Monday, 30 January 2012

What do you do when Thanet District Council wastes our money on internet resources that don’t work properly?

I have had a reply to my complaint to the council about their various events websites, they don’t seem to want to sort the issue out, so I am now going down the road that wastes everyone’s time including their own and will probably eventually lead to The Local Government Ombudsman.

The correspondence is below and if anyone has any better ideas, please put them in the blog comments. 



Here is my initial complaint


 This complaint relates to the council’s events sites and results from my trying to get information about the New Year fireworks events in Thanet.

From Christmas 2011 until New Years day I tried to find information about New Years events using the councils three information websites and I have tried subsequently to use these websites to find information about what’s on in the three main Thanet towns in January.

None of the three council events websites mentioned either the fireworks event in Ramsgate that did take place or the cancellation of the one in Broadstairs and event coverage on all three sites for January is very poor.

Warming Words has no events listed for January see http://www.warmingwords.org.uk/january.aspx

Thanet District Council Community Information Portal has one event listed for January, see http://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/home/

Visit Thanet while slightly better than the others shows only on event for Ramsgate for the whole of January comparing this with the amount of events listed in the local papers local papers, it seems that something has gone radically wrong with the way the council tourist information is ensuring that local events appear on the internet.

Below is one days listings of events from one local paper.

Saturday January 7

Bradstow Mill, Broadstairs, JEDWOOD

Port and Anchor, Ramsgate, EYELASH GUILT

Britannia, Margate, BARKIN’ MAD

Wrotham Arms, Broadstairs, STEVE MORRISON

Birchington United Services Club, Station Road, Birchington, OUTCOME

Margate Museum, Old Town Hall, Market Place, Margate, A GEORGIAN CHRISTMAS, 11am-5pm

Ramsgate Sports Centre, ROLLER DISCO, family session from 6-7.30pm, 8 years and upwards from 8-9.30pm

Club Caprice, Cliff Terrace, Cliftonville, DJ MASTER G, 8pm until late, chart, R & B etc

Harbour Street Bar, Ramsgate, KARAOKE

Revolution Skate Park, Dane Valley Road, St Peters, BEGINNERS CLIMBING CLUB, 5-6.30pm, 01843 866707/866706

Staffordshire Street Car Park, Ramsgate, MARKET

The Albert, Ramsgate, DISCO WITH DJ BLACK ICE, 8pm until late

The Pride of Ramsgate, Turner Street, GAY NIGHT CLUB, 10pm-3am

TDCCOM1860 ref supplied 10.01.2012
Best regards Michael
 Their response


In a message dated 25/01/2012 08:22:36 GMT Standard Time, *******@Thanet.gov.uk writes:
Dear Mr Child

Customer Feedback Reference:33343/1962152
Regarding Firework displays over the Christmas and New Year period.

Thank you for your recent communication which was received on 11/01/2012.

The council’s main website, www.thanet.gov.uk offers community groups and event organisers the facility to publish information about events, and these websites rely on this information being generated and published.

The warming words website is a literacy project and only features literacy based events. However, events have not been updated for January as there have been no events organised.

Unfortunately, the Council and Visit Thanet were not informed about the fireworks event in Ramsgate which took place and this is why this event wasn’t published on our websites.

The fireworks event in Broadstairs was not published because the decision to cancel the event was taken over the Christmas period and the council’s offices were closed.

We hope that this resolves the matter to your satisfaction.

If you are not happy with our response, you may write to us with your reasons within the next ten working days, requesting a further review. 

In order for us to respond as efficiently as possible, please ensure that you quote the above reference number and address your communication to Amanda Buckingham - Customer Feedback Co-ordinator, Business Services.

Yours sincerely

**** ***
Corporate Information and Improvement Manager


My reply to their response.

******, */****, I am requesting further review on this one.

At the moment we have three events information websites, all of which are using our limited council resources and none of them appear to be performing properly.

What I am trying to get you to do is to sort this issue out not excuse it, hopefully with one functional events website which shows the events that the various Thanet tourist information offices know about and the events that are sent to the council for inclusion, automatically or manually.

For the council’s main website homepage to be promoting only one church quiz in February one in March, a church tour in February and a gang show in March, as it is at the moment, is preposterous.     

I should point out here that a major exhibition of international significance, Turner and the Elements, opened in Margate this weekend.

To say that there are no literary events in January to put on the Warming Words website is equally preposterous, an example would be the Lemn Sissay Poetry Projection, this involves poetry about fifty feet high being projected onto the building immediately opposite the tourist information office.

The failure to promote or to make any notification of the cancellation of the fireworks events also seems to be inexcusable, these are both significant annual events with council notification being mandatory. Unless of course you are saying that the Ramsgate event was held on council property without the council being notified.

In these times of public cuts I find it wholly unacceptable that the council should waste their limited funds on three separate events sites, none of which function properly in representing the events, that the tourist information officers are aware of, on the internet.     

Best regards Michael

9 comments:

  1. I agree Michael. Whilst not everyone is on the web, it is a platform that can be used to much greater effect by TDC. The local press is accessed haphazardly. Listings in publications such as the Guide in the Guardian helps. I suggest, as I have already done to Ramsgate Town Council, setting up a web portal such as Herne Bay matters, which is excellent at communicating to it's readership and residents.http://www.hernebaymatters.com/

    The council and councillors should serve their community and good communications is part of a successful relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe you should've also mentioned the TDC webcasts Michael?

    ReplyDelete
  3. 12.42 it’s a useful website, but I think the council operate under various restrictions so probably wouldn’t be able to go down that road.

    The events websites are something that they have got, are paid for out public funds and need to be made viable, so that an ordinary person can use the internet to find out what is on.

    1.20 I have but am treating as a separate issue, I expect the will mark me as a vexatious complainant next

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's somewhat ironic that when there have been recent arguments over proposals to cut the Council's events budget due to budget constraints that it appears that the Council seems to have funds to operate three events type websites. None of which seem satisfactory.

    This apparent duplication presumably incurs multiple web hosting fees etc. plus additional staff time in updating the various sites for the same events and setting up web pages etc. Also do event organisers need to inform each website administrator of their events?

    A literacy events website is very worthy but why set up a separate website and not just have a section on one all encompassing events website or a way of filtering literacy events? If you followed the literacy event website logic why don't they have a theatrical website, an arts events website, a music event website, a sport event website etc etc?

    Why can't they set up one fit for purpose events website and save public money, staff time working on the websites and users time looking for events?

    Good luck with progressing this matter with the Council as I'm sure there would be a lot of public support for your view and I can't understand why the Council would not want to improve matters along the lines you suggest as it seems common sense.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Ramsgate Harbourmaster issued a Notice To Mariners on 13th December about the New Years Eve fireworks taking place at Ramsgate harbour. Shows how much notice the powers-that-be at Margate take of whats happening in the area.

    ReplyDelete
  6. As the Council operate the Port, wouldn't the Harbourmaster work for the Council anyway?

    If so, the reply saying the Council were not informed about the fireworks event in Ramsgate which took place seems odd as if the Harbourmaster issued the notice as alleged in the earlier post it would seem someone at the Council was at least aware. (Assuming the anonymous notice comment is correct and the Harbourmaster works for the Council).

    Maybe it's a play on words and rather than being informed it's a case of becoming aware of it from advertising or a similar way

    I still find it hard to believe that the Council were not informed about the Ramsgate fireworks as I would have thought that there would have been some sort of health and safety issues etc which needed Council input.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The last thing you need (with any event) is to allow the Council to give Health and Safety input. In many cases, the people-organising the event are better placed and better qualified to assess and control the risks than anybody working for the Council.

    These days, everyone and his dog thinks they should be scrutinising plans and giving their expert view about Health and Safety. So many things never see the light of day because busybodies get involved and invent hazards that do not (in reality) exist. Invariably, they fail to identify real hazards which subsequently lead to tragedy.

    I have a simple solution. If you want to be involved and have input regarding the Health and Safety of an event you should (personally) share legal liability with the organisers.

    ReplyDelete
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