Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday Ramble


The picture is from a year ago this week, I have to admit to being sick of this late winter weather.

It has been a day if mixed messages first this press release http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/thanet-council-review-of-procedures.html the part that interested me the most was.

“Where officers deem it necessary to exclude the press and public due to the content of a report, the report that recommends the exclusion of the press and public will, in future, state what the public interest test is, to explain the rational for the exclusion, and what is meant by commercially sensitive, where applicable.”

I had a long chat about this with one of the council’s senior officers recently, the point I made was that all council documents should by default be in the public domain and that in most cases if a company wishing to deal with the council wanted documents kept out of the public domain they should have to pay a fee for this service. What I suggested was £500 to keep a document out of the public domain for five years after which it would be released.

Obviously there are problems associated with this sort of approach, but I think it helped to get my point across.

I think there is a feeling among some of the council officers that the writing is on the wall for TDC the possibility of a unitary authority is being openly discussed.


I guess the main weakness the council has is that it is supposed to be run for local people, it isn’t supposed to be a party political jousting field, nor is supposed to be a fiefdom run for the benefit and convenience of senior officers and senior members of the ruling group that happens to be in power.

I will ramble on here if I get a chance.   

44 comments:

  1. Bring on a unitary please and get rid of these clowns.

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  2. -anon 9.51
    most of the clowns would still be there plus others from canterbury,dover,folkstone,ashford,thus just a bigger circus.

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    1. Yes, and all the senior directors would get a massive bung

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  3. Not quite anon 9.51. First, there would be a far lower percentage of the Thanet idiot councillors amongst people with no 'local interests'. Second, most of the officer machine in Thanet wouldn't stand a chance against officers currently in Canterbury, Ashford and Dover. That must surely be a huge improvement against leaving the decisions and the advice to the current Thanet Mafia. It would certainly make it for more difficult for Councillors to 'lean' on planning enforcement officers as happened with Ezekiel.

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  4. Rather than continualy berating those who endeavour to improve thier local communities why not try it yourselves, there's a town council seat up for election in both Ramsgate and Broadstairs

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  5. And what would that achieve Poop Scoop. All the while TDC are in existence and dragging the district down, the Town Council's are of no effect. Go for a Unitary and beef up the Town Council's role and yes, it could be very worthwhile.

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  6. Going to a unitary requires the Thanet Cuncillors to punch above their weightin order to win the necessary resources to deal with what is needed here. If your reason for wanting a unitary authority is you feel the current cllrs are not good enough you are already condemning the area in which you live to be the poor and little thought of relation in a wider grouping. If you do not think the current cllrs are good enough, stand yourself, or go find better ones. Or support those you think work hard and properly whilst condemning those who dont. All councils are as good as the people who run them. Be more selective of the individual and less politically tribal in your voting.

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    1. Will (back from Nigeria) RobertsMarch 26, 2013 2:29 pm

      Why does it always come back to poor old John Thomas, Anon. Bad enough to be named after a reproductive organ, but to then be blamed for all the evils that then ensue is a bit tough, would you not agree. Whilst I would dearly love to agree with your theory about Conservatiive corruption, having lived elsewhere and perhaps, as a result, seen a little further than Margate and Ramsgate, I am only too aware that public office corruption is far from confined to one party. Indeed, you might just as well say that all those so far convicted in Thanet have been white councillors and, therefore, we should only elect black ones in future. We could even make it sex thing and decide that because only straight people have fallen by the way, perhaps we should have a gay council led by John Worrow.

      In a nutshell, Anon, you are spouting politically motivated bullshit and it serves no worthwhile purpose. Pick the best people from the candidates available, totally ignoring the labels or rosettes, and then you might get a result. Simply chirping that red is nicer than blue of Clive is a better leader than Bob is just childish nonsense.

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    2. Chris, Will, et al, I guess I had better point out here that it wasn’t me that raised the issue of unitary authorities in this instance, but one of the senior council officers who I was talking to about another issue yesterday morning.

      I think it is important to understand that if this happened it would most likely be part of a reorganisation of local government across the whole of Kent. Replacing the present two tier county and district with the one tier unitary, probably encompassing Thanet, Dover and Canterbury, possibly with more, Swale, Ashford, Shepway?

      Inclusive in this would be town and parish councils with more responsibilities.

      The discussion I had related to various problems, particularly to do with the problems TDC faces in getting past the Ezekiel conviction, much of this is related to the fact that aspects of the 7 years under the leadership of someone who transpired to be a crook has left problems.

      Some of the unusual decisions, like for example the 2009 cabinet decision to continue the Pleasurama development with an unknown developer operating through a non trading UK company, looked very suspect at the time.

      Now in the light of the conviction, assurances that were made at the time both by councillors and officers look considerably more dubious.

      I think the council has a difficulty over confidence here, both public confidence and self confidence and I would say that exploring solutions is what one would expect.

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    3. Will, You need to do just a little research and you will find that throughout TDC's life the crooks in Thanet have all needed to get planning permissions etc and their bedfellows have all been conservative. John Thomas and his mate Hoser were just the beginning with Ezekiel being the latest. There are plenty in between.

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    4. I have every faith that the likes of Chris Wells could do an admirable of job of fighting our corner and representing us in a Unitary Authority. It would be the Ezekiel's around him who could pull him down. I also like the idea of reducing the number of overpaid bureaucrats.

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  7. Chris is right to call for caution here for there is no guarantee that things would necessarily be any better within a unitary authority. Take KCC as an example, and there is already a suggestion that East Kent suffers infavourably to West Kent with the county cabinet dominated by West Kent councillors. The same thing could happen with a unitary taking even more power away from local communities.

    Perhaps the better option might be to get rid of district councils and return to the old days of town and parish councils where local people become more involved in local affairs. After all, isn't that precisely what localism is about.

    One thing is absolutely certain though and that is that, no matter what system is used, there will still be those that never do themselves, but are quick to find fault in those that at least try.

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  8. Chris. I agree the thrust of your argument. But "Mocking how the strong man stumbles" is all that "Those weak and timid souls who will neither know victory nor defeat" (Because they don't have the bottle) is common and gave rise to the Roosevelt quote there.

    Right now we are witnessing a Cllr, purporting to be a champion of free speech, choose only the issues that appear to offer the most public approbation for him.

    The Cllr in whose ward there is a laundry. Does it or does it not abstract water direct from aquifer ? At what distance from Thor and Sericol, too, is it environmentally and food chain safe for farmers to irrigate crops with direct abstraction.

    The Sericol contamination was discovered in 1993. Were Police conducting inquiries into TDC at that time ? Into Planning issues and duties such as environmental protection ? Are these inquiries being resurrected now ? Since Labour cllrs were lied to in 93 (Told the Sericol matter was quickly discovered and had not threatened water supply !) were police lied to ?

    The Sericol contaminant was cyclohexonone. A massive tonnage over 30 years of a water soluble solvent leaking to water table at Poorhole Lane.

    On discovery of the Sericol contamination Rumfields water abstraction was shut down. Yet somehow elected Labour cllrs were lied to and the first they knew the truth was 15 years later when yours truly got a response to an FOI to Environment Agency.

    It is a history giving rise to a specific Northwood ward issue.

    Presumably those Labour cllrs who were lied to had not been strong people who stumbled but were people, trying to serve well, who were tripped ? And that is the difference.



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    1. Except the confidence first drains under the odd selection of an offshore contactor under Nicholson and Johnson of the Labour party, something you always tend to conveniently miss from your pleasurama analysis Michael.

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    2. Chris I think I have highlighted the initial proposal fairly well and published the related documentation online. My understanding is that when the 2002 proposal first appeared it was considered by all parties to be a Whitbread proposal, the documentation says that this was to have been financed by SFP and describes SFP as a Swiss bank Societe Financiere Privee which became Societe Bancaire Privee in 2003, my understanding is that the letter from Societe Bancaire Privee saying it didn’t own SFP Ventures Partners didn’t appear until August 2003.

      I understand the letter was presented to the new Conservative leadership as was the information that Whitbread had pulled out. So the newly elected Conservative administration was given the documentary evidence that a major development started under the previous Labour administration, wasn’t, as had been thought the development of a major UK company, but actually an unknown offshore company.

      Some time ago I sent you the account of the conservative group meeting about this, I now have most of the supporting documents.

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    3. Allan MallinsonMarch 26, 2013 8:03 pm

      Michael, responding to your earlier comment about Richard Card and the taking of his name in vain, I think you are probably right. He has not been particularly active for some time and then, with county council elections in the offing, seems to be popping up all around the Thanet blogs with his allegations of perjury against a conservative candidate. It could well be someone on the political opposition using Richard's name and old allegations to damage an opponent.

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    4. I would say Allan that it is sufficient reason for you to consider getting and using a blogger id, the internet is a nastier and more difficult place than it was when I first started using it.

      One particularly irritating thing is the copying and reposting of comments that have been adjusted in some way.

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    5. No Michael, you sent me a document claiming it to be a council document. I told you it could not be so. Since then you appear to have been tarting it around as a party document, and the latest version has some exytra detail 'left' in. I would be more impressed if you put the document, even assuming it is true, in the proper context of the excoriating audit reports of labours previous failure over Pleasurama, but no, you continue your approach of minimising labour error and involvement and maximising - even altering, in description, the documents you purport show conservative failure. The first lesson for any historian is to weigh the source. You are weighed and wanting old fella.

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    6. Chris bit of a selective memory there I believe what I said was that I didn’t think it was a council document and I wonder if sending a document to senior Conservative councillors like yourself really counts as tarting it about.

      I would say a group of Conservative local residents formed in May 2003 as a result of the Conservative victory with a view to improving the amenity of the area, sounds fairly conservative to me; are you sayin I should have sent it to senior Labour councillors instead?

      I guess the problem for me is that I would like to see the council extricate itself from the Pleasurama fiasco with a minimum of liability, which I think means at some point some councillors are going to have to say “we were mislead, made a mistake, shouldn’t have rejected officer advice” well I guess I don’t know really.

      Out here in the real commercial world if I send someone the wrong book, I refund the money and the postage with an apology, what on earth happens in the world of politics where no one makes mistakes and the party line has to be protected at all costs is a bit beyond me.

      But yes both the Labour and Conservative administrations have contributed to the 20 year Pleasurama fiasco that started when Jimmy Godden tried to acquire the freehold and it seems to me we still have this business of trying to acquire this valuable and prominent council owned freehold at the forefront.

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  9. Cyclohexonone was also a chemical used in back street drugs factories. (Angel dust) but clearly a company whose stock control could not detect thousands of tonnes disappearing to ground, would have been unlikely to detect the odd five gallons being nicked.

    But in the normal world (Outside Thanet) thefts of cyclohexonone would be regarded as something police ought to be told about.

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    1. Perhaps, Richard, in the same way that the 'Great Thanet Art Theft' should be a police matter yet seems to have been referred to the Chairman of Scrutiny, one Cllr Driver, whose investigative abilities are clearly vastly superior to the CID. Perhaps the rumour that many missing items adorn the walls of former councillors is best left undisturbed so, to avoid rocking the boat, give it to a clown to look into.

      Then again, I find it interesting you suddenly feel the police should be looking into the contamination issue when so frequently in the past you have told us how the Chief Constable of Kent downwards have ignored all your hot leads into blatant criminality around the county. From bombings, to murders, to councillors committing perjury, the police have, according to you, ignored all the evidence you have laid at their door. Why, therefore, should we now think they are the right agency to investigate anything. After all, are they not, if your past proclamations are to be believed, all funny handshake brethren.

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    4. Solo Gays, I am not sure what exactly your point is here. What did the Red Hall meeting concluded about the police investigating the council?

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    5. Allan to be honest I am not sure these comments emanate from Richard Card as they are not connected to his blogger id and seem to be a mixture of the truth and half truths.

      Most of the comments that are posted anonymously with this name tag I have to remove as they contain potential libels which I don’t have the time or resources to check.

      Some are defiantly doctored versions of his old comments that have been reposted.

      With this one I am pretty certain that it didn’t come from Richard, who is an engineer and it is my guess is that he can spell Cyclohexanone, it may look like a difficult word to spell, but believe me it isn’t to a scientist or engineer who understands what it actually means, and therefore how the word is constructed, so to me these comments stand out like a sore thumbs.

      There is no chance of Cyclohexanone coming out of our taps because you would be able to smell it, I did raise the concern about the laundry borehole because the smell would have been masked by the washing chemicals and yes it could have been boiled off there, but the EA are now aware of the potential risk.

      There is an EA supervised remediation of this contamination, something I periodically check on.

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    7. Solo Gays 12:12 pm

      With respect, from your description this sounds like nothing more than gossip, malicious maybe. Suspicion is not enough.

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    9. Solo Gays, you have evidently been totally taken in by the Red Hall meeting to the extent that one must now regard you, in legal terms, as a hostile witness. As you said earlier, no conclusions were drawn and, to be frank, they never would be. The whole concept revolves around suspicion, innuendo and suggestion of foul play, all without real evidence, on the basis that, if you throw enough muck, some of it will stick.

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    11. These Thor and Sericol contaminations are a concern. The EA has hardly been on the ball: wasn't the Sericol contamination downplayed from its several tons? And Thor was banned but still operating for years? Contaminants wouldn't smell coming out of the taps but could very well be far higher than the safe levels.

      Again we seem to have only silence from our councillors and civil servants - not once raised in Cabinet or Council. And not one updated document/site visit from EA or HSE. Hardly reassuring, looks like keeping their heads down and picking up the pension for as long as possible and hope the public don't notice.

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  10. If you were to set up a unitary council for East Kent then if it were to include Ashford as well then it will be more of a mixed economy rather than just seaside district. Such a council could be run with no more than 80 councillors. The existing districts have 270 councillors plus 41 county councillors. Each town would have a council but unlike Ramsgate council they would be more meaningful. There are plenty of unitary councils of all shapes and sizes in other parts of the country that are very sucessful and more cost effective and there is no reason why one could not work here.

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    1. We already have one, manofkent, it's called the KCC.

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    2. Manofkent blogger automatically spammed your comment and it was only by chance I found it, if you get problems with comments vanishing let me know.

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    1. Richard, just to put your mind at rest, I sometimes sit of an evening at my back bedroom window looking down the garden to where a fairy ring nestles beneath the shade of the yew tree. As dusk falls, the little people suddenly appear and begin to dance around the ring all glittering with stardust. Recently one fairy detached herslf from the others, flew up to my window and engaged me in conversation.

      She told me that the fairies have just about had it with humans screwing up the planet, contaminating everything, destroying other species and generally making a complete nonse of things, so they are going to take over. I realised it was no ideal threat for they have powers way beyond our imagination and it is now only a matter of time.

      Just thought I would tell you this so you can stop worrying about all your perceived wrongs. It really does not matter in the greater order of the universe because all our days, be we councillors, chief constables, masons or just angry old men, are numbered.

      Suggest you make the most of what remains, get yourself a good vintage malt and chill out. It is not the old bill who are coming knocking at the door but the wee folk.

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  12. I think you're making that up Mr Mallinson. You said that the fairy flew up to your window, then later said the wee folk were knocking at your door. Inconsistencies breed conspiracies, you know... [Smiles weakly]

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    1. Allan MallinsonMarch 27, 2013 9:55 am

      They still have to fly up to the knocker because they cannot reach it, Anon. Sorry you think I made it up, but if you truly believe and pick the right twilight moment you can actually seem them yourself. Mind you, if your imagination is as vivid as Rick's, you can also see the Hell Fire club members galloping into Margate after dark, cloaks flying and horses snorting as they search for virgins (laughs out loud).

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    2. The fairies came to me too and said Allan was just an obnoxious twit with little to say. They're not wrong are they.

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    3. Allan MallinsonMarch 27, 2013 3:23 pm

      And there was me thinking we were having a bit of harmless fun and you have to resort to rudeness, Anon 1:25. Anyway, as it is almost Easter I will forgive you this time, but I suggest you toddle along to confession to get the forgiveness that really counts.

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    4. I'm a fairy, my name's nuff, fair enough.

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    5. Virgins in Fannit - they'll have a long hunt methinks

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    6. They gave up in Medway and Sheereness Anon5.24, Thanet (Broadstairs?) is North Kent's last hope!

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