John Clark writes…
First published: December 2014
Who runs Ryedale District Council? It should be you, the public, through the ballot box; the democratic process. Your elected councillor votes on issues. The outcome decides the policy of the council. Any two councillors can put forward a motion. If this gets majority support then it becomes the policy of the council.
This democracy is being abused by senior managers on Ryedale District Council. Your councillors are prevented from representing you.
One example is the Gladman Planning Application in Kirbymoorside. The Planning Committee voted overwhelmingly (9 to 1) to oppose the latest application. They gave planning reasons:
- Large (240 plus) – the Ryedale Local Plan says developments should be less than 100.
- Outside the town boundary – the Ryedale Local Plan states that any Kirbymoorside development should be inside the development limit.
- Clearly visible from the A170 – against the Local Plan.
Ryedale District Council officers (plus paid consultants) then watered down the ‘reasons for refusal’. At the Planning Appeal it was impossible to tell Gladmans and the council apart; except for the higher cost of the Gladman suits. Opposition to Gladman came from Liberal Councillors Sarah Ward and John Clark and of course the public. Democracy for the people of Kirbymoorside and their councillor was dropped in the bin.
The second example involves fracking. Fracking is a case of measuring the risk to health and the environment against possible benefits. Recently the government’s Chief Advisor on Scientific Policy warned that fracking could have serious negative impacts on health and the environment that could last for decades. He warns it could be as dangerous as asbestos, thalidomide or tobacco. Do we believe the government (spending £5million in this time of austerity on promoting fracking) or the Chief Advisor?
Ryedale Liberals believe fracking is too big a risk. Ryedale District Council can only either oppose or condone fracking. So as to achieve one of these two positions 8 district councillors called for a Full Council meeting to debate fracking. Two Liberal councillors put in the following motion for debate:
“That Ryedale District Council completely opposes all fracking in Ryedale”.
Whatever your view on fracking this debate would tell you which way your councillor(s) viewed fracking in Ryedale. In next May’s election the councillors who support your viewpoint would get your vote. You could lobby councillors with a different view. Senior Managers refused to call a Full Council. They delayed the whole process by at least 2 months, claiming we need a report.
Do you believe the council has the expertise or resources to question the Chief Advisor on Scientific Policy? Let the people of Ryedale (through their councillors) decide if they condone or oppose fracking. Part of the smoke and mirror approach is a Public Meeting. Liberals have no problem with Public Meetings. However they will not be democratic debates or votes. No decision for or against fracking. Once again democracy for the people of Ryedale is being abused by senior managers.