On 9th March last year I ran a story about Ward Cllr David Sykes telling Pocklington Town Council that East Yorkshire Council were about to start looking for land on which to build a new swimming pool for the town.

He mentioned a project duration of two and a half years and said Pocklington is now a key priority for investment with a budget of £10 to £11m. Cllr Sykes even approached Pocklington Cricket Club to ask if they would be willing to sell their ground to extend the current leisure centre.

In response to a question from the mayor at the December Town Council meeting Cllr Paul West said that he had been contacted by local landowners and had passed their details onto council officers and options were being considered for the new leisure centre. He added that the council are definitely going ahead with it.

At last week’s council meeting I asked Cllr David Sykes if there was a budget for the new leisure centre. He said there is a budget of £12m but couldn’t say where the money would come from. He said as far as he was aware the intention is to rebuild Francis Scaife but agreed there was no budget within the 5-year plan but that’s not to say that things won’t change.

During December and January, I wrote to the Cllr responsible for leisure, the director for culture and the executive director of planning to ask three simple questions about Francis Scaife. No one replied. So, I submitted a Freedom of Information request.

Yesterday I received the following response:

1. There’s not been a decision taken by the council to search for land for a new leisure centre in Pocklington
2. No one has been requested to search for plots of available land.
3. There is currently no capital budget set aside for the purchase of land and a new building in Pocklington.

The sad fact is that, despite all the positive words from ward councillors Pocklington will not get a new pool or leisure centre anytime soon. Nothing will happen because there’s no money and no one is fighting for us.

Along with the Western parishes we once again find ourselves in the overlooked and forgotten corner of East Yorkshire whilst the investment and attention continues to go to Beverley, Goole, Bridlington and Hornsea.

Given the FOI response I am left scratching my head about why Cllrs Sykes and P West made such statements to Pocklington Town Councillors. If I were a Town Councillor I’d feel misled. If I was one of the landowners mentioned, I’d feel as if they had wasted my time.

I find it difficult to believe that Cllr Sykes made this up or deliberately misspoke. He seems to me to be a decent man. I am left with the feeling that there is something very wrong with the relationship between council officers and elected representatives and that our elected ward councillors lack the confidence or ability to ask meaningful questions or challenge council officials. The council’s inability to reply to entirely reasonable questions is disturbing. I think Private Eye were right when they named ERYC a ‘Rotten Borough’.

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