come, to whom it actually applied or how the error went unnoticed until after publication.

However, a closer examination of Janet MacDONALD’s (ostensibly self-penned) ‘revised’ text reveals that she has now been permitted to take a rather unsubtle side-swipe at fellow Streonshalh candidate Derek ROBINSON.



Janet MacDONALD’s final paragraph reads:

“If elected I promise to provide the strong, effective, hardworking voice that Streonshalh Ward needs and deserves, as I would be part of the controlling group of Conservative borough councillors, not an isolated ineffectual voice”.

Let us be completely clear that this is indeed a side-swipe at Derek ROBINSON in particular – he is the only truly independent candidate; the remaining two candidates (other than Derek ROBINSON and Janet MacDONALD herself) are representatives of the Labour Party and the UK Independent Party, respectively. Thus, she is clearly referring to Derek ROBINSON – the only non-affiliated candidate – and to no-one else.

Nevertheless, one might anticipate that Tina DAVY (Labour) and John THISTLE (UKIP) may also feel that they have received only half measure, by comparison with the Conservative candidate.

Without any doubt, then, Janet MacDONALD has enjoyed what amounts to double-exposure coverage (both in words and pictures) as compared to the other three candidates, and (and this is far more serious) has been allowed to single out Derek ROBINSON (widely considered the front-runner for the seat) with remarks clearly intended to demean his candidacy as “isolated and ineffectual”.

It is also noteworthy that Janet MacDONALD is propagating an untruth; here follows the explanation as to why that is the case.

There are 50 seats at Scarborough Borough Council, of which 26 were, until recently, held by Conservatives. Now there are 24, because there are presently two vacancies, brought about by the resignation of former-Councillor Sandra TURNER (Conservative), for personal reasons, and former-Councillor Tim LAWN (Conservative) in the immediate aftermath of the exposure of his undeclared pecuniary interest in land holdings at the heart of the York Potash Ltd NYMNPA Planning Application, bringing the Conservative total down to 24.

Since there is now no Conservative candidate for the SBC Esk Valley by-election (the Conservative candidate John ALDERSON has dropped out), it is mathematically impossible for the Conservatives to achieve more than 25 seats (50%) – and with them the overall majority necessary to qualify them as “the controlling group” – even in the unlikely event of Janet MacDONALD being elected in Streonshalh (and readers may remember that the very well-known and long-serving SBC Councillor Dorothy CLEGG scraped home by a mere thirty-three votes in Streonshalh last time).

So Janet MacDONALD’s claim that she would be “part of the controlling group of Conservative borough councillors, not an isolated ineffectual voice” is manifestly untrue.

There are, of course, precedents for cases of this sort – where one candidate, taking advantage of an unfair opportunity, makes a false statement to the detriment of another candidate. The Electoral Commission quite rightly frowns upon the scurrilous manipulation of the public perception by such unfair means.

Incidentally, the Janet MacDONALD who is contesting the SBC Streonshalh by-election appears (judging by her telephone number) to be the same Janet MacDONALD, who is presently Chair of the Scarborough and Whitby Conservative Association, and who has declined to respond to emails of 21st December 2012, 9th January 2013, 16th January 2013 and 30th January 2013, attempting to lodge Formal Complaints against the ten SBC Conservative double dippers. (Mr Robert GOODWILL – Conservative MP for Scarborough & Whitby – was copied in but, quite predictably, he has stayed out of the matter. It is a topic he is wise to avoid).

How unsurprising, then, that Janet MacDONALD is apparently willing to go on the record as the Conservative Chair who, in virtue of her non-responsiveness and persistent inaction, must now be assumed to condone double-dipping – at least as perpetrated by her fellow Conservatives.

The ten Conservative SBC/NYCC double-dippers are:

  • County & Borough Councillor Andy BACKHOUSE
  • County & Borough Councillor John BLACKBURN
  • County & Borough Councillor David JEFFELS
  • County & Borough Councillor Penny MARSDEN
  • County & Borough Councillor Joe PLANT
  • County & Borough Councillor Jane KENYON
  • SBC Councillor Derek BASTIMAN
  • SBC Councillor Lynne BASTIMAN
  • SBC Leader Councillor Tom FOX
  • Former SBC Councillor Ros FOX



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  1. A Green April 21, 2013 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    How observant Nigel, thank you. But a local Press that is BIASED? really, this is not good if proven so.

    Perhaps the answer is to vote UKIP and help to create a new political nucleus in our local authorities to challenge the ‘accepted hierarchy’. Give them a shot and a chance to effect a change.

    • James Miller April 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      I’m not too sure about UKIP either, in the long term. A better (but probably less practical approach) would be to abolish all political parties from local elections.

      The argument that Ms MacDonald is using to attack Derek Robinson, on the grounds that he has no party so would be ‘ineffectual’, is exactly the same as that being used by Tony Randerson, the Labour Candidate for Eastfield and Osgodby in the forthcoming NYCC election. Strangely enough Mr Randerson is not using the argument against the presumed ‘ineffectiveness’ of Brian Simpleton but of another ‘Independent’ candidate, Norman Murphy who has based much of his campaign against corruption. The theory appears to be that BS is finished in politics, i.e. he has been rumbled, and it is now very much in doubt that he will be gracing Northallerton with his wisdom in a few weeks time and, although the field is wide open, Dr Murphy is certainly a front runner. But it is remarkable how both the Tories and the Labour Party are ‘having a go’ at possible winners for exactly the same reason. The ‘so-called’ Independents of course are generally not ‘independent’ in the true sense. The Independent Group are certainly ‘independent’ of a national Party with directives from Party H.Q. but they meet as a group, they vote as a group and usually have a conservative as well as a Conservative leaning.

      So the only ‘true’ independent candidates are those that are members of no party and no group. Of course in the case of Eastfield & Osgodby (and yes, people of Whitby, they will be voting on issues that concern only Whitby just as Whitby councillors will vote on Eastfield and town of Scarborough matters) His, soon to be, Worship Brian Simpson the first mayor of Eastfield has been a member of, and pissed off, so many parties and groups that the only thing open to him is to say he has no affiliation at all. Well if he is going to lose County he may as well be king of a housing estate for a while.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if people were elected for Parish, Town, Borough and County bodies if they just spoke up for their constituents instead of getting together in parties and groups to protect themselves from the voters finding out the truth?

      • Gary Ludlow April 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm - Reply

        You mean like Cllr Joe Plant a local born & bred, crap, inept, dodgy, greasy, councillor………

      • Derek Robinson April 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

        I like the letter and agree with a lot of your points but let me just put one point forward and that is, I am standing as a Truly Independent candidate with no affiliation to ANY group.
        I know its going to be tough and I know the pressure that is coming my way and I relish the task ahead,
        and with a hung council it will be very interesting

  2. Tim Thorne April 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    If you read the Scarborough News on the subject of the Potash mine you’ll see is full of York Potash press releases quoted verbatim. There is no other angle to the story there.

    I’ve gotten hold of a document that lists all the landowners on the North Yorks Moors that will benefit from the Potash mine. It turns out the Editor of the Scarborough News and Whitby Gazette, Ed Asquith, is one of the beneficiaries.

    • Real Whitby Webmaster April 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      You know, you couldnt make it up. Theyve all got their fingers in the potash pie. Looking after their own interests before the public. Will you be writing it up into an article tim ?

      • Tim Thorne April 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

        Not much of a story as far as I can see. The Scarborough News isn’t exactly in the business of printing news and the same could be said of all their other articles, copy and pasted press releases and such.

        That said, his neighbours to the south are well known on this site.

  3. Gerald Dennett April 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    It is difficult to tell whether the Gazette’s behaviour is founded in conspiracy or cock-up. You will also notice that this week they have printed the profiles of those candidates they omitted last week, giving them an electoral advantage over the candidates who submitted their copy on time! Anyone looking on the listing for Scalby and the Coast will think that I am the only candidate who couldn’t be bothered to submit a statement when the truth is quite the opposite. It was my submitting a statement to the Gazette last week that alerted the news hounds to the fact that Scalby and the Coast does indeed reach into Gazette territory, thus prompting the Gazette to seek copy from my electoral rivals. Seeing their statements in the Gazette led me to shout “Me Too!”.

  4. Brian Dodds April 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    The desperation of the conservatives to preserve their majority is showing through, they will no doubt do whatever it takes to maintain their power base, typical of them to resort to smear tactics rather than honesty and integrity.

  5. Gary Ludlow April 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Conservative Cllr JANET MACDONALD Another Conservative Double Dipper!
    Gosh, I hope these won’t be headlines in the near future.

  6. Gary Ludlow April 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Well Janet we’ve seen first hand how one of your controlling group selfservative councillors cllr Joe Plant has handled MeeToo, what was a dream of a project and almost brought the scheme to its knees, depriving many children of a legitimate NYCC funding.
    Born & bred Joe won’t give us answers, so perhaps you’d like to fill in for him as chair of the local Conservative Boozer. I’m sure John and Joe spent many an hour there giggling at the local tax payers expense.

  7. J.G.Harston May 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Congratulations to Mike Ward (Esk Valley) and Tina Davy (Streonshalh).

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