Sunday, 27 March 2011

Thanet politics a rant and Sunday a ramble

I have to admit that the recent spat in the local Labour party has produced a state of angry disillusionment in our local politics. Looking at the opinion polls I would say that Labour are in with a chance in the forthcoming elections and frankly I was hoping that Ramsgate being predominately Labour would benefit from this. There are good, responsive and active politicians on both sides of the political divide in Thanet, there are also those whose motives for standing in local government appear to be personal benefit.

Picture note 1, the top two pictures show the second (the only one with two funnels) of the three tugs named Aid that served Ramsgate harbour, the first from 1885 to 1889, the second from 1890 to 1914, and the third from 1914 to 1938.

A Ramsgate tug was kept steamed up at all times and used to tow the lifeboat (rowed no engine) upwind of a potential rescue, often on the shallow Goodwin Sands.



I have just been onto the councils website and after a certain amount of searching found the allowances paid to the councillors in the last 2009 2010 financial year, at this point I had to change computers as it is in a pdf document that won’t even open on this ancient laptop, see http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/Published/StdDataDocs/2/5/1/0/SD00000152/Finalproofofadvert200910.pdf the thing is locked too so you can’t copy figures and calculate using them. All a bit angry making unless you have an expensive IT set-up, so using my expensive IT set-up I unlocked the thing and republished it at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/311/id17.htm You can delve around on the council’s website yourself and depending on how recent and expensive your computer is and what your IT skills are like form your own conclusions, rather like the Hilton Hotel it’s open to everyone.
It does seem however that a councillor could get away with only turning up to four or five meetings and pocketing £4,359.96 I am not sure if this is the amount before or after tax, the council’s website doesn’t seem to say. Cabinet members seem to get well over £200 per week but have to attend more meetings with the leader getting about £500 per week, not perhaps huge sums but something one would probably notice doing without.

Picture note 2 this is the second Queens Head in Ramsgate, before it was demolished and the present one rebuilt in 1921. You will notice that at that time what is now harbour parade was a narrow street, opposite the pub is the back of the harbour trustees committee rooms demolished in 1890.


As far as I am concerned this is all fine and dandy if these people are doing things to improve the local area and if my ward councillors respond to me and the cabinet members respond to me about issues that are their remit. Over the past few years I have written to local councillors who I believe should have replied and received on numerous occasions no reply at all, this reached something of a climax last month when one of the cabinet members asked me not to write to him at all.
This is what he actually said; “In future Michael please put any requests for communication with me through the press office.” Obviously I asked the press office what they thought this could mean and I think they were as mystified as me.
Election As I think everyone knows here in Thanet there is going to be a local election on Thursday 5th May to chose the councillors for Thanet District council and the local parish or town councils, if you want to stand as a candidate you have until noon on 4th April to submit your application. There isn’t a deposit in local elections, so you wouldn’t lose any money if no one actually voted for you, so if you want to stand. The information you need is here http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/guidance/resources-for-those-we-regulate/candidates-and-agents/guidance-for-candidates-and-agents-standing-for-election/standing-for-local-government-elections-in-England More info on the council’s website at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/cllrs_democracy__elections/elections_and_voting.aspx Surprisingly it is fairly difficult to tell what the main parties are standing for in terms of policy, the only people who seem so have set out a manifesto are the council themselves, see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/03/council-priorities-for-next-year.html presumably these are the council’s plans regardless of whoever gets elected. I am assuming at this election the internet will play an even greater part than ever before because more people have internet access, so I had a go at what the two main parties have to say on the internet. SOUTH THANET CONSERVATIVE ASSOCIATION website http://www.stca.org.uk/ NORTH THANET CONSERVATIVE ASSOCIATION http://ntca.org.uk/ SouthThanet Labour Party http://www.souththanetlabour.org.uk/ THANET LABOUR GROUP http://www.btinternet.com/~poole/ As you see things have got a bit out of date here and it’s hard to say which of the two main parties has made more of a mess of promoting themselves on the internet locally, bit of a no score draw there.


I will ramble on as the day progresses and I hope people will comment or email me to correct any mistakes I may have made.
Blogs and stuff Looking on the local internet sites it does look as though Eascliff Richard may be working up to posting again, he has been twittering away in the last few days, see https://twitter.com/eastcliffrichar and seems to be going critical on Facebook see http://www.facebook.com/richard.eastcliff so I would think a blog post seems likely. I suppose this would depend largely of what stopped him from posting on blogger.

Picture note three, the two above are of the buildings that were demolished in 1890, these were on what is now called Harbour Parade opposite the Queens Head.


We have just filled in our census form, which wasn’t too bad as forms go and I am starting on the local blogs on my sidebar. Don has a post that leads you to some old photographs of Thanet that I hadn’t seen before, see http://promotethanet.blogspot.com/2011/03/thanet-street-phography-1960s.html you have to fiddle with the search thing when you get to the site and although this site seems to about selling pictures many of which are not actually copyright, so they don’t appear very large it’s well worth a look. Bignews Margate, see http://bignewsmargate.blogspot.com/ has been mostly about the Labour spat this week, the sad and undemocratic means by which our local council leadership is chosen being at the forefront. I should stress here that doesn’t apply exclusively to the Labour group. After the rigging of the leadership election consultation where the Labour group, the Conservative group and the council’s senior officers conspired together to produce an unsatisfactory result. So ashamed do they appear to be about this consultation that it still doesn’t appear on their consultations webpage at http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation.aspx
Thanet Coast Life has an optimistic post suggesting that Margate Museum may reopen see http://thanetcoastlife.blogspot.com/2011/03/full-steam-ahead-at-margate-museum.html god knows why the council is so slow over anything to do with our heritage, Ramsgate Maritime Museum is still closed, Margate Caves the subject of an andy bit of elf and safety, closed, Ramsgate Tunnels never opened. Ramsgate Motor Museum, owners gave up after lack of support from council, thank god the Powell Cotton museum isn’t council owned.

On to Thanet Life http://birchington.blogspot.com/ the latest post is a bit of a the peasants are revolting and we are shocked one, that could have come out of almost any period in English History http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/03/all-about-twitter-in-town.html No separation between the 250,000 peaceful demonstrators, and the handful of rowdy trouble makers, that probably were not government employees, but taking advantage of the situation, perhaps that’s what blue-tinted means. Historically interesting a post mentioning The Battle of Margate see http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/03/politics-aside.html not quite sure what this is about but think it is the thing Froissart mentions when English vessels carrying knights commanded by the Earl of Arundel captured part of the Flemish-Castillian convoy and made off with a quantity of wine and other goods. At this time the vessels involved would probably have been fortified at each end, high castellated decks, single mast with a square sail and oars in the middle, the battle would have been fought with archers and swords, with probably the main factor being what the sea did. There was no navy as such, the knights and their men at arms would have fought using the vessels and crews available, the plunder being a major incentive.


Onto Ken Read and In 2 Thanet or Inthanet blog see http://in2thanet.blogspot.com/ it would seem some people are intending to stand as independent candidates in the May elections, Ken is a bit cagey about where or how many, but I think he means in the district council elections, either as well as or instead of the parish town council elections. This has been tried in Thanet before without much success, the usual successful method being to pretend to be either Conservative or Labour to at least stand some chance of getting elected. Perhaps if enough independents stood across the whole of Thanet and pooled their publicity they would have some chance. Having said that if Ken stands in my ward I will definitely be voting for him as I will for Dave Green if he stands again, this has nothing whatsoever with party politics, but a great deal to do with people who have local interests at heart. I would say however that the most cost effective thing that any independent politically motivated group could do is to organise a mayoral referendum petition, they only have to get the signatures of 5% of the electorate to change the face of Thanet politics forever that way.


My Thanet Press Release bog see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/ seems to be attracting a bit more traffic and even some comment, I think I will have to give it a bit of a makeover. This is where is publish stuff sent to me by other people, do feel free to use this facility, put please if you email MichaelChild@aol.com me posts, keep it to a few images and some text. I really don’t have the time to convert things that can’t just be inserted into blogger like pdf files. I was particularly pleased to get the associated photographs for one of the council’s press releases see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/03/team-greens-big-margate-clean.html as far as I can see these usually just vanish somewhere in the great council machine. The council don’t seem to realise what an important historical record they are concealing, we pay for them and they hide them, I have mentioned to them before if they send me the whole lot on a few disks I would be hapy to put them online for nothing.

10 comments:

  1. Your councillor's figures are correct, it's tax free too which means that Kay Dark, the labour councillor for Northwood is getting nearly £500 per council meeting she attends since she doesn't do much else as a councillor!

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  2. No anon those figures are before tax and NI is taken off.My councillors allowance is approx. 173 per month after tax and NI. I think of it. As being nearly enough to pay the council tax!

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  3. Thanks for the clarification Chris, please let me make it clear that there is no way that I am suggesting that active and responsive councillors like yourself are in any way over paid in terms of allowances.

    Personally I think one better paid councillor per ward with properly funded administrative support to deal with individuals problems would be better.

    Trading as I am in a place that now looks as though it is suffering from the aftermath of some sort of conflict, it would be very useful to have some individual to sort it out.

    Being told that the blocked drains, broken pavements, disintegrating road surface, rubbish, mass imports of dhss and dog, drunken mobs, broken takeaway licensing etc are someone else’s problem, needs submitting to a different government department or whatever is most tiresome.

    There was a time you know when local government sought to make their towns pleasant to live in, this has degenerated to a point where I am loathe to go out of my own front door at night and I assure you I am not shy retiring sort of person.

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  4. Thank you for your vote of confidence Michael, unfortunstely it will not be Eastcliff ward where I am standing.

    I know many independents including myself agree with you that David and Elizabeth Green should be supported, their work for Ramsgate is highly commendable. Many party politicians do work for the good of the community but the present system seems to sideline them.

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  5. Councillors who take the money and run should be named and shamed.

    Some councillors attend the council meetings but do nothing else.

    Some councillors don't have the 100% council meeting attendance badge due to main job commitments but do work hard in their wards.

    We don't want lazy councillors representing us. We don't want self-serving corrupt councillors either We want decent, hardworking councillors whom we can respect and trust to have our best interests at heart.
    Sadly we have seen there are very few of those in the local Labour party and those that remain are too brow beaten to stand up and be counted. Its very sad.

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  6. Anon 22.45 must have a short or selective memory, have they forgotten the tory councillor living in Pananma and still colllecting his allowance. He was even signed in to meetings thanks to what looked like a very slack or crooked procedure.

    The allowance for individual councillors is not excessive provided they pull their weight but with 56 councillors at a cost of over £300,000 are residents as a whole getting value for money? It does not look like it.
    Only a handfull take part in the decision making and the rest are there just to nod when told to nod.

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  7. 56 councillors = 1 senior officers golden handshake. I know which I would prefer.Good community orientated councillors

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  8. Looking at the problem we have and assuming that with both Labour and the Conservatives fielding 56 candidates some of these will not make good councillors, can anyone think of any solution?

    I think the problem stems from party politics not really being suited to local government, which means that for the most part the vote is separated thus:

    Those who always vote for the same party, regardless of how bad the candidate is.

    Those who are floating voters and are registering a protest, either trying to vote out the current administration because of something that occurred in the last eight years, that they didn’t like, or are disenchanted with the national government.

    Those who are floating voters and who vote for the individual councillors who they think are likely to be communicative and try to improve the situation in their wards.

    I surmise in this that those who are standing as independents are hoping to hold the balance of power, perhaps this would be the best solution, I don’t really know.

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  9. Clearly it is entirely up to the respective political parties to choose their candidates and, as we have seen with the Nottingham/Dark issue, that is not always easy.

    I have always thought it a shame that politics was brought into local governance for, without it, we might get a better chance to select our councillors on merit rather than label. Unfortunately, that is not going to change now.

    The only way, therefore, to influence the standard of candidate is to join a party and have your say. Too frequently a small minority of card carrying members make the selection and then expect the party faithful to vote for them.

    Independents, unless fighting on specific high profile local issues, are seldom successful, however good they may be, because of party machinery and loyalties.
    Sad but fact!

    Locally, with a good, hard working South Thanet MP now, there is perhaps merit in keeping council and MP of the same political persuassion for co-operation purposes. Nonetheless it would still be good to see a few changes, hopefully of retaining the best and dropping the deadwood. Which is which is a matter of choice.

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  10. Best option would be to vote for hardworking councillors regardless of political colour, but until there is more transparency and each party stops covering up for the lazy and ineffective councillors it will remain hard to tell who's worth their salt and who's not.

    If we are naming and shaming then John Kirby, Dave Green, Liz Green, Chris Wells, Joanna Gideon, Harry Scobie and John Watkins would get my votes. All good solid councillors and various colours politically with word of mouth reputations built over the years.

    Clive Hart, Sandy Ezekiel, Roger Latchford, Mike Harrison and Kay Dark would not get my vote. Character is important too and these ones just don't seem genuine.

    It is hard for the average person in the street to know whether the councillor standing in their ward is really any good or not. The promises on the election literature means nothing. I've seen all the stuff about Kay Dark but no doubt her election publicity will go on about her working hard and continuing to work closely with her Ward. Past performance shows that's rubbish but its the sort of rot they churn out for election campaigns.

    Reputation is important. I am sure there are a few other good councillors but I don't know enough about them to say Yay or Nay Comes back to how do you find out the truth about the wannabe councillors standing for election?

    ReplyDelete

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