Scarborough Council: Former leader Cllr Derek Bastiman speaks about his time in office

Cllr Derek Bastiman
Cllr Derek Bastiman

After four years at the helm of Scarborough Borough Council, Conservative leader Cllr Derek Bastiman finds himself in opposition.

The long-serving councillor did not mount a challenge for the leadership on Tuesday after his party gained only 16 seats in last week’s election, eight short of an overall majority.

Labour’s Cllr Steve Siddons ran unopposed as leader despite his party getting only 13 of the 46 seats on offer. The rest of the council is made of up 14 independents, 10 of whom have formed a group led by Cllr Sam Cross, two Green councillors and a lone UKIP councillor.

As Cllr Siddons was confirmed in the post he and the former leader shared a handshake and an embrace as 20 years of Conservative rule came to an end.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Bastiman reflected on his time in the post.

He said: “I’m extremely proud of the leisure village, which I inherited as leader, Coventry University, Scarborough University Technical College (UTC), the things we’ve done in Whitby including the huts in Pier Road, the [Star Inn the Harbour] restaurant, working with the people of Runswick Bay in part financing their sea wall and at Filey with the country park with which we have worked with Cllr [Mike] Cockerill closely on that.

“Then there is coastal defence which I have raised with central Government about seeking funding from utility companies and that is gaining support now from right up in Northumberland down to Great Yarmouth.

“East Devon District Council recently put a motion to Government seeking funding from utility companies directly based on the letter I sent. So a lot of councils are supportive of this, that utility companies pay a proportionate rate towards coastal defence.”

Since 2010 Scarborough Council has made savings of close to £20 million from its budget, with millions more needed in the coming years just to balance its books.

Despite this Cllr Bastiman says that the council is in better shape now than when he took over from Cllr Tom Fox four years ago. He also said the new regime could find it difficult to get some of its decisions through the council.

He added: “Scarborough Council was in a good position when I took over and, as you’d expect me to say, I’d like to think it is in a slightly better position now, that’s not to knock the previous leader who did an excellent job.

“We have worked diligently and delivered and we had some exciting things in the pipeline for the future and it will be interesting to see how the new administration takes things on. I wish Cllr Siddons all the best with his much-reduced cabinet and his new committee structure also.

“Cllr Siddons will find it difficult, I would imagine, with not having an overall majority and relying on others and whilst we are the largest party we will be keeping a hawkish eye on things and giving strong political advice when or asked or when we think it should be given.”

Speaking on Friday, Cllr Bastiman said he would like to remain as leader of the council but, in a series of phone calls over the weekend, he said it became clear that he would not have the support he would need from councillors from other political affiliations.

He said: “Having spoken to Cllr Siddons at the count and afterwards he told me he had the support of independents and the Greens so you don’t have to be great with maths to work out he had the numbers.”

Cllr Bastiman confirmed he would be the leader of the Conservative group on the council.