Ryeview – July 2005

I’ve been banned from Flamingoland!

John Clark writes…

First published: July 2005 – Gazette & Herald

We have questioned, debated, dug in our heels and generally the Liberals have been a thorn in the side of Ryedale District Council. The Council hasn’t liked it. We have been removed from committees and working parties because we don’t agree. Not very democratic but all part of life. The latest twist is bizarre. As a result of questioning RDC I have been ‘prohibited’ from Flamingo Land Zoo and Pleasure Island in Cleethorpes.

I will explain. In the May Full Council a member of the public asked some questions about certain animals at Flamingo Land Zoo. Why ask the Council? There are two reasons. Firstly it is the Council that issues the licence to the Zoo. Secondly the questions had first been asked six months earlier. The Chair of Council replied that ‘Clearly the questions raised by Ms Sue Stone are of a serious nature and deserve a full and considered response which the Council is unable to provide tonight.’

This all seemed fine to me, albeit a little slow prior to the public question. Hopefully now full and accurate answers would be provided.

As part of the process a visit to the Zoo was planned. As we Liberals had no representative on the Community Services and Licensing I asked if I could go on the visit by Councillors. This was agreed and off I went to the Zoo.

My judgement was that the Zoo had vastly improved but I had some questions. The next stage was the Community Services and Licensing Committee. It met and considered an officers report. There was a general discussion and the following was decided: –

‘That the next full periodic inspection by three independent experts be brought forward to May/June 2006 and that the matters raised by the complainant, as far as they are relevant at that stage, be put before them. In the meantime the Zoo’s management be supported in their plans to continue their policy of improvement.’

None of this appeared relevant to answering the questions. It is the responsibility of Ryedale District Council to ‘answer the questions’. Moving the date of the next inspection from November 2006 to May 2006 seemed irrelevant. If there were things ‘wrong’ how would moving the date by six months change anything?

Far more important was the fact that the questions from the member of the public were not answered. I had sat and watched the whole of the Community Services and Licensing Committee. My opinion was that the decision was not made within the council rules. The decision did not answer the questions put to the Council. In fact the questions were not in front of the committee. I then asked three members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee if they would join with me to ‘call the decision in’. All agreed and I collected two of their signatures. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee met and agreed to get the Community Services and Licensing Committee to re-examine their decision and TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.

That is where we are now when I received a letter from Flamingo Land. This is a fascinating document

  • I am now ‘on Flamingo Land’s prohibition list’.
  • ‘The company feels that your interesting our operation is totally biased and your continued derision of our zoo …..’
  • ‘You have been warned.’

I am confused and somewhat bewildered. Questions have been asked about the zoo. They are still unanswered. My main criticism is of the council for taking so long in not completely answering the questions from the public.

Why am I being prohibited? My first visit to Flamingo Land Zoo was around 1965, my second this year. At that rate prohibiting me from visiting the zoo in 2045 does seem a bit excessive and very likely posthumous. My family visited about 15 years ago, does this restriction prevent them going in 2020?

As a member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee my role is to question, check, monitor the council. As usual I am left with questions.

  • Is it natural behaviour for parrots to ride bicycles whist talking on the phone?
  • Why has the alligator not been re-housed before now?
  • Why has it taken the Council so long to answer the questions?

These are all questions that have been asked of the council. I was elected to question Ryedale District Council. It is not up to the zoo or anyone else to try and prevent those questions being asked. I hope to receive an answer as to why I have been prohibited from Flamingo Land. As for Pleasure Island, should I not have been voted off? These thoughts of course are followed by others.

  • Why doesn’t Flamingo Land want me to visit?
  • Why doesn’t Flamingo Land want me to question the council?

Why have I been warned?

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