On Tuesday 7th November 2023 there was a Whitby Town Council (WTC) meeting. We decided to attend, since the fact that they were going to discuss the recent Town Poll reminded us that we had a Town Poll on June 13th 2022 where 93% of (2288) residents who turned out to vote requested that all new build homes were made “primary residence only, in perpetuity”. Not one council has respected this vote since that date, with SBC/NYC taking no action, and WTC stating that they would be initiating a Neighbourhood Plan back in July 2022, yet have never publicised anything about it since then. For the record, a Neighbourhood Plan gives localities the opportunity to place preferred restrictions on housing, as well as green spaces, to name but two things.
Our question at their meeting was as follows
This meeting will be discussing what to do about a Town Poll.
The town had such a Poll in June last year where residents turned out in large numbers and requested a primary residence clause on new build housing. The simplest way of achieving this, in this councils remit, would be to create a Neighbourhood Plan.
In July 2022, the Planning Committee recommended to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan.
In Sept 2022, Full Council finally passed a motion to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan and people were informed that the Neighbourhood Plan “will probably take 12-18 months”
Here we are 15 months from deciding to undertake this, no discernible progress has been made – such inaction only serves to disrespect the people who took the time to vote, and impact on their faith in voting for anything in this parish if the council doesn’t follow through.
Instead we have meaningless housing motions calling on North Yorkshire Council to do things beyond their remit, and consequently achieve nothing, for media attention and not much more.
Can this council please CEASE and DESIST from activities that achieve little and instead focus efforts on delivering the Neighbourhood Plan, something that could make a meaningful difference to life in this parish, and by doing so respecting the votes of everyone who turned out for that Town Poll?
2 basic questions that require answers:
- What are the current timescales for this council delivering the Neighbourhood Plan?
- Which groups other than Whitby Community Network will be involved?
The answers we got from WTC were that it would take 18-24 months from initiation (so confirming that nothing has been done) to complete the Neighbourhood Plan, and that no other groups had agreed to take part (other than ourselves). WTC also finally assigned 5 councillors to be part of a Steering Group, with one member of our group.
Doing nothing for 15 months is inexcusable. Having a town council that focusses on the critical issues important to residents has seemingly been a problem for the last year or so. We have to hope that this intervention will be the start of something better …