Matt Scott is the candidate for the Bilton and Nidd Gorge by-election on 6 May 2021.
We asked why he is standing ?
I am a lifelong Bilton resident and have lived in different parts of Bilton all my life. I went to Richard Taylor Primary School and now serve as a charity trustee on the Richard Taylor Educational Trust. The Trust gives grants to young people in the community for things like school trips which otherwise they may not be able to go on or buying equipment for college course. It’s really nice to be involved with the school again.
Residents in the Woodfield are of Bilton will already know that I am a serving district councillor and my day job is a caseworker for our local MP, Andrew Jones. This means I am very much involved in local issues in the community that I grew up in and have lived in for 28-years. Out of the six candidates in the by-election I am the only one who actually lives in the division being contested.
I was elected to council 2018 and have worked hard since then to achieve good outcomes for residents on issues such as litter, housing and protecting our green spaces. Being a case worker for Andrew is, in a way, similar. With both roles you are there to help people, to get good outcomes for them and to get redress for them. I do the same thing as Borough Councillor for Bilton Woodfield as I do in Andrew’s office. We worked together closely on the political campaign to successfully defeat the Nidd Gorge relief road proposal.
If you are already a Borough Councillor, why become a County Councillor too?
There quite a few councillors that serve on both Borough and County Council. Since May 2018 I have proven I can achieve at the district level and now want to take that same work to the county council. With the county division being so big, it is served by two county councillors, the other being Paul Haslam.
Paul is my next door neighbour as he represents Old Bilton on the Borough council and we already work very closely together.
Whoever wins on Thursday will need to work with Paul Haslam to get things done.
I already do this with examples including the relief road and opposing the Knox Lane planning application where Paul has worked extensively with local residents.
What about housing in the area?
The main issue I have dealt with as a local councillor is the development of the old Woodfield House care home site. That closed a few years ago and residents were relocated to a new facility in Starbeck. What it left behind was a brownfield site that attracted fly-tipping.
Fast forward to where were are now the county council’s has retained ownership of the land for its own housing company and is constructing 19 houses, ten with two bedrooms, seven with three bedrooms and just two with four bedrooms. I met with the developers quite a few times, leafletted the residents in the immediate area and I fed back the comments.
Plans were modified in terms of the number of bedrooms in each house, parking was increased to two spaces per house and trees were saved from being cut down. Work is progressing quickly and is currently ahead of schedule.
Antisocial behaviour is the hot topic online around Bilton, what is your take about what’s going on?
I have seen the same things online as many other people. The Bilton Community Facebook Group, set up by Tyler Reeton the Labour candidate, has given a forum for discussion around anti-social behaviour and I am grateful to Tyler and Ben the co-creator for doing this. It has meant that incidents can be described, sometimes with photos added, and they will be seen by many more people. Having lived in Bilton my whole life I know that isolated incidents of antisocial behaviour have always occurred but are committed by a tiny minority of people. We do not necessarily know if it has got worse or has got better recently.
My role as a local councillor is to work with the Safer Communities team at Harrogate Borough Council, which I do, as well as with local residents and ensure there is a flow of reporting on any incidents. We are also encouraging people to report any incidents to the police and the outcome of that is more police on the streets of Bilton. I think it is right that people have the discussions online and talk to other people about it to find out what’s going on. Equally when we see crime, it needs to be reported to the police. If the police have more reports they will put more resource in to the area in question and we are seeing that happen now in Bilton.
What are the other issues in the ward, the Skipton road has previously been a problem with road works ?
We need to keep in mind that the area isn’t just Bilton Park as it also includes Coppices, Chatsworth Grove, Westville Oval and other areas on the opposite side of the A59 to Bilton. I think my campaign has tended to be Bilton-centric though that is because it is the area I already represent and where I have a record of positive action.
That being said I know that the Skipton Road gas works completed recently were frustrating for many local residents. Utilities have the right to dig up the roads and this work was essential pipe replacement. The work was complex but it will not need re-doing for a very long time and that’s a good thing. What we have learnt from that is that the contractors and utility companies need to do more to communicate with residents, especially if work overruns.
I think there is a piece of work around that to understand what went on and how to improve communication between contractors and residents. It is however also a timely opportunity to look at if we need to use the car as often as we do. We have the Greenway that takes you all the way from Bilton to Asda on a route where you do not need to cross roads or wait in traffic queues.
It’s a ready made route for many of us to use either for walking or cycling and has been very popular over the past year with us all staying local much more.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections, along with the Bilton by-election are on Thursday, 6 May 2021. The count is taking place on Friday.