Whitby has an opportunity that hasn’t existed for 50 years.
We will be represented by two county (soon to be unitary) councillors wholly focused on the town of Whitby and our needs.
Last week’s election has brought about a new political balance to the shape of county politics in Whitby.
Let’s hope that political differences don’t get in the way of fighting on behalf of Whitby people at county hall.
Both Phil Trumper and Neil Swannick know how local politics work and I hope they are both nimble enough to overcome the party machine and put Whitby first. In particular, Neil will need to draw on the community to add weight to his voice in the Conservative controlled county administration.
The fact that for the first time since 1974 North Yorkshire isn’t a one-party state should add leverage to any campaign from the grass roots.
County hall thinks Whitby should continue to sit alongside Scarborough in its new area committee, based on the parliamentary constituency of Sir Robert Goodwill. But Whitby is very different to Scarborough.
We’re not going to be free if we still have to share a bedroom with our big brother. This has been the town’s cross to bear since 1974 and it should be lifted from our shoulders in the new North Yorkshire.
We’re surrounded by a National Park with inadequate protection from the planning system. We’re on the eastern fringe with virtually one road in and one road out. We have a rail system where it’s more reliable to take the steam train to Pickering than it is to take a pacer train to Middlesbrough. Shellfish stocks are decimated and no one beyond the smell of the sea cares or wants to take control of the issue, our fisherman have been left to go it alone.
Elsewhere, the assumption is that we live in a picture postcard, and we should be grateful. That’s not enough. We – and the visitors we attract to the coast in ever greater numbers – deserve better. Better housing provision; better transport links; better public transport; better park and ride; better broadband; better opportunities and better infrastructure for 21st century staples like working from home, EV charging, responsive customer service and digital access.
Local voices are important. Whitby is a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown, let alone North Yorkshire’s. It feels like we have been all too easily out of sight and out of mind. We have been left behind for too long. There’s a lot for our new county councillors to do. Let’s hope they can combine their voices to speak for Whitby.