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Who is Monitoring the Monitoring Officer?

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Who is Monitoring the Monitoring Officer of NYMNPA & SBC?

  • – an  “In My View” article by Nigel Ward.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Following the publication of Private Eye recently, in particular Tim MINOGUE’s “Rotten Borough” article “They Cannot Be Sirius”, there has been much speculation as to how these allegations of impropriety, and, indeed, possible criminality, are likely to impact upon the York Potash Ltd Planning Application.

I have no crystal ball, but I have been engaging in close correspondence with the NYMNPA during the course of the week, and have been copied into the correspondence of others, so I have therefore been reaching the parts that other local media outlets don’t reach.

Readers will recall that Tim THORNE has published a couple of articles, “From York Potash, With Love” and “From Scarborough Town Hall, With Hate”, and in between, Tim also published “Whitby Potash Mine: Another resignation from SBC”.

Next came the astonishing saga of the “Solicitor’s Letter” from SBC’s Head of Legal Lisa DIXON and her attempt to close down Real Whitby – if you are reading this, she failed.

Before expressing an opinion on the actions of Ms Lisa DIXON, I intend to take a moment to elaborate on a very important point that many readers seem to have not yet considered.

When we speak of ‘Public Life’, in the political sense, we speak of people who occupy certain position of ‘authority’ – positions like Parish Clerk, candidate for election, Parish Councillor, Borough Portfolio-Holder, County Councillor, Chief Exec of a Council, Member of Parliament and so on.

These are all positions in public life. Each of the positions (unless vacant) is entrusted by the public, through the elctoral process, to a human being.

Within the meaning of the Transparency International definition of the word ‘corruption” (“the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”), only people in positions such as those listed above are answerable to the term, since it does not apply to the actions of those of us who do not occupy positions.

Our efforts to reveal corruption in public life are intended, in the public interest, to eradicate (some hope) or at least minimise misconduct by those who subvert the functions of their positions. Away from their positions, they are human beings. By entering into public life, they agree to public scrutiny for this purpose.

For example, I am willing to grant that ‘Fred Bloggs’, say, may be a grand chap – a loving, caring husband and father of adoring children; patient, temperate, compassionate, unswervingly loyal to friends and kind to dumb animals. It may be that I like ‘Fred’; very much.

But if ‘Fred’ occupies a position – which, in the present discussion, means a position of trust – and he performs corrupt actions – that is to say, he abuses the privileges of his position in order to make a private gain for himself or his family, friends and business associates (which may not necessarily be pecuniary in nature) – then, in my view, there should be no place for ‘Fred’; in public life.

‘Fred’ may perhaps disagree. But I will not be giving my vote to ‘Fred’ on Election day – 2nd May 2013.

So let us, with all that at the forefront of our minds, examine recent events as they relate to the performance of the functions of the position of Monitoring Officer at both Scarborough Borough Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority.

Now, it has to be said that there has been an unprecedented amount of publicity surrounding the Monitoring Officer, most prominent being the succession of five articles in the much-read and ever-popular “Rotten Boroughs” column of Private Eye. Despite the highly provocative allegations against County Councillor Jane KENYON and the Dales Timber Ltd forgery; despite the contemptuous ‘outing’ of the Scarborough double-dippers; despite the ignominy of receiving the “Expenses Fiddlers of the Year 2012 Award”, the Monitoring Officer – the position charged with maintaining the highest possible standards in public life – has made no public rebuttal of the allegations.

No threats of libel action against Private Eye – with its national readership (few of whom may vote in the up-coming County election).

At the far end of the country, the report entitled “DEPLORABLE” on the Cornwall Community News web-site is scathing  in its criticism of the Monitoring Officers conduct. It remains free from legal attack.

On the other hand, and on a more local level, Real Whitby has reported on a wide range of Standards issues heavily supported by the public record – the non-declaration of Disclosable Interests; the pregnant mystery of the “Me Too!” scandal; the threatening and abusive behaviour on the part of a Borough Councillor Cabinet Portfolio-Holder and a County Councillor swept under the carpet; and the by-now infamous and continuing saga of the three categories of double-dippers (County/Borough, husband/wife and double-telephone expenses).

These matters, too, fall under the purview of the Monitoring Officer, who appears to have singled me and my co-contributors to Real Whitby as well as the site itself. Personal animus? Who knows?

But this list of exposures of the shortcomings in the professional performance of the Monitoring Officer pales into insignificance besides the criticism of one of the leading Councillors – Councillor Colin CHALLEN – who has intimated that he believes there was collusion between Monitoring staff and Defendants in the double-dippers Standards investigation.

This is very serious indeed, because it highlights the point that the function of the Monitoring Officer has not merely been carried out inadequately – as has been so widely reported – but has actually been reversed. To express it in a metaphorical way, “de kopz done helped de robbers”. If that does not amount to a breach of the public trust, I will have to trust the Monitoring Officer to explain to me why not.

The timing of the Monitoring Officer’s letter is also of considerable significance.  Real Whitby has been investigating many of these issues for well over a year, yet the Monitoring Officer acted only last week against her critics at Real Whitby (though nowhere else), apparently with a view to stifling further revelations, as the SBC double-dippers hit the pavements canvassing for the County Council elections starts.

The Scarborough News and Whitby Gazette do not provide investigative journalism to their respective readerships.  More is the pity. Only Real Whitby provides this essential service in the Borough and the County at large. Apparently, the intended effect of the Monitoring Officer’s letter was to stop all incisive, informed, critical investigative journalism in our electoral area for the duration of the elections.

Could it be that the Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal & Democratic Services Ms Lisa DIXON has allowed the partisan political aspirations of some of the Borough’s County Councillors –now reportedly horrified at the prospect of fielding questions about CORRUPTION as they canvass door-to-door – to influence her actions? Could it be that she has taken this action to prevent any further critical comment in respect of the York Potash Ltd (Sirius) Planning Application or of the financial affairs and possible conflicts of interests of any of the NYMNPA Planning Committee Members?

DixonB
Inhabiting the position of the Monitoring Officer is a human being. Her name is Ms Lisa DIXON. I do not recall having met her. I have only seen two pictures of her, the better of the two shown above, in which Ms DIXON appears second from the right, next to her predecessor in the rôle, Mr Ian George ANDERSON, who departed in unseemly haste a year ago, thus necessitating Lisa DIXON’s promotion to the position. The group are pictured after receiving the “Yorkshire Lawyers of the Year Award 2010”.

The position of Monitoring Officer can be very demanding. It is almost invariably held by the Head of Legal Services, who is generally a qualified solicitor and/or barrister. Her predecessor, Mr Ian ANDERSON, whom I know quite well, is a barrister. (Hi. Ian! I sincerely hope I do not defame you!).

The position of Head of Legal is extremely demanding, most especially during periods of transition, and especially with the demands of more than one Authority to fulfil; a daunting task for one who has been barely a year in the job.

The positions of Monitoring Officer for SBC and the NYMNPA is occupied by a human being, Lisa DIXON. Lisa is also a solicitor and Head of Legal Services for SBC.

As a human being, Lisa may be permitted to smart under criticism, as we all do. It is a feeling that starts in our stomachs and forces its way as a hot flush into our faces. It is deeply unpleasant and feels primordially unjust – however justified.

I can sympathise. I face criticism myself. I am human being.

And so, I have no issue with Lisa DIXON. I will readily believe that she is a loving wife and mother, in every way as commendable as our old pal ‘Fred Bloggs’.

I do not criticize Lisa DIXON for smarting under the very public criticism of the media coverage locally and nationally. She has a right to defend her own interests, including her livelihood.

But not with the resources of the Head of Legal and the Borough Councillor solicitors, all paid from the public purse. Not only do I believe that she must fight (and pay for) her own battles – as must we all – but that the law, and Council policy she is duty-bound to uphold, supports me in this view.

So the following very clear situation arises, and I refer you now to the SBC Code of Conduct for Officers.

  • “Employees, whether or not politically restricted, must follow every lawful expressed policy of the Council and must not allow their own personal or political opinions to interfere with their work.”

”Not allow their own personal or political opinions . . .”

. . . and . . .

  • “Employees should always remember their responsibilities to the community they serve and ensure courteous, efficient and impartial service delivery to all groups and individuals within that community, as defined by the policies of the Council.”

“. . . impartial service delivery to all groups and individuals . . . ”

This cannot be possible for Lisa DIXON, whose personal interest in attempting to rehabilitate her own reputation is manifestly in conflict with the terms of the Code of Conduct, because, suffering as she does under the burden of escalating adverse media criticism, she is no longer able to bear impartially the paramount burden of her Council duties and the public trust.

She is quite clearly the subject of a personal conflict of interest and is therefore not able to provide impartial advice.

The Officers Code of Conduct is very clear on this point:

  • 4.0 CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
  • 4.1 The best interests of the Council should always be the paramount consideration and employees must not allow any private interest to influence their decisions.
  • 4.4 In other cases, it is possible that the nature of the conflict of interests is such that you cannot reasonably continue to perform any or a substantial part of the duties of your job. In such cases, the authority will have to consider whether it is reasonable to pursue one of the following courses of action:

“The best interest of the Council should always be the paramount consideration”.

Irrespective of who gave the directive to issue those extraordinarily sloppy solicitor’s letters, a Legal Officer acting impartially had a duty to advise upon the precarious legal tight-rope facing the Council in making a libel claim. It is far from clear that to do so is not in itself illegal.

The premier legal precedent in the matter is known as the Derbyshire case of 1993, in which Lord Keith of Kinkel ruled (and his four colleagues unanimously agreed):

  • “It is of the highest public importance that a democratically elected governmental body, or indeed any governmental body, should be open to uninhibited public criticism.”

“Uninhibited public criticism”.

 It is clearly contrary to the public interest and to the best interests of Scarborough Council for the only existing organ of “Uninhibited public criticism” to be closed down during the run-up to the elections. This should have been the “paramount consideration” – emphatically not the personal best interests of some Councillors and/or the Monitoring Officer herself.

Since it is to be assumed that Scarborough Borough Council will not wish to fall foul of the law, and of its own Constitution and/or Codes of Conduct, binding it at all times to its duty to provide “. . . impartial service delivery to all groups and individuals . . . ”, the personal interest evidenced by the Monitoring Officer’s personal perspective is diametrically opposed to the interests of the Council – and of the public, whose right to offer uninhibited criticism has been declared sacrosanct in law.

Worse, as an Executive Officer of Scarborough Borough Council, she has a duty to set the appropriate personal example. This duty of leadership by example, especially in ethical considerations, falls most heavily upon the shoulders of the Monitoring Officer – whose specific duty it is to maintain the highest standards of moral probity in the Council. Lisa DIXON has failed in that duty.

  • What sort of Council is it, where the Monitoring Officer breaches the Code of Conduct to pursue her own interests and goes uncensured by that Council?

In accordance with Council policy, this would appear to leave only one course of action that satisfies the demands of the highest order of ethical standards to which the Council is legally bound to aspire, if Ms Lisa DIXON declines to resign.

  • (iv) Termination of employment
  • In some cases the nature of the private interest may be incompatible with continued employment in your present capacity and the authority may not be able to arrange a re-arrangement of duties or a re-deployment, or the private interest may simply be incompatible with any employment with the authority.
  • In such cases, the authority may terminate your employment.

But do not hold your breath. The greatest corruption arises from the cronyism that has engendered a cover-up-happy clique of self-publicists and self-seekers who, abusing the public trust, have consistently covered up scandals and protected those responsible for them, as specified in the linked article.

Remember:

“Corruption hurts everyone who depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority”.

15_double_dippers_DISREPUTE

 

Afterword:

In the interests of complete transparency; shortly before publication of this article, I sent an email to SBC’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Jim DILLON, lodging a Formal Complaint against his Head of Legal & Support Services and Monitoring Officer.

Posted by on April 5, 2013. Filed under Featured,News,Nigel Ward - In My View. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

60 Responses to Who is Monitoring the Monitoring Officer?


  1. Brian Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Spot on Nigel, excellent article, it will be interesting to see how many of the named and shamed will be re-elected by the sheeple who voted for them in the first place, well done mate.

  2. rahjibugha Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Problem here. I see Brian has complimented Nigel on his article, at 12.08 am 6 April. I am typing this at 09.30 6th of April.

  3. rahjibugha Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Oops, looks likeI typed it an hour ago, time flies

  4. secretsqu Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 11:45 am

    “Following the publication of Private Eye recently, in particular Tim MINOGUE’s “Rotten Borough” article “They Cannot Be Sirius”, there has been much speculation as to how these allegations of impropriety, and, indeed, possible criminality, are likely to impact upon the York Potash Ltd Planning Application.”

    I fail to see how the planning application can be impacted by those that have been mentioned in the articles above and those from both Yourself and Tim Thorne.

    As far as I am aware, Tim Lawn has resigned and both Helen Swiers and Jane Mitchell have declared an interest. On that basis, they are now not part of the application determination.

    Perhaps you could elaborate further?

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      It’s a red herring designed, I assume, to hook in the “potash crew” with the promise of some relevant substance further down the mountain of words.

      As a professional writer/journalist, I was taught never to leave opening paragraph/introductory statements orphaned or unexplained.

  5. J Chapman Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Nigel appears to be back in full flow and full health, which will be a relief to those local officials accused of almost bringing about his early demise.

    However, this diatribe is so long and meandering that it is hard to see what new points are being made. I can see that several previously published accusations are rehashed, so perhaps that’s the purpose of the piece. My old editor would have cut 95% of the words and lost nothing in the process. He would not have allowed several paragraphs explaining the perfectly obvious distinction between those who hold positions in public life and those who don’t.

    Suffice it to say, for the umpteenth time, that those in public life should not be guilty of seeking private gain from their work nor of any form of corruption.

    There are of course huge, gaping holes in this article, as there frequently are in the accusations of the soi-disant ‘corruption busters’.

    For a start, the apparent failure of a monitoring officer to make a public rebuttal of allegations does not prove that the allegations are true.

    Nor does the apparent choice of a council to threaten legal action against one person or one group of people require it to prove its consistency by threatening legal action against any other individual or group.

    Equally, it is not a defence against a charge of libel or defamation to point out that another accusatory party was apparently not charged with the same crime.

    I note too the use of weasel words at critical points in the argument. Councillor Challen has allegedly “intimated” collusion that he “believes” took place. This is shabby writing of the worst kind. Does Councillor Challen KNOW that collusion took place? Does he have any evidence of this collusion? Of course he doesn’t, otherwise it would be writ large in reputable organs and the criminals would be behind bars.

    This is just another salvo of unsubstantiated innuendo against a group of politicians who you want to bring down. Of course, the rest of your article is based on the premise that Councillor Challen’s intimations and beliefs are proven facts. There is NO evidence that the “kopz” helped the “robbers”, nor that any breach of public trust has occurred.

    Nor do you have any evidence that the monitoring officer has threatened legal action against you and your cohorts in order to defend herself. So the whole premise of your article is false, or at best highly speculative.

    It is little wonder that respectable and professional organs such as the Scarborough News and Whitby Gazette do not provide investigative journalism of your kind to their respective readerships.

    • Frank Chalmers Reply

      April 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      You meander about a bit yourself…. I stopped reading after you started complaining – AGAIN!

      If you don’t like what’s printed here, why read it?

      Who pays your bills? Wouldn’t have been the public purse at any point would it?

      You do seem to have a vested interest in overly labouring the point that the WG and ScarbNews are more “reputable” and “honest” organizations. Why is that? What’s your agenda here? You’re not being totally honest to the readers of these comments…

      I suspect something about you, and it doesn’t smell fresh.

      Just my two cents.

      • admin Reply

        April 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

        One thing I often wonder about is the handful of people who complain like hell about the site, yet join in every debate and contribute at ever occasion. Im not saying your not welcome as I’m pleased your here, the site looks very boring with no comments and no diverse view points. As Ive said elsewhere the site is here to allow everyone to have a say. But I just wonder why people who are so clearly against what the site does, spend so much time reading and contributing ? Forgive my inquisitiveness, I just like to try and understand what makes people tick, especially when I dont have a clue where they are coming from.

      • J Chapman Reply

        April 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        Frank, you exhibit all the hallmarks of an internet bully-boy – casting aspersions upon the messenger while avoiding the substance of the message. Was I so close to the mark that you have no other recourse?

        As for my interest in your arguments, if you don’t want me to read it, don’t publish it. I smell a lynch mob with a frontier mentality and I am interested to see how far you can go.

        Your modus operandi is well illustrated by your implication that I said that the Whitby Gazette and Scarborough News are more “reputable” and “honest” (your quotation marks) than RW. I didn’t use either of those words in my post so you are misquoting me.

        Other than the interest declared in my previous posts, I have no vested reason for posting here but I declare an intellectual interest in what I suspect is a campaign of mis- and disinformation organised by contributors to this organ.

        • J Chapman Reply

          April 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

          On a recount, I note that only the word “honest” is a misquote.

  6. admin Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    My old editor would have cut 95% of the words and lost nothing in the process.

    When you say editor, Im guessing you printed your articles on paper and not on the net or do you consult an editor before you put anything on the internet too ?

    I have debated this point with Nigel many times, and I would admit I agree with what you say. However Nigel is his own man and insists he covers every base in the longer articles. My own personal feeling is that long winded articles puts people off after the first paragraph, which is sad because Nigel makes many excellent points which I feel a large percentage of people never get to read.

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Yes, I was referring to old-fashioned newsprint. No-one shapes, edits or sponsors my writing these days.

      I’m sure you’re right that most visitors would never get to the end, nor even the end of the beginning, of the self-indulgent monologues here. There’s a self-destructing urge to recap all previous allegations/accusations in every new oeuvre (sometimes regurgitating them two or three times in the “new” article).

      It would be wiser to assume that readers know what was written before, or will look it up if they don’t (thanks to the convenient internet mechanics of hyperlinks and tags).

  7. Tim Thorne Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    “Does Councillor Challen KNOW that collusion took place?”

    ‘Another issue which emerged out of this hearing was that a County Council official appears to have provided at least four of the eight members with a paragraph long statement which those members then used in response to the County Council’s own investigating officer’s inquiries.’

    http://www.labour4scarboroughandwhitby.net/?p=205

    Yes, there was definitely collusion here. The official minutes are not detailed, so we are not privy to the questions that were asked and responses that were forthcoming. Cllr Challen was at the hearing and so has a much better grasp of what was said.

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Tim, the article you link to doesn’t say that there was collusion, nor does Councillor Challen as reported in Nigel’s article. In fact, the only people claiming definite collusion here are you and Nigel.

      Perhaps it would be possible to persuade Cllr Challen to speak for himself here?

      The article you rely on does state clearly that nothing dishonest or illegal went on – and also quotes some valid justifications for (legally) claiming two IT allowances.

      I suspect that there is no evidence that any of the claimants acted improperly by profiting from their claims or we would have seen it by now.

      • Tim Thorne Reply

        April 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        “Tim, the article you link to doesn’t say that there was collusion”

        Please do some research on the subject before you attempt to speak with authority on it. The Cllrs statements were posted to this website in full. Four of the statements had an identical paragraph. There was obviously collusion in the formulation of those statements.

        • J Chapman Reply

          April 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

          As I understand it, the councillors in question were all quoting verbatim from the official rules upon which they relied. If so, that would hardly amount to collusion.

          • Tim Thorne Reply

            April 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm

            You understand incorrectly. The NYCC rules were not quoted verbatim, but the four paragraphs highlighted were word for word identical.

            You really should take my advice and do some research on the subject before you attempt to speak with authority on it.

            • J Chapman Reply

              April 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

              The wording was identical because all councillors apparently received a note from an official for them to use in explanation/mitigation. From your link:

              “a County Council official appears to have provided at least four of the eight members with a paragraph long statement which those members then used in response to the County Council’s own investigating officer’s inquiries.”

              This is not collusion. This is making use of an official document to compile a response. It is not surprising nor untoward that several councillors chose to quote from this document.

              • Tim Thorne Reply

                April 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm

                “This is making use of an official document to compile a response.”

                Incorrect assumption yet again. The response came from another officer, who has in the past performed similar investigations.

                • J Chapman Reply

                  April 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm

                  Sorry, but if a document comes from “a County Council official” then it’s an official document – unpopular as that may be hereabouts.

                  • Tim Thorne Reply

                    April 8, 2013 at 10:53 pm

                    Official was it? Lack of research again…

  8. Jane Swales Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    With the integrity of the Park planning committe blown to pieces, of course the spotlight falls on the monitoring officer. She’s the one whose job it is to ensure that members do not abuse their postions by expoliting privileged information for their own gain. How dismally she has failed. The upshot can only be that the SoS must take the decision out of their hands.

    Even then, it is hard to see how poermission can be granted – that would be to reward the very people of have broken the rules and should be punished.

    Also, I am becoming rather tired of seeing the anonymous vested-interest people shooting at the messenger – with weak ammo, from concealed positions and little or no grasp of the real course of events. You did not have to buy shares. You are now paying for them with your own integrity.

  9. secretsqu Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I’m anonymous to the pages of this website. I am not anonymous to admin as I have conversed with him via. email.

    If asking a question of a very veiled insinuation makes you tired, then stop reading this site because rest assured, if somebody can post their views and questions, then I’ll continue to post mine. Afterall, isn’t that the purpose of this website?

    My shares and my integrity are doing just fine.

    Have a lovely evening.

    PS. which real course of events have I no grasp of? Is it the course of events that are printed here, or is it the ‘real’ course of events to which you refer?

  10. querty Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    York Potash Ltd. has to show that it has examined all possible alternative sites outside of the National Park, and give adequate reasons for rejecting them. The timing of the alleged land deals may (or may not) reveal that the Doves Nest site was earmarked from the beginning and that the other “alternative sites” were never seriously considered, but perhaps merely included in the application as window dressing, with spurious “technical” reasons given for rejecting them. The Doves Nest site happens to be where the best quality and thickness of the seam has been known to exist since a test bore in 1974. The question for the NYMPA is not whether there should be a mine, but whether it has to be sited within a National Park. This is the real significance of the story, aside from further highlighting the rat’s nest that passes for local politics in these parts. As the song says: it takes two to tango. The NYMPA will need to apply forensic skills if it wishes to maintain transparency.
    http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/Press-Office/News-Articles/north-york-moors-national-park-authority-looks-to-appoint-a-person-to-promote-ethical-standards

  11. Longbones Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I read J Chapman’s post with interest and he does make his point well. If it is indeed J Chapman who is the author then I would welcome the opportunity to read some of his published articles – any takers?

    I also see that admin have responded to him/her as well, and quite fairly at that.

    But first I refer to his: “Nor do you have any evidence that the monitoring officer has threatened legal action against you and your cohorts in order to defend herself. So the whole premise of your article is false, or at best highly speculative.

    It is little wonder that respectable and professional organs such as the Scarborough News and Whitby Gazette do not provide investigative journalism of your kind to their respective readerships.”

    In my day, any allegations were taken up and dealt with, for the reason that if they were not, then they could be taken as being true!

    So, from this am I to take it from J Chapman, that unless you present a perfectly edited piece for publication here (And being a card carrying member of the NUJ to boot), that any journalist in the “professional organs” worth his salt would not even look at it? Whatever happened to the guts and steel of the true investigative journalist who was led by his nose to rout out the truth and the compelling story in the face of adversity? Where are those in the “professional organs” who would make a token effort to try and even disprove the issues raised in Real Whitby?

    We remember the ill fated Scarborough Sea Defence Contracts, the Castle Foot scheme that so publicly and spectacularly unravelled in the full blaze of the Press.

    The (then) Scarborough Evening News tore the backsides out of the Council, Officers and Contractors alike – try their publication of 2nd February 2005 for size, and the “People Power forces probe to go public”. Letters and documents that were previously voted to remain out of the public gaze were published and a litany of incompetence and other things followed. THAT was investigative journalism by the professional organs. Where are these worthies now? Why are they not taking up what Real Whitby is investigating? Perhaps the Real Whitby publication embarrasses the “professional organs” and I think that this is closer to the truth.

    So, J Chapman, you may not like it and as a professional this publication may be beneath you. But in the absence of any other “organ”, Real Whitby represents the only credible investigative publication that addresses the concerns of the electorate, and with respect, as a professional, your postings miss this point.

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 7, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Longbones, I think you have misinterpreted what I wrote. In saying “the Scarborough News and Whitby Gazette do not provide investigative journalism of your kind” I was not referring to the quality of the writing but to the quality of the investigation and reliability of the conclusions reached.

      I’m sure that those newspapers have published investigative pieces which have been diligently researched and do not rely on assumption, wishful thinking, innuendo or political bias for their conclusions.

      Real Whitby appears to make no such distinctions and to allow its activist contributors to write and publish whatever they like. The consequence of this is that RW readers are fed a diet of propaganda which too often is devoid of facts or, worse, invents or distorts ‘facts’ to fit an agenda.

      This is campaign headquarters rather than a pioneering journal. Spin is on every page. A lot of the so-called ‘news’ is little more than one contributor’s assumptions or innuendos so isn’t real news. Hard facts are hard to find. Targets which choose not to respond to a relentless torrent of trumped-up allegations are thereby proven ‘guilty’.

      Respectable, professional and credible newspapers don’t work like this.

      As for my body of work, you will have to come down south to see my dusty archives. I changed career 25 years ago and I have since retired.

      • admin Reply

        April 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

        1. We arent a newspaper. This is a community website, where you the people report and discuss the news. We are open to offers on articles from anyone, including yourself.
        2. You too are already a Real Whitby contributor. What you have said will be here on record for as long as the site survives, you are part of this site.

      • mark h Reply

        April 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

        you are a funny little individual.

        you like to think you are clever too with your sly implications that some of the writers here are not good for whatever reasons you have decided to attack them for today.

        but you forgot that your comments and remarks that are designed to belittle and insult the real whitby team are really obvious to some people.

        i can see right through your little agenda. your attempts to derail the thread of conversation is laughable at best.

        you claim you are retired. prove it.

        you claim you are a journalist – prove it.

        don’t come back with any cheapo remarks that you don’t have to. you do.

        i am so amused by you people. you sit behind your computer screens making huge suggestions and comments that imply you are holier than everyone else, but in fact you are nothing more than a troll.

        show us your proof. be ‘man’ enough to actually put yourself in the spotlight and prove you are who and what you claim to be. the real whitby team do. why wont’t you?

        • J Chapman Reply

          April 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

          mark h, if your off-topic flight of fantasy and factless verdict about me is the standard for RW contributors then it is all too apparent why your elected and appointed officials have stopped responding to the allegations heaped upon them by a kangaroo court.

          By attacking me, it is you who shows your colours and tries to derail the discussion provoked by the leading article, which is certainly not about me.

          I will therefore not rise to your bait – other than to say that, unlike some, I am registered here with a real name and a real (rather than throwaway) e-mail address.

          • mark h Reply

            April 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

            you aren’t going to rise to the bait?

            you did – by replying.

            you still didn’t prove who you are.

            as for my name it is the same name i was born with. it is the name my parents called me. why would you raise this as an issue? also my email address is real. last time i checked with my email provider it was real. come to think of it all email addresses are real.

            you attack and derail, then accuse me of doing the same thing. once more your holier than thou attitude comes to the surface.

            you still haven’t proved you are who you claim to be. get yourself into the public light. if you are so good, let us see who you really are. or if you can come up with better articles for the site, why don’t you put your skills into action and prove it?

            i still say you are a troll paid to be here and with nothing better to do than to attempt to get people angry and off topic.

            • admin Reply

              April 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

              i still say you are a troll paid to be here

              I have no proof he is. My gut feeling is this guy does know his subject, I think he is an author on minerals. I would say that if he is on someones payroll then he isnt the only one.

  12. DKP Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 9:26 am

    You have not told us what you believe is factually inaccurate or in any way in error in Mr Ward’s superb and very well received article. Which rather makes your pompous rhetoric an empty vessel. You are outclassed. Go home.

  13. Longbones Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Dear J Chapman

    Forgive me for not giving you your correct title as it is unclear to me what it should be.

    Thank you for your response to my post, once again you make your point well and I thank you for it. I for one would fully recognise that you are entitled to provide your replies, and indeed in these matters it is part of the learning process underwritten by Free Speech. If spirited debate were not present or stifled, what a boring place this would be! For advice, my name is also known to RW and the reason why I write under another name is to provide some separation from my sources. This is important. Also I am both published and have edited.

    I addition, because I have had the benefit of some inside information I am aware of where the journalists of RW are coming from and of some of their sources. It is my opinion that they should not be ignored, and certainly not underestimated. This is why I cited the Scarborough Sea Defence Contracts and the subsequent reporting as a need for the “official organs” to become involved (all history now of course). I also recognise that the journalism in RW is coming from the ‘grass roots’ so to speak, and I still feel that the “official organs” have let this community down. Again, in the absence of the intervention of the “official organs” there remain many issues both ‘for’ and ‘against’ that are hanging in the air. From my experience, I believe that there are those who do not want some of these issues resolving, and this is why it is alleged that they are trying to shut this site down.

    To date I have not met the Editor of Real Whitby, perhaps I should, and indeed if you were closer I would welcome an exchange of views with you.

    So, (Mr, Miss, Ms) J Chapman, I think that we can agree to disagree on these matters, and I reiterate my own view that the Real Whitby website provides a valuable and much needed forum. Once again, I thank you for your response and in the spirit of the hard won Freedom of Speech, I wish you well.

    • admin Reply

      April 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      To date I have not met the Editor of Real Whitby, perhaps I should, and indeed if you were closer I would welcome an exchange of views with you.

      Each contributor to the site (Yourself included) is their own editor. I see my roll to facilitate open debate and to keep the site running. I keep all the software up to date and ensure the platform is here for you all to enter into free discussion. I bought the domain for £6, if its closed ill get another. My commitment is for free speech within the laws of the country. I am free to meet you or anyone else most evenings or weekends.

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

      “the Real Whitby website provides a valuable and much needed forum”
      =====
      Longbones, that’s exactly what Real Whitby is – an internet chat forum with few, if any, restrictions on what people can post.

      But it LOOKS like an online newspaper or e-zine so readers may be duped into thinking that its articles are somewhat more credible than those found in most chat forums.

      The editor/proprietor seems happy to foster the misconception that this is a professional and reputable news medium. It is called ‘Real Whitby Magazine’ rather than something appropriate like RW Community Forum. Its page layout is that of a newspaper or magazine rather than a chat room. Articles are given by-lines and editorialised introductions.

      Most tellingly, it is not easy to find an honest explanation of what this site is. Nor a headline invitation to all-comers to send in their own contributions. Nor an explanation that these will be vetted by the editor prior to publication, unlike the articles by headline contributors which are self-published without any editorial oversight. I could go on.

      I would have nowt to say if RW looked like a community forum but because it masquerades as an e-zine with editorial oversight and clearly has a political agenda I consider it to be a scam and potentially dangerous.

      • mark h Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 11:05 am

        strangely, the scarborough news, and many other news sites have layouts similar to this one. They also have comments sections for the public to discuss.

        generally anything can be posted on those forums, as long as its not advertising something else, or its offensive.

        it then makes that site a chat forum.

        you suggest real whitby has a political agenda. well, it might be unknown to you but news papers still have political agendas too.

        there are left leaning papers and right leaning papers. very political and full of agenda.

        so your arguments are daft.

        there is also a lot of information and studies that people have done that show clearly how mass media influences people. including on a political level.
        http://www.voxeu.org/article/does-mass-media-influence-voters-evidence-us

        that website pust the case forward well.

        your arguments are still daft.

        it is so easy to see through what you say. veiled insults, and bad research, seems to be your mantra.

        but once again, i ask you to prove who you are, to prove you have the skills you claim you do.

        or at the very least state what your agenda here is – other than giving out veiled insults and attempts to derail arguments.

        • J Chapman Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm

          “the scarborough news, and many other news sites have layouts similar to this one. They also have comments sections for the public to discuss.”
          =====
          But the leading articles in the online newspapers – the ones provoking the discussion – are bona fide, researched, balanced and for the most part, accurate. And their news articles are reported straight, without imposing the writer’s opinion or politics upon the reader.

          That is most certainly not the case here so there is no comparison to be made.

          • Tim Thorne Reply

            April 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm

            “But the leading articles in the online newspapers – the ones provoking the discussion – are bona fide, researched, balanced and for the most part, accurate.”

            Newspapers almost always weigh heavily on side of the political philosophies of the owner. There are precious few real independents.

  14. Dave Haigh Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I arrived at ‘Real Whitby’ accidentally, on my way to somewhere else.I never arrived at my intended destination, so riveted have I been by the material in your articles.
    As noted above it is all too easy, in the face of systematic abuse and stonewalling, to feel that nothing can be done to hold the abusers to account. You demonstrate beautifuly that the presentation of facts- matters of Public Record- in a measured and thoughtful way can be a very effective tool.
    Clearly the people of North Yorkshire are ill served by the self-serving, accountability-evading behaviour of Kenyon and co. That they should stoop to the threats and intimidation recently published seems to indicate that you are making some headway. True democratic accountability in action.
    I congratulate everyone concerned on the clarity and quality of all the articles I have read. I have been deeply moved to learn that there are people of considerable talent working ‘In The Public Interest’, and not soley for the lining of their own pockets.
    Chase the buggers out!
    And USE YOUR VOTE

  15. admin Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I have the following question via email

    mate i don’t understand nigel wards article and i’m fucked if i’m going to read it all. does lisa dixon also hold a position as a monitoring officer of the mining development application? yes or no. and if she does, how many other posts does she hold?

    • Real Whitby Reply

      April 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      I can confirm that, at the time of posting my article (at least), my best information was that the NYMNPA has a Monitoring Officer. Her name is Ms Lisa DIXON, and she has corresponded with me last week in her capacity as Monitoring Officer for the NYMNPA. I have no reason to doubt it.

      She was also the Head of Legal & Support Services at Scarborough Borough Council, and she has corresponded with me in that capacity, too.

      Hoewever, her name does no longer appears on the Chief Officers page of the SBC web-site. If memory serves (and I concede that it does not always serve as well as I would like it to), her name did appear there until very recently.

      http://democracy.scarborough.gov.uk/mgMemberIndexGroup.aspx?bcr=1&G=chiefofficers&M=mgmemberindexchiefofficers

      Check for yourselves. All of this kind of information is readily available, in the public domain.

      Didn’t someone say she’d gone to Cornwall?

      • admin Reply

        April 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

        Nigel, My friend asked for a simple yes or no. Often the way you answer questions confuses even me. My best interpretation of what you say is.

        Lisa Dixon is monitoring officer for North York Moors National Park Authority

        Lisa Dixon is Head of Legal & Support Services At Scarborough Borough Council

        Also if she is on Holiday and away from work, her privacy should be respected. Its not our business where she chooses to spend her personal time.

        • Nigel Ward Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 8:34 am

          Glenn: I make it perfectly clear in the article that the Monitoring Officer of the NYMNPA is Lisa DIXON – who is also the Monitoring Officer – as well as Head of Legal – at SBC. Or, at least, she was at the time of publication. I do not know if she still is, but I do know that her name and photo no longer appear on the Chief Officers’ page of the SBC website – as they did last week. The last bit was a reference to CodHead’s cartoon re the Cornwall Community News article. It has no impact whatsoever on Ms DIXON’s privacy. And just so readers are aware, I am NOT CodHead, okay? Please confirm that.

          • admin Reply

            April 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

            I can confirm that Nigel most certainly is not codhead. Long Live The Codhead.

  16. secretsqu Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Following the publication of Private Eye recently, in particular Tim MINOGUE’s “Rotten Borough” article “They Cannot Be Sirius”, there has been much speculation as to how these allegations of impropriety, and, indeed, possible criminality, are likely to impact upon the York Potash Ltd Planning Application.”

    I fail to see how the planning application can be impacted by those that have been mentioned in the articles above and those from both Yourself and Tim Thorne.

    As far as I am aware, Tim Lawn has resigned and both Helen Swiers and Jane Mitchell have declared an interest. On that basis, they are now not part of the application determination.

    Perhaps you could elaborate further?
    —————-
    True to form, Nigel is very vocal at posting accusations regarding SBC’s unwillingness to answer his questions and alledged evidence. The problem is that everytime somebody asks him a basic question, he refuses to acknowledge it, let alone answer it. Just like my question above.

    On that basis, the veracity of his articles could be clearly suspect,

  17. Reverend phil; Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    It is CLEAR and the message is fair. In their OWN rules under their OWN LAW and with no reasonable excuse a deed has been done by the MOST qualified to do it. SHE made her bed and should now lay in it. She has no excuse as to why, she cannot say she was coerced she cannot say she does not or did not know what she was doing, SHE DID IT.
    The consequences are CLEAR.
    AND WRITTEN, they should be applied as they would (DO) apply them to us ‘We the People’.
    It is NOT US that say this it is THEM that say it so – SO IT SHOULD BE.

    RESIGN or be FIRED.

    Namaste, rev phil;

  18. secretsqu Reply

    April 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    This is the 21st century.

    Move along.

  19. David Heselton Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Scarborough Borough Council is probably the most detested institution in Whitby, the people of Whitby never wanted to be a part of the Borough of Scarborough, they still do not want to be a part of it, no one ever asked us, there was no referendum, no mandate, we were pushed into the Borough of Scarborough by a handfull of politicians who were acting on behalf of themselves back in 1972-73.

    When will people in power ever listen or ask what WE want. ?

    • rahjibugha Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

      When WE shake off our apathy and take to the streets. The 14th of July (Bastille Day) would be a good time to commence . Or maybe if we all decided to vote in the upcoming elections, maybe that would avoid the necessity of blood shedding. Vive la revolution!

    • J Chapman Reply

      April 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

      I presume that this is the real purpose of Real Whitby. Scarborough is vilified at every turn simply because they are deemed by some to be irrelevant to Whitby and not mindful of Whitby’s interests. What Whitby really wants is independence – and its own currency, the groat. The way to achieve this is to pillory, harass, accuse, embarrass and inconvenience Scarborough officials morning, noon and night. When their downfall is finally achieved, Whitby will ride to the rescue and assume control of Scarborough.

      I only arrived at this conclusion after searching for stories/charges of corruption about Whitby officials. I couldn’t find any. There was one legitimate news story which consisted of the reproduction of Tom Brown’s resignation letter from WTC – but not a single comment about it nor any matters arising.
      http://www.real-whitby.co.uk/whitby-town-council-tom-brown-resigns

      The lack of comment is extraordinary given the space devoted to the tiniest hint of scandal in Scarborough. Where are the follow-up stories on Mr Brown’s bombshell letter?

      The only possible conclusion is that RW are interested in corruption only in Scarborough. Whitby scandals are irrelevant because they are the chosen ones who will, one day, take over Yorkshire and the world.

      • Tim Thorne Reply

        April 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm

        “Scarborough is vilified at every turn simply because they are deemed by some to be irrelevant to Whitby and not mindful of Whitby’s interests.”

        I keep telling you to do some basic research before attempt to speak with authority on something, but you fail to heed that advice and you’ve made an idiot of yourself again.

        Not all people with complaints about SBC are from Whitby. In fact, a great many are not from Whitby.

        • J Chapman Reply

          April 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm

          However, all complaints aired here ARE about Scarborough officials.

          Why haven’t you “corruption busters” tackled Whitby Town Council after Tom Brown’s revelations?

          Or have you? My research is rather basic, as you know.

          • Tim Thorne Reply

            April 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm

            “However, all complaints aired here ARE about Scarborough officials.”

            Given that Scarborough Borough Council is based in Scarborough, of course complaints would likely be aimed at Scarborough Officials. The NYMNPA uses the Borough Council Monitoring Officer too, as does Ryedale District Council.

            “My research is rather basic, as you know.”

            Indeed.

            • J Chapman Reply

              April 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

              Yes, yes, yes — but why have you apparently shown no interest in the Whitby Town Council failings exposed by Tom Brown?

              Why are the “corruption busters” ignoring Whitby?

              • Tim Thorne Reply

                April 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm

                It must have been quite a shock for you to find out that Scarborough Borough Council is based in Scarborough.

                • Nigel Ward Reply

                  April 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

                  Commenters need to read the site before posting assinine generalisations. Whitby Town (Parish) Council has taken a good share of criticsm – rather more than its strictly persuasive powers at the higher tiers merits. The simple truth is that it scarcely matters what takes place at the Pannett Art Gallery.

                  Fortunately, the better informed readers do not hold their hands in the air simply because Simon says.

  20. Martine Yates Reply

    April 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Can I just express my respect for the time being invested in exposing the truth. I wish more would follow your example and expose the reality of what is going on. Hats off!

  21. Jane Swales Reply

    April 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

    It looks like the Conservatives are about to lose their stranglehold on Scarborough Borough Council:

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/4887061/Coalition-face-votes-carnage.html

  22. Patricia Reply

    May 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

    C’est bizarre je comptais justement écrire un poste semblable à celui là


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