Remember:We are one community : 3 March 2010

For many years now, Ryedale residents have believed in Ryedale as something they belong to – not just an arbitrary line drawn on a map of local government administrative boundaries. Ryedale has become a single community with its own unique identity.


This reflects reality. Ryedale is a rural area, which is centred on five market towns and the surrounding villages. This is something which is common to the whole district. Much has been done to help the market towns work together, and there are quarterly meetings between their representatives to discuss matters of common interest, such as street cleansing, for example.


None of these towns can be considered in a vacuum. By and large Ryedale retains its local character, and the most people come from families which have lived in the district for many years – if not for generations. Members of the farming community, for example, have relatives in the villages and the towns.  Townspeople are related to people in the villages. Businesses in the towns serve the whole community, particularly the agricultural sector. We all work together and depend upon each other.


Of course, there is always the temptation to forget what binds us together and take a very parochial view. On this basis, some members of Ryedale District Council believe they should do nothing to help another member’s ward, unless the help to be provided is in the immediate, direct interest of their own ward.


So for example, Malton and Norton members could easily take the view that, as Malton and Norton now have the flood defences they need, it’s not in the interest of our ward to help Pickering or the villages cope with the flooding threat which still faces them. Fortunately none of us has ever taken this view.


Regrettably this has not been reciprocated by members of other wards.


For example, Malton’s car park fees problem has been made worse by petty minded parochial considerations.  The view is taken that there should be a single tariff throughout the district – regardless of the well-known fact that Malton cannot stand the same fees as tourist centres such as Helmsley or Pickering. Eventually, the Estate had to take back the lease of Market Place to protect their tenants and provide free parking. The result is that everyone has lost out. The annual cost to the Estate is £100,000, while the Council has lost over £50,000 annual net revenue, which has to be recovered through Council Tax – the price we all have to pay for Ryedale’s folly.


Unfortunately, Ryedale never learns from its mistakes. When the officers recommended that  fees for Wentworth Street car park should not be put up this year, because the car park could not stand it, the Council rejected this proposal because members did not see why Malton’s charges should be different from those in other wards.


This brings me to Ryedale’s LDF (or Local Plan). During the debate  on the allocation of new housing, one member after another said the character of their villages should be conserved and they wanted no more houses in their wards. They therefore expected Malton/Norton to accept no less than 50% and no more than 100% of all new houses built over the next fifteen years – to save their own patches - and this is now the Council’s “preferred option”. They were not prepared to accept their fair share of new houses, whereas Malton/Norton will accept more than their fair share – namely 30%.


This is typical of the divisive way Ryedale is politically mis-managed. Those responsible for this petty minded parochialism clearly cannot care about maintaining a single undivided Ryedale community. When they want to impose upon the towns what the towns don’t want, they say they have the right to do so because Malton is the “capital” of Ryedale. When the towns ask for something critically important, they say we can’t have it because it doesn’t benefit their own patch!


Many Malton people are getting heartily fed up with this. It is time for people in every ward to work together in the common interest. Instead of looking selfishly only at the narrow interests of our own wards, we should think about how we can help each other.



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