Whitby Harbour dispute is set to go to court after several years of legal and financial challenges

The Whitby Harbour dispute is set to go to court next month following several years of legal and financial challenges.
Whitby harbour.
Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.Whitby harbour.
Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Whitby harbour. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The case is set to be heard at the Leeds District Registry of the High Court next month.

A three-day hearing will commence on Monday, March 4, North Yorkshire Council has confirmed.

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The long-running dispute centres on an objection made by the Fight4Whitby pressure group which argues that more income has been taken out of the harbour by the council than has been spent on it.

The group launched a legal challenge in 2016 based on the 1905 Whitby Urban District Council Act.

The local legislation states that income from Whitby Harbour should be used within the harbour.

The dispute has meant that the former Scarborough Borough Council’s (SBC) accounts have not been signed off for several years.

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SBC’s accounts dating back to 2015/16 are still pending approval as a result.

Following last year’s local government reorganisation, North Yorkshire Council became responsible for the now-defunct councils’ financial commitments and concerns have been raised about their impact on the new authority.

Speaking last November, the chair of the audit committee, Coun Cliff Lunn, said: “We have not received a statement of financial accounts from Scarborough for many years because of some legal difficulties over harbours and parking and when it comes to the committee we will look at it”.

At a full meeting of NYC on Wednesday February 21, councillors approved the authority’s annual budget for 2024-25, but the pending accounts from Scarborough Council were not mentioned.

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An objection has also been made regarding Scarborough Harbour and it is “similar” to the Whitby Harbour objection “in respect of some historic local legislation relating to the treatment of income from Scarborough Harbour”, according to council officers.