Council facing questions after meeting with baroness over Richmond potholes

Baroness Harris

North Yorkshire County Council is facing questions over residents’ access to officers after a baroness was granted a meeting with several of the council’s most senior officials about road repairs close to her Richmond home.

The authority’s opposition leader Councillor Stuart Parsons has lodged a formal complaint with the authority after council leader, Cllr Carl Les, organised a site meeting for Baroness Harris of Richmond, who had raised concerns about potholes on the Darlington Road section of the A6108, in Richmond.

Cllr Parsons said when he questioned in the interests of fairness and equality whether other residents could expect to have similar meetings with officers, he was emailed by a senior officer saying the meeting had been cancelled, while a council officer deleted the meeting from his online calendar.

The Independent member said: “Being the trusting soul that I am I went anyway and despite having been told that the meeting was cancelled they all turned up.”

The Richmond councillor said the meeting was about “pulling rank” and said Cllr Les, who also attended, had gone into “overkill by inviting a director, assistant director and the area manager” to be present to answer any questions the baroness had.

He said the meeting saw the officers able to give little fresh information, particularly as Cllr Parsons had previously given updates on the road repairs at meetings of the town council, of which Baroness Harris’s husband is a member.

Cllr Parsons said: “She may be in the national legislature, but there was nothing national about her concerns and her position would not enable her to do anything nationally about the road surface of Darlington Road.

“North Yorkshire County Council by allowing this is confirming that there are differing access levels for different residents. Can you imagine the public reaction?”

In response to Cllr Parsons claims, the council’s chief executive Richard Flinton acknowledged that the issues concerning Baroness Harris “could have been dealt with differently”, but added he did “not find any fault with the way that they were approached in this instance”.

Mr Flinton said: “I accept there were a number of senior officers involved.

“In terms of whether this was disproportionate, you do have to take into consideration that Baroness Harris is a member of the House of Lords and part of the country’s legislature.

“She does have a particular role in society which can promote the interests of North Yorkshire and the locality and it is therefore not unreasonable that the meeting was given some stature and senior officers were involved.”

Cllr Les said he had been happy to arrange a meeting with Baroness Harris and the senior highways team about proposed roadworks in the Richmond area and there had been nothing improper about the meeting with a “senior parliamentarian and alderman of the council”.

He said the meeting had not just been about a road that Baroness Harris uses frequently as it also highlighted other planned roadworks in the Richmond area.

Cllr Les said: “I get approached by a number of people about things that are going on.

“Only the week before I was in Colburn, discussing with the local member there improvements that were needed to the A6136.”

4 Comments

  1. Seems like preferential treatment to me. Perhaps she would like to take over rishis role in representing the local constituents as he don’t seem to give a flying f$%^ unless there’s a photo opp.

  2. Don’t we all want our roads to be sorted? Personally I’m just delighted that someone has finally managed to get the powers that be at NYCC to take note of the poor state of Richmond’s major roads. As our County Council representative, maybe Cllr Parsons should be thanking Baroness Harris for this rather than criticising.

    • Thank you very much for these comments. I will be writing to the D&S Times with my response to Cllr. Parsons ridiculous attack on me! All I ever wanted was to get DarlingtonRoad resurfaced!!

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