Do they really think we believe they didn't know?: 15th February 2009



Way back in 2002, I could see that something was wrong. I was working for a firm of solicitors, buying flats. Some of these were no more than a single large room in an old Victorian building in the middle of Leeds, divided into tiny rooms by a few flimsy partitions and with some new plumbing included. The asking price was over £125,000, and mortgages were coming in fast, mainly from Northern Rock.


The word eventually got around that properties were being sold for more than what they were worth by more than 30%.


For many years, ordinary people have been shaking their heads and saying that this could not last; you cannot run an economy on credit for ever, and that the bubble was bound to burst some time.


We are now being asked to believe that our top bankers, our top politicians (whether in government or opposition) and our top civil servants were all taken by surprise when the banks failed, and to give them the benefit of the doubt in regard to hindsight. They are even playing the blame game to try and fix responsibility on anybody but themselves or their own political party. Let’s face it: if ordinary people could see disaster on the horizon, then so did all our leaders, and if they didn’t see it, they should have done. They are all collectively and equally to blame.


Regrettably a culture of unreality seems to have gripped the nation. Take the Environment Agency, for example. They haven’t dredged the rivers since 1985. Strangely, there seems to be more flooding now than there was then. Will the Environment Agency accept responsibility? Of course not.


Similarly, at Ryedale, some councillors seem to have an  obsession with what they call the "regeneration" of Malton. They will not accept that Malton/Norton is a country market town and that is its defining characteristic. In this sad time when businesses are closing daily, they cannot see that it is their decisions which have been largely responsible for the decline of local business. Instead they put the boot in and blame the businesses themselves. One hears them talk about the quality of the towns' "retail offer", as though one might expect  Malton/Norton to have the same retail attraction as, say, Monks Cross or Clifton Moor. They offer a mere £10,000 as a fund for grants to the several hundred existing businesses, but will not take the one practical step which would help local business no end – bring car park charges down – even though it has been proved that to do so would cost the Council less than £14,000 for the first year, and result in increased use and revenue for succeeding years.


Why is it that our senior politicians, national and local, seem to live in a state of virtual reality in an ivory tower in a far distant country called “Cloud-cuckoo Land”?  They undermine democracy by bringing themselves into disrepute.




From Councillor Paul Andrews (Malton Ward)



2 The Beeches, Great Habton

York YO17 6RS

Telephone 01653-669023 Website



Dear Sir,



I write to apologise for the incorrect statement in my article in last week’s Gazette to the effect that £10,000 was being made available in grants to existing local businesses. The correct figure is £100,000 in total.


Whilst I am sure that all businesses will welcome any help the Council can provide, this does not alter the views expressed in my article.


£100,000 may seem a lot of money, but  is equivalent to less than the full cost of employing just two of the Council’s senior managers, and I believe there are about 400 existing businesses in Malton alone. If distributed equally, the benefit for each business would be £250-00, but of course this will not happen. Instead, criteria will have to be agreed, applications will have to be made, and it will be some time before final decisions are made and grants are paid.


Traders’ top priority, as communicated to the Council, was a reduction in car park fees – which they feel will increase footfall and improve the viability of their businesses by well in excess of £250-00 each.


The outcome of the car park fees trial in Wentworth Street Car Park, as shown by the figures exhibited on the “News and Views” section of my website, was that the Council’s income from Malton car parks decreased by only £13,186 during the trial period, and if the trial had been made permanent, the revenue generated from increased use in succeeding years would have exceeded the pre-trial income.


So, by being prepared to accept the loss of less than £14,000 this year, the Council might have done more good for business than paying out £100,000 in grants!


Yours faithfully,




Councillor Paul Andrews


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