Friday, 27 April 2012

Thanet and the politics of the banana skin. A message for Councillor Chris Wells, said with flowers.


With the previous blog post and a few attempts at watching the councils webcast, I am coming to the conclusion that our local politics can be likened to a group of people in a large room with a shiny floor dropping banana skins, in the hope that others will trip over them.

Added to this is the surrounding publicity, saying that others have already tripped over a banana skin, regardless of whether they have or haven’t.

In fact so entrenched has this kind of thing become in some of our local politicians that I don’t think they can even consider moving into a situation where anything else is actually achieved. Common sense, previous education has all been replaced by watching for the banana skins and dropping them on the ground.

Council officers seem for the most part to fall into three categories, those involved with essential services, rubbish, parks, dogs mess and so on – those involved with government directives that no one understands and those handing out banana skins to councillors.

The difficulty with banana skins is they are not concerned about who they trip up, anyone will do, so having dropped a banana skin any councillor can fall over it including the councillor who dropped it.

Councillors can be split into two basic types those who stand very still to avoid slipping over and are just boring, and those who rush around dropping banana skins and falling over.

There are also some councillors and offices often new or young but not always picking up banana skins, these are often mistaken as droppers of banana skins by the rest, probably because they are often trying to get to the bin with a handful of banana skins.

As a blogger when it comes to engaging with the council, my main task is to try and pick up some of the banana skins, and I think for the most part councillors seem to think I am the biggest dropper of banana skins of all the bloggers.

I had one of these run-ins with Chris Wells and to a lesser extent Simon Moores on the blogs this week.

The banana skins in question related to financing The Royal Sands, Running Ramsgate Maritime Museum, parking in Thanet.
This all started on a post on Simon Moors blog see http://birchington.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/topsy-turvy-local-politics.html anyway Chris dropped the old banana skin, which is pay local councillors less, this obviously goes down the road of paying peanuts and getting monkeys.

This is what he said

“Chris Wells said...
If the Labour in Thanet believe that Will Scobie is their best choice to be Mayor so be it.

I think his supported pitch to increase councillors allowances by 3.5%, which you will all be able to view on webcast soon is rather more pertinent to his political nouse.

Then, as now he has the undoubted support of Ian Driver, (one of the TIGgywinkles) which may be another question over Will's political nouse!

Good luck to him. Iris will be a very hard act to follow. She has been a hard working Mayor, as have others in the past, and as far as I can judge done an excellent job.

I suspect he may find it a little more boring than he expects - but then as the TDC website still shows Mick Tomlinson as Mayor of Margate, it may be sometime before we notice Will is even in post!
8:33 AM”
anyway I replied to this:

Michael Child said...
Chris I think there is a bit of a problem over this allowances business and the whole business of council tax. I have my doubts that the few people locally who would take enough interest to understand what this would actually mean on the council tax bill resent paying.

You may need reminding that the people of Ramsgate voted, not all that long ago to have a town council, i.e. pay more for hopefully getting more out of local government.

Without being unkind here, some sort of plan for the current issues would be helpful, I know there isn’t much the Conservatives would do the Labour wouldn’t at district level, as most of it is unavoidable. Sweeping the streets, removing the rubbish, tending the parks. But there are issues local where a bit more than the old rhetoric wouldn’t go amiss. In Ramsgate there is Pleasurama under consideration at the moment, the maritime museum about to reopen but inevitably surrounded by the new events notice timing which could be a bit of a dampener this summer for any events they want to hold, there are probably other things here where the council has some power and when it comes to Margate, Broadstairs and the villages I am out of touch. I know Thanet Earth has just put in a new planning application, although I didn’t really understand its implications if any. You surely must have something to say about local issues, other than what is wrong with anything proposed by Labour.
1:22 PM 

Simon decided not to publish this comment as I think he construed it as me dropping banana skins, although eventually he did publish it. A post with a lot of comment on is a difficult thing to control, especially if you have a life to live as well.

In the meantime I published it here on a post a couple of days ago http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/its-about-five-months-since-johnworrow.html
 Chris replied to it there:

“Chris WellsApr 24, 2012 03:59 PM
BSc (Hons) Economics and International Relations - LSE, as such things seem important to you Michael. I have never used the description other than on a CV or application form; tho given its reputation I do mention LSE from time to time.

As for the rest of your twisted morass of confused thinking: I have always said much on Pleasurama in debate in Council, and in the confidential discussions in Cabinet, which I presume no one regales to you as they are confidential. Until the last day or so there was little that could be publicly said about the Maritime Museum either, because Clive Hart treated it as an urgent decision in private, moving forward without scrutiny. Now at least some of the documents are publicly available we can all reach a judgement on the righteousness of the deal. The reason for delay until now was connected with the negotiations and how much the council was willing to cede to the new trust. Only now can what has been ceded be properly costed.

I notice you are silent on the political inequity of parking fees, and the effective use of parking fee income - and lack of income - in assuring votes for the minority labour administration from the Tiggywinkles. Dare I suggest you actually watch the debates on webcast when they come out; and see if you notice the Labour groups various attempts to stifle and silence debate? Or Clive Harts incredible statement that the new parking policy is 'fairer': £16680 free parking for Ramsgate; £24250 free parking for Birchington; around £1600 for Northdown Road; and £1100 for Broadstairs (under the Labour proposal, no one yet costed the change to Vere Road won through amendment).

There were members of the public at the meeting on thursday who were shocked by the bear pit brawling and background hubbub of the occasion; the threats to Labour members who voted for a Conservative amendment; and the constant barracking which does not come across on webcast. They were sitting very close to the Tiggywinkles and observed Councillor Worrow's behaviour throughout the evening. Modesty forbids me repeating their description in public.

As an observer Michael you consistently fail miserably to hide your bias; which is less political than simply whether or not councillors court your views, and visit your shop for fireside chats and advice. I have my own sages thank you; and have always preferred over the years the services of the Albion Bookshops, including their second hand offerings - having personally bought the Crossman Diaries and other political works of interest there. i miss the shops terribly, and read far less now, sadly.

I doubt you will consider this a proper response to your query, but given your self proclaimed brilliance you must also realise your 'questions' are rarely balanced and always political with a small p.

No doubt you will shortly be telling us that you once spent two years as a parking attendant so know all about the subject; your acclaimed expertise in all things must make you as ancient as Methusala, though clearly wonderfully preserved. And no, I am not drunk, having been a teetotaller for more than 25 years; unlike some who comment under various names late evening on the blogs.

In spite of all of this, I defend your right of free speech; criticise all you like. Just do us all the simple favour of admitting you do not always know what is going on; and certainly don't have a foolproof manner of vetting your sources and suggestions for truth.”

Still trying to pick up the various local banana skins I replied to him, in chunks.

“Michael ChildApr 25, 2012 03:08 AM
Chris thanks for responding, I appreciate your time and would genuinely like to know what your views are on the subjects you mention.

There is a lot for me to respond to and because my comment was on another blog much is off the subject here, I appreciate now that your field of expertise is economics and law, so I won’t bother you with anything related to engineering or safety issues.

I will start at the top of your comment with Pleasurama and if I get a chance later in the day try to deal with the others some of which I have very little understanding.

Humour me for a moment and if you wouldn’t mind responding to a few thoughts of mine as though the cabinet meeting three years ago and the meetings in this time frame were not as, it where, a total fog to me it would be helpful.

Why did the Conservative cabinet three years ago, decide to against officers advice and not determine the development on financial grounds?

Do you think the sale of the site freehold to be subject to the asset disposal process as it is council’s intention that the leases be surrendered and the development agreement be revoked prior to the completion of a new development agreement and freehold land transfer?

Do you reckon it would be possible to obtain borrowing based on the security of new build residential dwellings, on land that is designated as high risk flood zone by The Environment Agency without a flood risk assessment, when prospective buyers attempt to obtain mortgages to buy apartments and the monies obtained from the sale of apartments is required for further funding of the development?

Chris on to the maritime museum, obviously the deal has been struck here and it appears that from what you say it wouldn’t have been struck by a Conservative administration for this year, so the museum would have remained closed, the dry dock needing attention, the tug needing new plates and the historic vessels expelled from the heritage pontoon.

Are you saying that this is a bad deal and the Conservatives would have struck a better deal given more time? Or are you saying it was never the Conservatives intention strike a deal, and that the intention was not to support this project?

Much more importantly, now as the deal has been struck, is that the PST have considerable resources and had the intention to organise a series of events in Ramsgate throughout the summer.

Obviously because of the delays in striking the deal, they wouldn’t be able to comply with the timescale of the new council event licensing scheme, which means that going exactly by the book the council could prevent any events this summer.

Is it the Conservatives intention to support the museum and try to find ways that events can be held in Ramsgate this Summer, or is it the Conservatives intention to press for strict implementation of the rule book and prevent any events from occurring until next year?

Chris I consider the parking fees issue to be relatively minor compared to the overall parking problem, the most noticeable and potentially dangerous being the parking for The Turner Contemporary, where signage both telling people they are about to drive onto a pavement full of pedestrians and signage telling them where they could actually park for long enough to benefit the local economy is needed.

The most extreme case of parking restriction gone mad is the dead end road along Ramsgate Marina Esplanade.

The webcasting of council meetings is an area where I have an ongoing struggle with the council, I think this may have been partly responsible for getting them introduced and now I am trying to get them to put the videos on Youtube where the quality would be better and there would be no cost.

At the moment the reason I have from the officers is that this wouldn’t adequately protect the council’s copyright, something that just doesn’t make sense as you can download them from the council’s website.

Where I have traded in Ramsgate for 25 years the ongoing mania for double yellow lines is very damaging to the businesses and as most of it occurred after pedestrianisation when there was much less traffic, is viewed as an act of pointless spite by most people here.

Have no fears I will both publicise the webcast and watch it, when it eventually gets to the internet, one wonders what possible reason there could be for it taking so long to appear, one assumes officers only have to click on upload file like the rest of us.

Chris no fireside chats, no advising councillors here, just a sociable offer which I extend to you if I am not too busy at the time, my main point being that councillors need to get about Thanet and talk to local people.

I harbour no personal animosity towards officers and members, as some of them are authors I publish it would be difficult.

Incidentally Albion secondhand is still open, I have just received a local book order from them, which suggests the will remain open for a while, despite the new planning application.

Why I should think you drunk, or there was an improper aspect to your reply eludes me, you seemed a bit tired towards the end, I have no experience as a parking attendant beyond listening to Sgt Pepper, getting the odd parking ticket and handing my car keys to doormen which I expect involves a parking attendant somewhere.

Obviously as a shop assistant my grasp of things is limited, but I do my best to keep abreast the best I can and appreciate you defence of my right to free speech. I am however curious as to how you engage in this, defending of my right to free speech that is, is perhaps a weapon of some type involved?

Anyway I have done my best to respond to your comments and look forward to what you have to say about my responses.”
I guess the banana skins I am trying to pick up are pretty obvious, so I won’t expand on a post that is already too long, but still no reply from Chris.

I thought perhaps if I said it again but with flowers this time, I could possibly both get a reply and we could pick up some of the banana skins. 

it is well worth clicking on the pictures illustrating this post, so they enlarge.



For those of you with a sense of humour the Town Hall rich list has just been published at http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/thrl2012.pdf so you can check out TDC and see which officers are getting paid about £2,000 per week.

It’s a humbling thought really, to consider when they send me an email how much this actually costs.  


Actually this is much easier to follow on The Gazette’s website, see http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/worth/story-15933342-detail/story.html




The table below may help to unscramble it a bit, sorry about the funny kink in table that appears in some browsers, a typo on my part somewhere in the encoding, the moral here is don't try to to put a table in blogger it doesn't like that sort of script. 

 Body Name
Name
Job Title
Service Area
FTE of minim
FTE Salary
Cash for Ca
Total Remuneration
Thanet District Council
Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive & 151 Officer
Corporate/Democratic
1
107112
£5,000.00
£112,112.00
Thanet District Council
Madeline Homer
Community Services Manager
Housing/Planning
1
84090
£4,000.00
£88,090.00
Thanet District Council
Mark Seed
Commercial Services Manager
Waste/Maritime
1
86493
£4,000.00
£90,493.00
Thanet District Council
Donna Reed
Shared Services Director
East kent Shared Service
1
94365
£4,500.00
£98,865.00
Thanet District Council
Harvey Patterson
Corporate & Regulatory Services Manager
Corporate/Democratic
1
68694
£3,500.00
£72,194.00
Thanet District Council
Sarah Carroll
Business Services Manager
Corporate
1
60117
£3,000.00
£63,117.00
Thanet District Council
Sarah Martin
Financial Services Manager
Finance
1
60117
£3,000.00
£63,117.00


For comparison here is what the elected councillors get, this has just gone up or is due to go up by an average of 3.5%, so they each get about £80 per week and then more on top detailed in the table below if they hold some special position.

MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES SCHEME – 2011/2012


Basic Allowance

£4,360 each Member







Position

Number
Allowance

£
Possible maximum expenditure
£

Executive

Leader
1
18,082
18,082

Deputy Leader
1
10,776
10,776

Cabinet Portfolio Holder
3
7,990
23,970

Non-Executive

Chairman of Council
1
2,188
2,188

Vice Chairman of Council
1
1,530
1,530

Opposition Group Leader
1
5,204
5,204

Opposition Deputy Group Leader
1
2,304
2,304

Shadow Cabinet
3
2,304
6,912

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairman
1
7,990
7,990

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Vice-Chairman
1
3,216
3,216

Planning Committee Chairman
1
5,204
5,204

Planning Committee Vice-Chairman
1
1,216
1,216

Licensing Committee Chairman
1
3,216
3,216

Licensing Committee
Vice-Chairman
1
805
805

Governance and Audit Committee - Chairman
1
5,204
5,204

Governance and Audit Committee –
Vice-Chairman

1

1,216

1,216

Standards Committee - Chairman
1
1,216
1,216

Standards Committee – Vice-Chairman
1
279
279

Standards Committee – other Independent Member
2
139
278

JTB Chairman
1
1,216
1,216

TOTAL


346,182

18 comments:

  1. cllr Wells is right, the LSE does have a reputation even though its tainted for accepting Gaddafi's money and awarding Saif Gaddafi a master degree. Yet another dodgy degree with the LSE turning a blind eye to plagiarism.

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  2. Think some chap called Blair was also up to his eyebrows with Gadaffi as well, so maybe the LSE took their lead from the Prime Minister of the day.

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  3. I am not sure what Blair has to so with this posting but he was only following the lead given by Thatcher. You may recall that she set the ball rolling by sending xmas cards to both Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

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    1. But she did not send one to Ian Douglas Smith so she was not racist.

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    2. Possibly the first politician to drop a banana skin was the second politician, ever, in the hope that the first politician would slip on it.

      Delete
  4. Dear Michael

    This is attempt number three to reply to you, although your comment forms seems to have a mind of its own as to when a comment is complete! In your time rich environment, it does not seem to occur to you that some of us, unlike many of the local politicians you choose to praise, actually have to work for a living; and do not always spend our waking hours scanning the blogs for your pearls of wisdom. I was in London on Wednesday and Thursday; catching up with local matters friday; busy with beach huts saturday; and have only returned to your blog this morning, to be greeted by your disappointment that I have not rushed into your rather convoluted, clearly biased, rambling questions. I should not have to explain any of this to you really, but to a man who believes it is entertaining to publish regular pictures of his lunch on a plate as an illustration of the excitement of his day off, minutiae seems to matter.

    As you say yourself, your banana skins are so obvious they barely require any response at all. You have taken what I have said, partially interpreted it to your own satisfaction, and then used that contorted version as the basis for your questions.

    Pleasurama: you ask me to comment on a cabinet discussion I was not part of; based on paperwork that was, and I believe still remains, confidential. If your interest was as great as you claim, you would know that I was one of the few on either side of the chamber who expressed serious reservations about the change recommended by Cabinet when it came to full council. The key points in my speech concerned the poor nature of the banking references and business plan shown to us by the developer; a reminder that all of these problems stemmed from a poor decision to use a developer who was based oversea, on whom proper due diligence could not be undertaken, and who had been allowed to enter the contract without the usual bank backed personal guarantees - a decision of the previous Labour administration, something you so often forget to mention: and that the only reason I was prepared to countenance support was the involvement of Cardy, a reputable local company, and their willingness to put their own money into the arrangement. I am sure I have explained that position on your blog before; presumably you have airbrushed that view out of site as it does not fit with your current 'blame' scenario. The discussion at Cabinet recently was wide ranging, apolitical, and confidential - so anyone discussing it with you is breaching their obligations.

    You took a comment on the Maritime Museum, drew a false conclusion, and based your comments and questions on the false conclusion. I am truly happy for the people of Ramsgate that the Maritime Museum is open once again. It was clearly wanted by the town. The District Council's position has to be about weighing the public benefit against the costs involved in reopening, and/or opportunities lost for other uses for the period of the lease - what economists call opportunity cost. What is only now with publication of the lease anyone is able to consider is what the full costs are, and that is a somewhat complex calculation. The decision notice talks of £30,000 direct cost; Clive Hart used the sum of £40,000 as his measure in his speech on 19 April; so even within TDC there is apparantly some dispute as to the true cost. At first glance I believe the costs may be much higher. We shall do our own sums, and will respond in due course, through the relevant Shadow Cabinet member, probably Bob Bayford. In passing, I find it incredible you try to describe yourself as the nearest affected shop for the maritime museum; can I suggest you get out more and do some measured pacing between the relevant places?

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    1. Like most people in Ramsgate I have no idea what the deal is between TDC and the Steam Museum Trust to keep the maritime museum open. So without being privy to the finer detail it is very difficult to comment.However it is obvious that the reason why the place closed in the first place was because TDC stopped paying a direct grant to the EKMT to keep it open. So I would think that without any direct grant, TDC must have granted the SMT a lot of concessions to help them on their way which I think in some areas may have raised a few eyebrows as to the cost. I am glad up to a point that the museum is open but I am under no illusion that it is going to need a lot of support especially from the people of Ramsgate who wanted it opened in the first place. I do think that within two years the maritime museum will need some form of external funding if the people of Ramsgate do not truly support it,

      Delete
    2. Tony I will get to replying to Chris in the fullness of time, but my key point here relates to the situation we have now, where it is the intention of the PST to part finance this with a series of events in Ramsgate.

      They hold The Preston Steam Rally to help finance their activities at Preston and have both the resources and ability to hold events where the number of people attending is measured in the tens of thousands.

      I think the sticking point for this year would be the new rules imposed by TDC which were partly responsible for stopping the Broadstairs fireworks event, so my key question here was:

      “Obviously because of the delays in striking the deal, they wouldn’t be able to comply with the timescale of the new council event licensing scheme, which means that going exactly by the book the council could prevent any events this summer.

      Is it the Conservatives intention to support the museum and try to find ways that events can be held in Ramsgate this Summer, or is it the Conservatives intention to press for strict implementation of the rule book and prevent any events from occurring until next year?”

      Delete
    3. Chris I will do my best here and answer you in chunks as I get time, although it is my day off work my children can be fairly demandin,g so you may not get all of my answer until tomorrow.

      I had assumed from your response that you expected me to reply to it, I also assumed you would have mobile internet, I guess the problem with technology is that one is inclined to assume that people have the same facilities as one does oneself.

      You don’t need to scan the local blogs incidentally, just use the link on my sidebar that says “Click here for a quick résumé of the comment and posts on the main Thanet blogs” if you get mobile internet you will need to use the link once you get there, near the bottom of the page, that says “view web version”

      Sorry you didn’t like the pictures on the blog, I will endeavour to draw and publish a sketch of you, next time I post about you, I can pretty much guarantee you a very high position in google image search, you can check this by searching Bob Bayford or any of the other people I have drawn.

      So starting with Pleasurama and beginning with the secrecy issue, I concluded that when the local press published part of the content of the pinks, I could reasonably assume the issue to be in the public domain.

      I don’t think there is much point in recrimination over past decisions and your point that it was Cardy’s investment that won you over is a valid one.

      I think, in view of the work done since their involvement, surface drain subcontracted by them and foundations and the state they have left the site in which looks like a sudden downing of tools, some observations can be made.

      As this work completed and the amount they offered to invest would appear to have similar values, they may be, as it were, awaiting events and their continued participation is not necessarily guaranteed.

      This time instead of there being an intention to go ahead with third party investors in place, the intention is that the sale of the freehold of the land to the developers is used as security for third party investors, that may or may not be found.

      My reply to you was based on the assumption that you had some understanding of the law and economics.

      So the questions remain, simplified. Is it legal for the council to sell the freehold without going though the asset disposal process?

      And. Assuming SFP manage to interest third party funders with the security of the freehold, this only takes us to when the first of the new residents try to get a mortgage, because this is how the next part of the development is to be funded.

      At the moment the only monies from sales of the apartments is14 reservation deposits of 10% plus £2k representing the sale value of about one and a half apartments and this amount would count towards the deposit buyers would have to put up to obtain a mortgage.

      So in view of this being a new build on an EA designated high risk flood zone, how would anyone get a mortgage, without there first being a flood risk assessment?

      Delete
    4. Now onto the Maritime Museum, once again I don’t think that the past problems and recrimination is particularly helpful, in this case the deal has been struck and such funding as relates to the council has been committed.

      I don’t suppose you Bob or the local Conservative group would benefit as much from ongoing recrimination as they would from ensuring that the museum is successful and self funding.

      So we come to the main question, simplified. Will you and the Conservative group do what is in your power to overcome the red tape instituted last year, which means any funding event the museum want to hold this summer, wouldn’t be able to happen because of the amount of notice of an event they would have to give the council?

      Delete
    5. Chris, If you are short of time why not give up one of you councillors jobs? You owe it to the people of Thanet and Kent to have sufficient time to devote to your councillor duties, for which you recieve a minimum of £18,000.

      Delete
  5. In passing, as a Town Councillor myself, I always supported the wish of any one else who has not got one to have a Town Council - including Margate. Should I remind you that David Green was opposed during the campaign on the grounds that Folkestone Town Council has seen a rapid upsurge in precept charging to fund itself in previous years? Now as Mayor, of course he has a different view and urges the Ramsgate version to constantly spend more.

    How easily you swat away parking as an issue - I trust out of ignorance rather than deliberate intent. £40,000 worth of public money subsidy has been gifted to Birchington and Ramsgate to 'buy' votes to keep Labour in power, and keep Labour voters working with the Tiggywinkles who hold the balance of power. Further jerrymandering in the shape of chairmanships is due shortly. The way the figures work out is quite simple and should be remembered by every car owner for the next year: 30 pence in every £ you put in an on street parking meter this summer pays for the political bribe to keep the minority Labour group in power. I am trying to imagine the joy with which you would have fully published and endorsed any Labour press release on the subject if this had been a Conservative decision. Shame on your deliberate obfuscation.

    Lastly, your casual dismissal of the Labour groups attempt to vote all councillors apay rise on the grounds of cost of living increases. All staff have had to make do with 1%; but now the Labour group and the Tiggywinkles believe they should be worth 3.5%. Is there a bigger cost of living rise for councillors than others then? Or is this just a shameful attempt to treat themselves as special and different, which you are willing to endorse?

    Frankly, part of me felt your questions were hardly worth response because of their blatant bias. In passing International Relations is the study of the ways in which countries inter act with each other, and in common groupings and insitutions; international law is one small part. My own speciality was strategic studies, particularly the theory and practice of nuclear strategy; might explain some things to some people.

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  6. Chris the problem is the length of comment, making blogger reject it altogether or spam it, if you get more problems email your comment to me and I will include it in the post where there are no restrictions.

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  7. Ah Michael

    More contortions to hide your bias I see. Your original questions on Pleasurama related to the past, yet when you are facing evidence that your favoured group may have some responsibility, you find going over past recrimination is unhelpful!!

    In answer to your (simplified) questions.

    As transfer of the freehold was always, as I understand it, part of the process you would have to return to the original decision, under Labour, opre 2003, and ask what the asset disposal process was then and did they follow it.

    I do not think your calculations on deposits, funding, and availability of funds are accurate, but as these figures are commercially confidential till agreed otherwise I can say no more.

    I am not a mortgage expert: ask one.

    Maritime Museum. You once again make sweeping assumptions about right and wrong whilst dodging the history, and then ask the opposition what they would do if they had power with a problem created by the length of negotiation, which you imply lies solely with the council. The question you miss is the cost to Ramsgate of the I believe six weekends that the legal document allows the car park to be used for events (see the draft leases on TDC website). You link two things which while linked in their impact upon the museum trust are not linked in policy terms. How many other local voluntary groups could use 6 free weekends to run fairs to raise funds? And why should the museum trust be treated so spectacularly differently to others? Should one voluntary trust be allowed to evade the terms others have to live by? If so, why?

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    1. Chris on the whole I am not very keen on the recrimination game as it isn’t particularly helpful and productive, in this case you did answer my question about why you were happy to ahead with the development three years ago, which was because of the involvement of Cardy’s.

      This makes sense to me and at the time included the offer of a considerable amount of local employment, in retrospect and I know it always easy to wise after the event this didn’t happen.

      The first leases for the site were issued in October 2006, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/pda and I can’t see how the asset disposal process, if there was one, could have occurred all that much before that time, there may have been some asset disposal process for the previous scheme, which was a Whitbread scheme part financed by SFP, but that would have been about handing the asset to Whitbreads and not an offshore company.

      My understanding is that Whitbread pulled out and SFP submitted different plans, during the change of administration from Labour to Conservative. I think it would be difficult to lay the blame, even if I wanted to, which I don’t.

      My calculations on the deposit situation are drawn from the Royal Sands website, which clearly shows which apartments are reserved and which are available, what amount of deposit is to be paid at which stage.

      I guess you have read the heads of terms and have seen that they say, the leases are to be surrendered and the development agreement be revoked prior to the completion of a new development agreement and freehold land transfer.

      What I am getting at here is that if the process isn’t legal then it’s a potential banana skin.

      With the mortgage problem, I have asked several firms and the answer so far is no, my worry at the moment is that this sort of critical and sceptical approach should be what an effective shadow cabinet does. Looking out for this sort of potential banana skin that is, not slinging mud about who made which wrong decision ten years ago, when the site wasn’t designated as a high risk flood zone and so no one would have needed a flood risk assessment to get a mortgage.

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    2. Chris over the maritime museum events, I am just checking that I haven’t made some sort of mistake here, the car park has 24 spaces and an average parking cost of about £1 per hour so if it was half full 24 7 that would be about £600 per weekend, then say about £100 for parking attendants and other costs we are looking at about £3,600 in exchange for which we get 6 events per year, with presumably the people attending the events paying to park in the other car parks in the town.

      These are events that wouldn’t need funding by the council, but presumably would help the economy of the town considerably.

      The alternatives are that the council fund the museum or the museum closes I believe.

      You seem to be saying that you are against Ramsgate having these events, sorry I seem to have missed something here I think, do you mind expanding on what you have said about the museum a bit?

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  8. Anon of 1250 am. There is a difference between being short of time and not making replies to blogs a priority. Your ultimate conclusion is to only have retired and/or local government officers as councillors, as hapopens in London boroughs where mainly labour members have over the years often been only notionally employed in nearby boroughs. If you think that would be better you are enttitled to your opinion. Most would, I believe, disagree.

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    1. The nature of councils like KCC with their day time meetings exclude much of the working population from holding office. Yes, such councils are stuffed full of retired and those with their own businesses. And its not just labour councillors in London Boroughs that get soft jobs in neighboring boroughs. Even at KCC councillors have worked for the Audit Commission and other government quangos.

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