The Council

The Conservatives now virtually control Ryedale District Council. Their leader has become the Leader of the Council.

There is a leaders' group which makes all the decisions. This includes the leaders of the Conservatives, LibDems and Independents. They meet in private; the dates of their meetings are unknown, and no minutes are made public. One result is that there is a perception that there is no real opposition which can hold the controlling group to account. Another result is that major matters concerning particular wards can suddenly appear on committee agendas and take the ward members (who have received no advance warning or consultation) by surprise ­ particularly when it turns out that all the leaders are voting the same way.

My position

I put myself up for election as a member of an independent residents' group. There were two of us. I told voters that, if only one of us was elected, the other would be an Independent. Unfortunately, my colleague was not elected. So I applied to join the Independent Group, but they refused to admit me. This has left me on my own. However, this has not prevented me from doing my job, and, although there is a limit to what can be achieved by one councillor on his own, I have had some success.

The following is a brief note of some of my work:

Malton Market Place

Plans have been produced by consultants showing ways of "transforming" Malton. I have made strong objections to the "preferred" suggestions for Wentworth Street Car Park and Market Square. Believe it or not, there is a proposal to put a superstore in Wentworth Street Car Park, together with a multi-storey car park!

I have strongly opposed the proposals for Market Square. The idea is to stop the use of the area by the church for car parking and convert it into a green open space,, and to stop up the road at the top. The road at the bottom would become two way - in spite of the obvious constriction between the Post Office and The Mercury Office! Buses might even be routed up Saville Street!

This is in spite of widespread public concern which was noted by the consultants, in regard to the shortage and cost of car parking.

Needless to say all three group leaders support these strange proposals. They discussed them and authorised their promotion long  before local Malton ward members or Town Council knew anything about them.

It is changes of this kind, as well as the Council's arrogance and insensitivity in regard to issues such as car park charges, which demonstrate just how wide the gulf has become between the political establishment at Ryedale House and the communities they are supposed to represent.

Click here for recent article

One step back - Car Park Fees

As is well known, I campaigned strongly for lower car park fees in the last Council. The outcome of the campaign was a revised tariff for all Council car parks, a two year moratorium on further increases, and a 12 month "pilot" for long stay charges at Wentworth Street Car Park, Malton


In July, the "pilot" was declared a failure, as there was no appreciable increase in ticket sales. The facts that the £1-50 all-day rate encouraged shoppers to stay longer in the car park and encouraged office and business staff to use Wentworth Street instead of crowding the Market Square car parks was not only ignored, but these matters were not even measured.

So, as from September, the one fee fits all syndrome was applied to Wentworth Street and the charges went up to the level applicable in the rest of Ryedale.

This has been followed by a further decision to put all long-stay car park charges up as from 1 st April - in one of the bands, by as much as 15%.

The result is that the charges in Malton are well in excess of those that apply to similar towns with little in the way of tourist attractions. They are not too high for tourist towns like Pickering. So, by applying a one charge fits all policy, Ryedale is actually favouring Pickering at the expense of Malton? Is this fair?

All the Council's leaders, including the Liberal John Clark, have voted in favour of this appalling decision.

For more information, click here

One step forward - Flooding and Land Drainage

The Environment Agency has produced a ''flood management plan" for the River Derwent Area. This would seem to be finance led, as one of the main recommendations is to breach the lowland flood defences and "unite the river with its natural flood plain".

Click here for correspondence with Environment Agency

This is a separate issue to the need for flood defences for Pickering, which I am happy to leave to others to promote.

For the last three and a half years I have campaigned for the Council to pay for the first phase of an expert investigation into the hydrology of Ryedale. The Council has at last agreed to this. This should help Ryedale residents - particularly those in the farms and the villages - in their dealings with the Environment Agency.

Click here for more information

The Local Plan (the so called "Core Strategy") - another step in the right direction.

This is a debate that has been going on for about three years. The present Local Plan is out of date, and a new one has to be put in its place. The first stage is to establish a "Core Strategy".

As part of this, it is planned to build 3,500 new houses in Ryedale in the next 15 years. The question is: where should they go? The Council decided to press ahead with a plan to restrict most new housing to 10 service villages and the four market towns. There was a public enquiry, and ten minutes before this was reconvened in November 2006, the inspector was told that 50% of all new houses were to be in Malton/Norton. The figures produced then had not been before any Council committee, although one assumes that they had been previously approved by the Leaders' Group. Fortunately, the Inspector found that the Core Strategy was unsound and refused to approve it.

The inspector's decision enraged the Council leadership

After the enquiry and the inspector's decision, I worked hard with others of all political persuasions to make sure that town and parish councils were properly consulted on these proposals. Malton and Norton Town Councils were particularly concerned about the quantity of new houses, and the quality and capacity of the infrastructure (schools, roads, drains and sewers etc.) that might be available to accommodate 1,750 new houses. They said they were prepared to accept 30% of the district's new houses - not 50%.

Conversely, some parish councils were concerned about the policies which would severely restrict new houses in villages, and the effect that this might have on the vitality of the villages themselves.

I prepared a long submission to the Council, which is exhibited on this site.Click here for my observations on the LDF. The Council's P&R Committee seems to have taken notice, as they have decided to defer proceeding with the Core Strategy, while at the same time they consider the allocation of new sites. Hopefully this will mean that the Core Strategy will be revised to take into account the representations that have been made and the public will be able to see what the Core Strategy is going to mean in terms of what is actually going to be built.

Eden House Road Development.

This is a proposal for a 25 acre business park right outside Eden Camp. The intention is to create between 600-800 jobs, and to include a publicly managed enterprise centre inside it. At the beginning I had some reservations, but did not feel strongly enough to speak out against it. However, I did expect Ryedale and the County Council to get a reasonable access with a roundabout, and to ensure that there would be no vehicle conflict with traffic from Eden Camp.

Regrettably, I expected far too much: the proposals that came before committee at the beginning of this month had no roundabout; no separate access, and the site shares the only real access from the A170 with Eden Camp. You don't have to be genius to see what is going to happen!

All three Council leaders voted in favour of this dreadful scheme.

I have taken up this matter with County Highways, spoken against the proposal and have joined the campaign to get the Secretary of State to call the matter in for a full public enquiry.

Click here for correspondence before the Planning Committee meeting

Click here for later correspondence 1, and here for 2; and here for 3; and here for 4

Sports Centre

One of these days I am going to count up the amount of money which has been spent on consultants on this project. Every time we seem to be on the point of getting the sports centre built, another issue arises, and another consultant's report required. There have been so many of these that I have lost count, and I can see little purpose in them except as delaying tactics by the Conservative Group: they don't  seem to want a sports centre, but they're afraid to say so. So they waste the Council's money on consultants instead.

Click here for all articles on Sports Centre

 Malton Hospital

The grounds have been in an untidy state. I have supported a ward member in his determination to get the grounds properly maintained. I have had meetings with the hospital manger and officials of the relevant trusts, and the grounds are now well looked after.

Click here for letter from NHS Trust   and here for page 2

The Cattle Market

I have had meetings with both Roddy Bushell and James Stephenson about this difficult issue. My views to date were published in an article in the Gazette on Christmas Eve. I do believe there is room for negotiation, and shall do my best to help both sides to achieve a compromise - if this is at all possible.

Click here for article

Two Week Rubbish Collection

This is a matter which concerns many people, particularly in Summer. I would like to hear from you, with a view to getting a campaign going. Anybody interested, please use the "contact" tab to let me know.

A lot has happened in the last eight months. I shall continue to work hard for the residents of Malton Ward.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

18th December 2007

 Revised 30th December 2007


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