Letter: Indifference from upper tier to views

Concern about the indifference apparent in the upper reaches of Scarborough Borough Council
Concern about the indifference apparent in the upper reaches of Scarborough Borough Council

I had hoped to send information below, by email to all councillors. However the fact that Scarborough Borough Council (unelected) officials are intercepting certain emails intended for councillors (Rotten Borough’ section in Private Eye) suggests that I might be better off writing an open letter to councillors:

You may feel that the fate of a bowls club has nothing to do with you but the behaviour of council officials must surely concern you.

As might the fact that the council gave a £9million unsecured loan in 2013 to Benchmark.

I write to express concern about the indifference apparent in the upper reaches of Scarborough Borough Council towards its council taxpayers and electorate who happen to be members of South Cliff Bowls Club, not to mention the residents who have been told nothing.

On May 26 the South Cliff Bowls Club is informed that it will be tentatively marketed, along with the former Filey Road Sports Centre and would be provided for on the former site at Sea Cliff – a windswept, cliff area site, not missed by anyone in the club who has bowled there.

There was no consultation, unlike in the 2011 development brief regarding the Filey Road Sports Centre when a great deal of effort went into talking to the residents and getting their views in an eight week period June 13 - August 8, 2011.

The resultant development brief was in keeping with the area - low density development in a conservation area etc.

This seems to have been thrown out, as the latest marketing material suggests.

August 4 BNP Paribas marketed the bowls club as a dashed line in their marketing material together with several feasibility masterplans (anyone wishing to see them - contact savethegreen@icloud.com) - these ranged from 55 houses: houses, hotel, pub and car parks.

As a club there has been no communication.

The club held an EGM and a public meeting - there was tremendous support for staying where we are and opposing the extreme masterplans evident.

Organisations have been contacted - their support enlisted, articles in the press, TV and radio coverage; and a petition organised by The Scarborough News has yielded in excess of 400 forms.

In addition, the dedicated email has received many messages of support.

On September 24, the club applied to be designated an Asset of Community Value. This was confirmed in late November. What impact this will have remains to be seen.

October 17 at Cabinet - you can view it all on https://scarborough.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/312322 and view agenda item 13 where you will see and hear the following:

The portfolio holder, Cllr H Mallory, recommends the adoption of a third resolution, ie: “To authorise Mr Edwards, in conjunction with myself, to consult with the South Cliff Bowls Club about finding a suitable alternative site to facilitate the club and on that basis I would like to add that to the recommendation.”

Looking at the minutes of the said cabinet meeting they state:

Authorise Director (NE) in conjunction with the portfolio holder to consult with the South Cliff Bowls Club about finding a suitable alternative site to facilitate the club.

So, following the meeting we were anticipating a visit from the above mentioned.

Now as of the first week of December, we are still waiting.In the interim we have managed to engage with one of our two ward councillors, to explain our concerns.

At the recent South Cliff Community Group November 14 meeting, there was a ray of hope. Finance director - Nick Edwards - offered the following answer to a question from the chairman of South Cliff Community Group regarding consultation. He stated that he would come back to the bowls club and wider community before a decision is made by cabinet (I assume the decision he means is the acceptance of a bid) and then again at planning. We are still waiting.

We have also requested a meeting (email November 7) with the chief executive and leader.

Despite initial interest, and a response on November 23 focusing on legal confidentiality clauses are still waiting.

However, the last email (November 24) did suggest that this meeting might take place at some time in the future – once the council is in receipt of BNP’s report.

As we approach Christmas, we are left with the feeling that our views, opinions will not be heard and the heritage of the site will not be considered.

The next cabinet meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2018.

The cynics might suggest that the bid will be nodded through at that meeting with no consultation with the bowls club, nor any information/consultation for the residents.

Perhaps the council might consider consulting us before any deals are done. They might then avoid another embarrassing entry in Private Eye.

John Rowlands

South Cliff Bowls Club

Filey Road

Scarborough