THE war of words between Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire councils has been inflamed through the widespread circulation of an email sent by Hull City Council Leader Councillor Stephen Brady to each and every member of the Hull council’s workforce.
The email sent last Friday 8th August 2014 was aimed at reassuring staff about the purposes of the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Hull council and to counter “misleading or inaccurate” media coverage. However, it disputes claims made in the media by East Riding Leader Councillor Stephen Parnaby that the purposes of the Commission was to justify a ‘land-grab:
“What we have is a take-over bid by the city council and it is pretty crude – no frills or finesse – just a land-grab.” – Press release Cllr Stephen Parnaby, OBE 30th July 2014.
In an opening statement in the letter, Cllr Brady writes:
“…it is not about doing away with the East Riding (Hull is – and always will be – in the East Riding), nor is it a ‘land-grab’ or an attempt to build on the green space around Hull. It is about looking at how Hull – and the wider region – can make the most of the opportunities we now have to bring more jobs and investment into our area.”
Cllr Brady also says that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has been invited to play a part in the Commission of Inquiry and in a set of Frequently Asked Questions that was attached to the email it says: “The Commission has invited the East Riding of Yorkshire Council to participate in the review on two separate occasions but has received no response or acknowledgement to these approaches.”
The view being put forward by the East Riding Council leader and local councillors is that (from the same press release quoted above): “Hull City Council set up the commission to look into boundary change with no discussion whatsoever with us. The city council decided who would be on the commission, again with no discussion with us and with no invitation to join it.” The new “Hands Off!” campaign website goes even further: “Hull CC has not even had the decency to talk to us about it. How arrogant is that!”
Whilst the truth of the matter probably lies in the actual timing of any invites issued to the East Riding i.e. at what point in the process was participation requested, the tussle over the matter serves to highlight the differences that exist between the two authorities.
The Boundary Referendum to be held next month (at a cost of up to £60,000) is criticised in Cllr Brady’s email as a pointless exercise: “Asking a limited number of communities for their views through a referendum based on existing, if outdated, prejudices will not provide any answers or help anyone to understand where the problems lie or how much the existing arrangements are holding us back. That is simply a popularity contest between the councils, from a chosen few, and completely avoids the real issues.”
“The outcome will have no bearing on the work of the Commission, which at this stage is simply looking at the evidence and examining the options for change… it would be up to the Government’s National Boundary Commission to consult ALL of the communities affected by any proposals – rather than residents living in a limited number of areas. In this respect, the referendum misses the point entirely.”
However, despite the points of contention, the email does explain more about the thinking behind Hull City Council’s move to set up the Commission and deserves to be published for those purposes.
Whilst the email itself has not been published, a shorter version is available on the Hull City Council website: Hull City Council – Boundary Commission.
See also: “Not a ‘land grab’ or attempt to build on green space” says Hull Council Leader
on HU12 Online.