Gummer riding high for a fall on Goole

Jonathan Foster reports on a port that knows its place. Or did, until a minister struck

Goole spoke yesterday, and the ears on John Gummer must have burnt. The Secretary of State for the Environment has the inland port on his conscience and in his pending tray since a much-vaunted review of local government left it high and dry.

The Gummer map of English councils, an increasingly confused piece of cartography, abolished Humberside, where Goole had remained resentfully since a previous Tory government plucked it out of Yorkshire 21 years ago.

With a stroke of a marker pen 200 miles away in London, Humberside was broken into three new councils and Goole was coupled with Selby, the equivalent of asking Mr Gummer to share a hotel room with a woman priest.

Goole has sat on the banks of the Ouse only since 1826, when a canal made it a major port for the West Riding's woollens and coal. Its brief prosperity was the result of Tom Bartholomew's patented "Tom Puddings", canal "trains" which brought coal for easy loading on to coasters. Mr Gummer is now seen locally as something of a pudding.

There is no ecumenical feeling toward Selby, and the alienation is mutual. Selby, with its abbey and its agrarian estates, is posh; Goole, its derricks jutting out of the arable landscape like dissenting spires, is blue-collar. Selby Conservatives were particularly alarmed by the proposed map. Apart from sharing resources with 18,000 Goole riff-raff, the new council could mean a revised Westminster constituency, Goole's staunch Labour vote making life awkward for Michael Alison, Selby's erstwhile comfortable Tory MP.

Mr Gummer moved swiftly to keep Goole out of Selby - and out of anywhere else until "wide-ranging local consultations" have been completed. The Goole Times & Chronicle, a sceptical observer of Tory map-making, asked its readers where their unwanted town should go. One reader sought anschluss with Scunthorpe; lured by pensioners' bus passes, 13 per cent favoured creating a Greater Doncaster, but 73 per cent in the poll published yesterday opted for another of Mr Gummer's creations, the nascent East Riding council.

"I think people are punch drunk from it now. Only lip service has been paid to the principle of consultation," Peter Stanley, the Times editor, said. The paper is neutral, although he thinks the town should consider opting out of government altogether, like Pimlico in the Ealing comedy, or Danzig: "We could be a free port."

Goole's problems are not unique. Reorganisation of many English shires has brought ancient and modern local difficulties to light. Mr Gummer's change from North Yorkshire to North Riding will cost an estimated £1m in new signwriting, plus irritable and confused citizens wondering where their next home help is coming from.

"He's created a North and an East Riding," one Goole man complained. "Riding means one-third. So the Tories have cut Yorkshire by 33 per cent."

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments