Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday Ramble Party Time For Margate and so on

Very much a lazy Sunday today, I got up late and had a rather bleary look at the other local blogs over breakfast at lunchtime.

There is a little mild sparring going on between Tony Bignews and Simon Moores, I guess they would both rather be sparring with ECR, but is seems reading Simon’s latest post http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/01/passing-trade.html that his capitalist friends have consigned ECR to a concrete overcoat.

This post for the most part seems to relate to last weeks council meeting, although what neither Simon, the council’s press release, or the Labour Group’s press release does is tell us what the redundancies mean, both in terms of the cost of the golden handshakes or what is happening to rest of the senior council officers.

Simon in true politician style evaded the question about this in my comment.

I am not trying to get at Simon here who is the most communicative of the TDC Cabinet, but the truth is that whether the ruling Tory group are doing a good job or a bad one is almost impossible to say because their publicity is so bad.

With the elections coming one would have expected them to at pains to tell us what they are doing in simple layman’s terms.

The minutes of the council meeting before that one took over a month to appear on the council’s website and only appeared just as the webcast of the meeting was being removed.

Tony Bignews has a post about local planning see http://bignewsmargate.blogspot.com/2011/01/thanet-planning-calamity.html further complicated as Tony has decided to put most of it on his other blog http://outsideturner.blogspot.com/2011/01/bleeping-bush-blighted.html anyway this tangled thread relates partly to the new localism bill, something that I think is intended to give more power back to local people, but seems to be giving more power to local government. Now this is all fine and dandy if local government intends to represent the views of local people, but after the leadership consultation fiasco it seems our local cabinet is more concerned about maintaining its own power base.

Another serious point in all of this is about the fragmentation of the ground floor shop areas of our town centres, something that I am suffering from the sharp end of.

The problem being is that once the areas that had shops, galleries and cafés on the ground floor is broken up with residential development on the ground floors, then there is less for people to go to there, so footfall decreases and the trade of the remaining business decreases. This used to be mitigated by people not wanting to live on the ground floor in the town centres due to the noise, but housing benefit means that some sort of residential tenant can always be found, regardless of how unpleasant it is to live there.

A new post on Ken’s new blog see http://in2thanet.blogspot.com/2011/01/open-for-business-closed-to-tourists.html still with the TDC and two problems here. One can be summed up as what is TDC? Thanet District Council, Thanet Council or Margate Council. And the other even if the council is putting most of its resources into Margate at the moment, would Margate be better off if the council left them alone, like they most seem to leave Ramsgate alone now.

Margate Architecture’s post on an estate agent’s view of Margate has to be seen to be believed, see http://margatearchitecture.blogspot.com/2011/01/talking-of-moving-to-margate-kallis.html

Thanet Star seems to have a technical problem at the moment so I can’t look there.

I was talking to a Scottish engineer who was staying in Ramsgate for a few days to conduct some business last week and he asked me some pretty difficult questions.

One being, what’s wrong with Thanet, why isn’t it prosperous? He had obviously seen that Ramsgate has a fantastic harbour, but being an engineer he could also see it was badly silted up. Fantastic architecture, much of which is badly converted to HMOs. Was there something wrong with local government? He asked. Why did local people seem so apathetic about what had happened to their area?

He also asked me some difficult questions about local business. Did Pfizer, Thanet Earth and so on help the local economy? Did China Gateway look as though it was a viable proposition and would it help the local economy?

Frankly what I had to say to this man, looking at my patch from the outside, was much more defensive than positively encouraging, in fact I found myself handing out the excuses that have been handed out to me.

He had just used the air service from Scotland to Manston and commented on the bizarre timings for anyone wanting to business in either place from the other and I have to say I wondered if many people would.

Two of my girls are Brownies and are engaged in a bedroom design project related to this organisation using the best free cut up and stick in resource, the Argos catalogue.

Something they both noticed however is how incredibly sexist it is, many of the things that they really liked, Formula 1 bedspreads, curtains with stars on were marked as for boys.

One of the things I do, that I hope is particularly beneficial to the local area, is my local history publications and one aspect of this is promoting them on the internet.

The idea being that I makes it easy for people to get started on our rich local history, an aspect of this is selling the books through an ebay shop, I mainly do this because I think a lot of people when thinking about Thanet history would only look on ebay.

If you are thinking of buying any of them online it is cheaper if you go directly to the bookshop website at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/ where the postage is free.

Anyway I have just been looking at the figures for this ebay shop for last year, I should stress here that they don’t worry me as I am not looking for profit in my local history project and very much see it as something I do for the local community.

Here they are Total money received from my ebay shop £973.88, postage costs £187.15, Ebay fees £417.51, Paypal fees £76.54.

It certainly gives you some idea as to how big companies cash in on the internet.
I will probably ramble on.

6 comments:

  1. Michael
    The council' communications are quite separate from any political party news and the former publishes press releases newsletters and even uses Twitter pretty extensively.

    The Conservative group unlike Labour, aren't much into propoganda and if we were I suspect we would receive the criticism and cynicism that goes with it

    As for the elected Mayor issue, it was properly discharged as directed by central Government given the imminent arrival of he localism bill. Personally! I doubt that many people in Thanet were that interested anyway, given he present economic circumstances

    ReplyDelete
  2. Michael, I think you need to re-visit your posted figures or complain to Ebay about over-charging of fees.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michael, its obvious that you know the difference between the council's publicity and the cabinet's and its a bit trite for the Dr to tell you this but then thats his style. He admits that the conservative group does not do propoganda so how is the public to know what their aims are and how they see Thanet developing. It shows all the signs of a secret society but I guess with an election due they will soon change their tune and start issuing propoganda like all parties. But as the Dr says the public may treat his party's output with cynicism.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Simon with the reporting of things like council meetings, the problem for me and I suspect many others, is the lack of a concise comprehensible résumé of what thy were about and what they achieved.

    Minutes published over a month after the event, illegible documents, etc don’t really suffice, you have mentioned yourself the council’s propensity to shower councillors with masses of information so that it is very difficult to find the important and relevant information.

    With a press department and an information department it shouldn’t be difficult to publish a realistic account of the most important democratic part of the council, the actual council meetings. Nor should it become very long before this becomes a trusted source of information.

    From a point of view of the Conservative group in Thanet, at the moment the lack of online information is so extreme that it really seems impossible to ascertain their objectives, or even tell if they are Conservative objectives or just those of a mixed group carrying out some sort of agenda of their own, masquerading under the Conservative banner, unless of course you can point me to somewhere that describes what they are about.

    On to what I consider the more important issue. It has been my contention that the consultation was both rigged and outside or the law of the land, and that because of this the council is no longer a valid and legal organisation and that the results of the May elections will be rigged, because the consultation on which part of the result is based was rigged.

    Pretty explosive stuff in a democracy and I am the first to concede that I may be wrong.

    In a series of emails that started when I discovered the consultation and while the consultation was in progress, I pointed out my concerns to the officer running the consultation.

    He decided that he wasn’t able to answer the questions I had asked and forwarded my concerns to the chief executive, who also wasn’t able to answer me, I think mainly because this involved legal issues, so he forwarded my concerns to council’s head of legal and democratic services.

    I didn’t get any response within the statuary 10 days and after a series of emails and promises from his pa I telephoned him, after several attempts I was eventually put through to him.

    I had a detailed conversation with him and he was confirmed my assertions that their were potential irregularities that were unresolved, he also concurred with me that if I pursued the issue, within my legal rights as a member of the electorate, it would be very expensive for the council so I decided not to go down this road.

    The main thing he did however promise to do was to reply in writing and by email to the questions I had raised.

    At the moment now a considerable time after these promises were made I still haven’t received any reply from him, would you like to take up this issue on my behalf as a member of the cabinet?

    Do understand here that this isn’t about the result of the consultation, or the result of the extraordinary meeting of the council, but is about my concerns that the council didn’t behave within the rules that govern the democratic process.

    There is a question here for you and that is, do you think that the council should operate within the democratic rules of our democracy and democracies in the rest of the world, or do you think that the council should be above these rules if they think that implementing them may produce a result that they don’t like?

    Readit I will check.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 19.25 sorry Top Gear and children intervened but our comments crossed over, and yes, I notice you like me are having problems understanding what the local Conservatives have a s plan.

    Frankly I am not offering the local Labour group as a credible alternative either.

    But outside of some sensible developments, there have been several completely potty ones, like the Pleasurama one in Ramsgate that they seem to have supported throughout their administration, they even voted against the recommendations of the officer who is to become our new chief executive, when she recommended that they pull out of it.

    Also it is very hard to see where they stand on the economic growth issue in Thanet, for the last week I have been looking at the viability of our airport and one thing seems certain, they don’t – even with Simon on their team who is an aviation expert – seem to have a realistic approach to is limitations and potential.

    In Ramsgate the thing that I find most noticeable is the way the vacant council property has been managed during the Conservative administrations, I suppose this is because I walk past the main properties nearly every day. They don’t seem to have got a proper grip on getting a return out of the council’s assets, which suggests to me that the officers are running over them rough shod.

    It is the problem with local government that one looks at their achievements local to where one lives and during a long period of local Conservative government the area where I live has become close to uninhabitable.

    Of course some of the blame for this falls to the county administration also Conservative and some of it to the previous Labour government, but now with Conservatives at all levels of government there is no sign of improvement.

    I would say a basic criteria for living in a civilisation is being able to be comfortable about waling outside of ones own front door, this used to be called keeping the peace.

    Now much of the time I find I can hear people outside yelling obscenities, threatening each other and periodically engaging in violence towards property and each other and I know that Simon now feels uncomfortable taking his dog for a walk in Westgate which is after all a fairly smart village.

    This isn’t about statistics this about feeling comfortable walking through our towns in the evenings, particularly at weekends, something any of our councillors can try any time they like.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was going to leave the debate over the recent non-consultation well alone for a while but Simon's PC intervention above has prompted me to rejoin the debate.
    First of all I direct you to the following link in the Independent;

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/yasmin-alibhai-brown/yasmin-alibhaibrown-it-takes-an-outsider-to-see-just-how-rotten-this-state-can-be-2192506.html

    Simon. If we had still had a Labour Government and TDC had received a communication from their equivalent of Mr Pickles Department, would you all have rolled over quite so sheepishly? I think not. The whole thing was done to maintain the local ring of power, with smokescreens about the additional cost (what additional cost - a second ballot paper on a day when there is already one election and one referendum?)and how unnecessaruy it all was. And as I have already proved, the consultation was not even published for the legally required length of time.

    ReplyDelete

Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.