Monday, 29 November 2010

Thanet District Council Leader, consultation or chaos?

Over the next fortnight the council are asking you about how you want to select a leader of the council.

Do you want to vote for a leader when you vote for the councillors, or do you want the councillors to chose their own leader instead?

At the moment our national government seems to be supporting much more local consultation, I am pretty sure that they are sincere in this intention.

In this instance I take the national government to be the MPs who are part of the coalition supported by the government civil servants, represented by the cabinet and prime minister.

Locally things appear to be at odds with this, the council seems to be against local consultation.

In a way this depends on what you call the council or even what councillors and council officers mean by the word council.

If you take this to be the majority Conservative group, supported by the council officers, represented by the cabinet and council leader, then all is not well when it comes to public consultation.

To quote Bob Bayford the leader of Thanet District Council:

“This new government has promised to cut down on public consultation, decisions should be left to elected members because that is what we have been elected for, there is far too much of this consultation going on”.

I did email Bob to check that he wasn’t misquoted or quoted out of context there, click on the link for the email http://www.thanetonline.com/1110/id5.htm

He didn’t reply, I don’t know is this was because he approved his comments, is just plain rude or is a computer illiterate, so until I hear to the contrary I can only assume that this is the view of the council.

By the council in this instance I mean the officers and councillors collectively.

Back to the consultation about how the leader is selected, I posted about this last week see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-style-of-leadership-forced-on.html now I am particularly worried about how this consultation is being run, more so now in the light of the leaders comments on public consultation.

I have emailed the council’s democratic services about this see http://www.thanetonline.com/1110/id6.htm

9 comments:

  1. Excellently put, However the chances of this happening seem slim at best.

    Never before have we had such a group of misguided and wholly ineffective shiny suits all following the one in front like the preverbial lemmings.
    Has there ever been a decision made by this council that has felt like it had sound thought and reason behind it, where it was a good decision for Thanet as a whole, the answer is NO. Self obsessed, blinded by ego and self worth, what a shameful bunch our council truly are !!

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  2. I find it strange that councillors give their email addresses on the website yet never reply to questions put to them that way. I must say that Simon is an exception to the above. As for consultation TDC seems to believe it is a dirty word.

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  3. TDC councillors and officers (senior) did not want a Ramsgate town council, I am sure they would not like their " customers" to vote for the leader. We might vote for one of the few who actually cares about thanet.

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  4. "Consultation" is utterly pointless if Councillors are going to vote according to their own views and not pay heed to what the public says.

    In this respect, party politics is the thing which is damaging/destroying local democracy. Councillors are whipped to vote this way or that rather than allowing them to form their own views, influenced by public opinion.

    I think political parties whould not be allowed to put up candidates for local Council elections. Every candidate should be independent.

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  5. Two thoughts really (Maybe three!)

    1. TDC Constitution Leader is already elected by Full Council. (though in effect this means the nomination of the majority group)
    2. The Council has already decided to recommend this option rather than the elected Mayor.
    3. I dont think the three towns are ready to accept an elected Mayor as representing all of Thanet. Town identity is too strong.

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  6. I agree with Anonymous at 20.09. Candidates should stand as individuals not as party puppets.

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  7. You may not get a puppet but you may recall that in 2002 H'Angus the Monkey was elected mayor of Hartlepool (£53k p.a.)! The monkey being the mascot of the town's football team.
    The mascot's vote-winning slogan was "free bananas for school children".
    Is politics taken seriouly in Thanet or could a raving loonie win?

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  8. Hartlepool mayor ps.
    In 2009 the Monkey was relected to a third term so just an 'ordinary bloke' seems to be able to a good job as the council leader without the need to belong to a party.

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  9. A few thoughts here before I consider today’s post that will be about the pavilion.

    I think it is important here to consider the main point of the post, which is about public consultation and the council’s attitude towards it.

    What I don’t seem to be able to find is any message coming from the council that the views of local people should be considered, let alone acted upon.

    Theoretically we live in a democracy, however in practice with the present system in Thanet there are only two choices to be made, and made by the limited number of people who live in wards where the outcome isn’t a forgone conclusion.

    One is the Labour group running the show and the other is the Conservative group running the show, for the most part, in the past, we have got a result that seems to be based on what the government is doing nationally.

    I am not saying that changing to the elected leader would be an improvement, it has worked in some places and not in others.

    I would say that the main problem with the present system is that the leader has no incentive to improve things in those wards where the outcome of the election is a forgone conclusion.

    I think calling the elected leader a mayor is unfortunate, as having an elected mayor wouldn’t effect the position with regards to the existing towns mayors.

    I does seem that the councillors prefer the somewhat cosy situation that they have at the moment. By this I mean we have the two opposing political groups who seem to spend most of the time having digs at one another rather than considering working together to solve some of the very real problems in Thanet.

    In general I support the idea of a leader elected by the people of Thanet, but not at any price, so I am waiting for my reply from the council’s democratic services, that should tell me if electing a leader will really be more expensive than having one imposed upon us.

    As far as the existing leader goes I am at a loss to understand why he hasn’t replied to me, perhaps he doesn’t understand that about 600 people a day read this blog, snubbing me is of little importance but subbing them I am not so sure about.

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