If you want an example of how not to regenerate a town, Bridlington is a prime example. These are not just my words; speak to residents of the town, and they will tell you the same. Millions of pounds has been spent on controversial projects and despite local opposition, the appointed guardians of regeneration, the Bridlington Renaissance Partnership (BRP), has ploughed on regardless. One councillor told me many residents have contacted him with complaints, but because the BRP is not under the control of East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) he was unable to put a stop to the excesses.
Yorkshire Forward – along with all Regional Development Agencies – is soon to be confined to the dustbin of history, therefore ERYC has now decided to fund the BRP itself. There isn’t going to be a review into how the regeneration will continue. The same people will be employed to do the same things – the very same things people have been complaining about. Here is a quote from Cllr Geoff Pickering who represents the Bridlington South Ward:
"The cabinet has approved a number of notable extensions to the lifetime of the Bridlington Renaissance Project, but without reassessment of the delivery needs and mechanisms.
"Despite the cabinet's continued support, the council's aims for the town's economy have not been realised. In any other environment, this would trigger a thorough investigation, not another extension.
"There has not even been a basic skills assessment of the posts involved to ensure we have the right job descriptions and right capacity to move forward, instead, an unquestioned extension of all contracts.
"This does not represent best practice and is not a financially responsible position. This report is authored by officers who have a vested interest in maintaining their jobs."
Cllr Pickering sums it up. If public money is going to be placed into the regeneration pot, there must be careful consideration of the needs and views of local people. In private business, aims and objectives would have to be met, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business for very long. Carrying on regardless – which appears to be the policy of ERYC – not only continues to waste public money, but is a ‘kick in the teeth’ for hard pressed taxpayers paying for it.
Senior ERYC councillors must take political control and do the job they were elected to do. They must no longer give the BRP a free hand. They must listen and act on the views of local councillors and residents. There needs to be a clear business case put forward before a penny more is spent, and those responsible for previous failures need to be told to look for alternative employment.
Put in place the right tax and regulatory regimes, work hand-in-hand with the private sector, and solutions will be found that will create jobs and prosperity. As for the grandiose nonsense no-one wants; confine it - just like Yorkshire Forward - to the dustbin of history.