Saturday, 2 November 2013

Pleasurama Cllr Driver The Government and Filming Council Meetings.



I would guess quite a few of us who form the what? Amazed of Ramsgate. I don’t really know how to describe the locals feelings over Pleasurama, but most certainly have them and are sick to the back teeth of the ongoing council lead disaster there.

Anyhow Cllr Driver has filmed – either illegally or in the spirit of the national government, depending on your point of view – the latest meeting of the council’s committee with the remit of trying to get us out this fine mess.

I guess as over the next few months the government is going to bring in legislation that will force councils to allow the filming of all public council meetings, so whether what Cllr Driver is doing it the right thing to be doing will soon only be of historical interest, it does beg the question though of why other councillors are not putting film of council meetings on YouTube. Do they perhaps lack the nerve?

As someone who couldn’t get to the meeting, due to having children, I have to admit being able to watch the meeting does help to form some sort of opinion about what the council are up to over Pleasurama. I do in fact wonder if there is anyone among the local voters here in Ramsgate who would prefer it if the meeting hadn’t been filmed.

There is certainly a sense that there is some sort of intention to achieve yet another deal between the cabinet and the developer, which would most likely lead to another few years of inactivity on the site. 


There was certainly a case of the council misleading the committee about the extent of the developers spend on the development so far, it was very difficult to tell from the officers reaction whether this was by accident or design. There certainly seems to be some doubt as to whether the council made a proper job of finding out if the developer had or had either the money or the experience to carry out the development.

I guess a real factor here, particularly in view of having seen the film of the meeting, is; do the council have either the ability or the will to resolve the Pleasurama issue in a reasonable timeframe and to the benefit of Ramsgate. I think when one considers both the resolve and determination that the council used to resolve the Dreamland issue and the years that has taken, we may be in for a long wait.   

124 comments:

  1. From the questions to Dr Sue from the Task & Finish Committee:
    Both Ian Driver and Richard Nicholson asked broadly the same question as follows:-




    Letter from SFP Ventures UK Ltd dated 2 June 2009 page 27: This letter states that Wetmore Investments will be funding the construction of the hotel through a £5million investment. What checks did the Council make into the validity of this claim e.g. obtaining copies of development agreements with SFP, and what steps did the council take to check the bonafides of Wetmore Investments e.g. securing information about company registration and ownership of Wetmore Investments and copies of its accounts. Was Wetmore Investment ever contacted by the council?

    The answer:
    External solicitors were used to validate the ability of Wetmore to provide the agreed level of finance, and that a binding legal agreement was in existence.

    At the meeting when this answer was queried Dr. Sue said
    We asked Evershed's (TDC Solicitor) to ask Pretty's (the Developer's solicitor) the question above and surprise Pretty's said everything was fine.
    The question on every councillor's lips was where in the appendixes does the report from Pretty's appear and why are we hearing about this nearly 4 years later?

    ReplyDelete
  2. just another attempt to hide the brown packages maybe??

    ReplyDelete
  3. This has to be nonsense doesn't it ? There are 3 parties. Wetmore (Shaun's son in law ?), Shaun SFP Ventures and TDC.

    So TDC instruct solicitors to give an opinion on the opinion they obtain of Shaun's solicitor ?

    Suppose this then went to court. TDC draw up their witness list. Mr Keegan's solicitor please give evidence in our cause against your client.

    Surely the body who should have been approached for verification was Wetmore ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anon when you pay a professional a salary you would expect them to earn their money. They have to ask the right questions of the right people. Asking a solicitor who works for the other party seems on the face of it to be crazy.
    1. Who are Wetmore?
    2. Who owns the company?
    3. Do they have the finances and the experience to provide £5M
    4. Where is the company registered

    These are the minimum TDC needed to know before accepting the offer was genuine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Michael, to deal with the question posed in your post about whether or not Cllr Driver should have filmed this meeting, I must admit to serious reservations here. Whilst I agree with the move by the government to more openness on meetings, currently TDC restrict filming in the chamber and Cllr Driver is a member of that council. If we all start breaking the rules of everything we belong to, anarchy ensues. By all means campaign for change, but not happy about taking the law into ones own hands.

    As to your post, the film clip and the subsequent comments, does this tell us anything we did not already know. It does all rather smack of a record stuck in the groove going over the same tired ground. I suppose it does serve the Driver purpose of a bit more publicity though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. William not sure which party is breaking the rules here as government guidelines to councils and to the public say that filming is and should be allowed. Indeed the government have produced a leaflet telling people to go to council meetings and to film them as part of their civic duty.

      The council seem to have found a loophole in the law because the council’s constitution says that they can stop people form filming, however this doesn’t seem to cover a situation where someone films covertly and then publishes the film on YouTube.

      Meanwhile the government are changing the law so the council can’t prevent people from filming public meetings. The key word here being public.

      What the council’s constitution says is : 34.2 No audio or visual recordings shall be made at meetings except for official recordings by the clerk or recordings agreed by the Chairman to be made by accredited media organisations.

      And as I have said there doesn’t seem to be anything in the constitution to cover the situation where someone has recorded the meeting, nor do I see with the size of cameras and the incorporation of audio and visual recording devices in the technology we all carry around with us, there would be any way of officers enforcing their rules.

      However I think the bottom line here is that here we have a public meeting about an important Ramsgate issue that took place in Margate when I couldn’t attend it and one of the Ramsgate councillors has recorded it so I have now seen and heard the meeting. As a Ramsgate resident interested in the issue I didn’t see this as a publicity stunt, just that the meeting I wished to see being available so I could see it, frankly I think that this is something the council should have done.

      Delete
    2. Much as I agree with filming, I believe the "guidelines" are simply that, and not enforceable. This is why tougher rules are going through parliament.

      Delete
    3. Michael it might be helpful to let you know that since posting the film I have had over 400 hits on that particular item on my blogsite which leads me to think that there is a demand to view footage councillors discussing topical issues. I am also waiting to hear back from 4 Kent council's, but I can tell you that FOI to all 13 Kent Councils have revealed that most of them allow filming. I will be blogging on this in due course.

      Delete
    4. Peter I think the other side of the coin here, is that outside of strip searching everyone attending council meetings then there isn’t really a way the council officers could prevent covert filming and even then it would be difficult.

      I should put “spy camera” into ebay and see what you can get for under twenty quid.

      Delete
    5. I wonder whether TDC would be better served by allowing proper scrutiny of their "due diligence" before they agreed decisions. This was mentioned in the meeting by several councillors and had this happened in 2009 would we having the issues over this fiasco today.

      Maybe the Officers would also like to explain how much the cliff repairs actually cost, how much SFP contibuted and whether the figures agree with Michael's FOI at the time?

      Delete
    6. Michael, you are rather fudging more than clarifying the issue. Currently TDC choose to ignore government guidelines and ban filming of meetings which they are quite entitled to do. As a councillor Ian Driver is therefore breaking the rules of something to which he belongs.

      Would you expect to break the rules of your golf club or, as a soldier, ignore standing orders. One would hope not so where is the difference. Campaign for change is fine, but blatant contravention of the rules makes for anarchy for where do you draw the line.

      Delete
    7. there have been many occasions in British history where bad laws have been challenged by civil disorder (Poll tax being a good example) leading to the Law being annulled. In this case our current Government have issued guidelines saying Council meetings should be filmed and because some Council's (TDC being only one example) decide they do not need to follow guidelines (Why? what do they have to hide) new Laws are being drafted so that Councils cannot weasel out of the guidelines. William you are being disingenuous because if it wasn't Driver you wouldn't be bothered.
      For those like Michael filming enables him to follow that which interests him

      Delete
    8. Mr Epps do you think it is ok to let "due diligence" be done on Wetmore by the counterparty's solicitor? Or is attacking Driver more important?

      Delete
    9. Anon, 5:28, if anyone flouts the rules of an organisation to which they belong I would be bothered. Civil disobedience is an entirely different matter, but we are talking here of a member breaking the rules of the institution to which he belongs. This is not the public defying the order and filming, but a councillor filming his colleagues.

      Put it another way, supposing the new rules are introduced and filming is permitted, but along comes a new leader of the council who decides to flout the rules and obstruct filming again. Bet you would be one of the first to scream.

      Delete
    10. William there is the rub though TDC isn’t a golf club or the armed forces and the councillors are there because we have elected them and with the last election result supporting neither party to the extent of a working majority, I would say if there is any message from the electorate, then it’s; sort out the mess.

      I have used this parallel before, for you as a Broadstairs councillor, were all of the area behind the beach and Broadstairs Pavillion TDC owned and derelict for a period of years along with your museums and other main public buildings you may take a different stance.

      Over Pleasurama ten years of following the rules doesn’t seemed have produced much progress and it really does seem to be only Cllr Driver who is making and has made a very pubic fuss about this issue.

      Frankly were it not for his tenacity I very much doubt that the previously secret documents discussed at this meeting would have seen the light of day and yes I have had them since 2009, but I played by the rules, perhaps I hadn’t we would already be out of this mess and have a development on the site.

      Delete
    11. If Broadstairs were in the state Ramsgate sea front is in, I would very much hope that the BTC would do something about it. Indeed, it is probably because BTC is, and has been for years, a very effective council, that Broadstairs has not got into that state.

      On the Cllr Driver issue, one rather feels he would champion anything that puts him in the spotlight and, on your point about him being elected, surely that was by the Labour voters of Northwood. Is he representing them and do they support his persistent rubbishing of a Labour led council?

      Delete
    12. Mr Epps I notice you do not comment about the "due diligence" issue. Something that only comes to light on the 31st so not old news at all.
      All you do is critique Driver. If you do not like it then complain to standards instead of complaining on here and avoiding the lack of "due diligence" by TDC

      Delete
    13. Anon 6:28, I responded to a comment directed at me by Michael which, as far as I am aware, I do not need your permission to do. My opinion of Cllr Driver's activities is a personal one and he can take my comments up with me any time he likes. I would rather be open and honest with my opinions than go sneaking off to Standards with a complaint.

      By the way, do you have a name or is anonymous the best you can come up with when you criticise others?

      Delete
    14. "due diligence" is still there unanswered. Have you a comment?

      Delete
    15. "Mr Epps do you think it is ok to let "due diligence" be done on Wetmore by the counterparty's solicitor?"

      My take is it is very wrong to rely on the counterparty solicitor. At the very least TDC should have correspondence from Wetmore confirming their registered address and person who is the beneficial owner of the company. More so the agreement has a stepping in clause which would have been enacted if SFP had gone bust. They would have been in a difficult situation not knowing who Wetmore was

      Delete
    16. Anon 6:41, 'due diligence' to me sounds just like another soundbite to toss around because it is the in thing of the moment. It is irrelevant to the points I was responding to and, in any event, all the time you remain anonymous I owe you nothing.

      Barry, clearly relying on the other sides solicitor is not to be recommended and certainly not something one would do in a personal transaction like buying a house. That said, and not being privy to the exchanges at the time, I am in no position to comment in any depth. Asking questions of the other sides solicitor is fairly normal practice, but you would expect your own to verify the answers.

      Delete
    17. Under the Human Rights Act 1998 we are subject to the European Human Rights Convention, of which article 10 protects freedom of expression, of which public discussion of issues of interest to the public cannot be limited by any public authority. Given that the council does not issue an unedited and independently filmed video of meetings, it is entirely legitimate for others to take matters into their own hands, because the council policy is clearly in violation of the Human Rights Act 1998. Aiding discussion of matters discussed at meetings of publicly elected officials is clearly in the public interest, a concept repeatedly upheld by the highest courts in the land. Even if there is a new press regulator, the idea that he/she would uphold the right of elected councils to conduct meetings with regard to the spending of public money in private, protected by the flimsy underwear of their own illegal consistitution would not hold any water. There is no ambiguity here: if you are in public office, expect your actions and meetings to be observed and scrutinised by the public. If you don't like it, don't take public office.

      Delete
    18. Why does Cllr Epps think Broadstairs is well-run fro Broadstairs? The Community centre farce? The Viking Bay pollution? Nearby Thor mercury pollution? Oil tankers off the coast?

      Delete
    19. The Community Centre farce was cancelled by TDC which they have since accepted was wrong. Viking Bay water conforms to EU requirements, Thor, which is historic now, was out on the Ramsgate Road and not within the control of BTC anymore than the town council has any control over tankers using the shipping lanes. If you must comment, 4:41, try to made some valid points or show at least a bity of intellect.

      Delete
    20. Breach of human rights because TDC doesn't allow unrestricted filming..... hang on....

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      It's buffons like you Joe that make a mockery of the human rights act, that cause whose rights ARE actually abused to suffer more!

      Get a grip boy!

      Delete
    21. Not sure which pony you rode in on, John, but it is leaving.

      Delete
    22. Pony and trap often springs to mind when I read your comments Turner..

      Delete
  6. William, I doubt whether even BTC could've done anything about a ferry going bust or a funfair closing down. Fortunately nothing that major has happened to Broadstairs (and I'm certainly not putting Broadstairs down, I love the place!).

    Despite Ian's "bandwagon" reputation, I find it interesting that Laura Sandys is in agreement with him over several issues - live animal exports, gay marriage and filming of council meetings being three examples.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And sadly Peter, the gay marriage one could cost her seat in parliament with the massive loss of membership in the Conservative party that has resulted.

      Delete
    2. I'm inclined to agree that it was a mistake.

      Delete
    3. As so does David Cameron now it is too late. That is the problem with many politicians, they simply do not listen.

      Delete
    4. All utterly irrelevant and untrue. You two might not approve of gay marriage, but that just shows your prejudice rather than the local opinion on the subject. If Laura Sandys does not retain her seat it will undoubtedly be because of other issues.

      Delete
    5. Nothing to do with prejudice, so please don't start all that homophobic crap.

      Delete
    6. Joe Turner, it has nothing to do with prejudice, but the fact that the Conservative party membership has declined significantly since this bill was introduced. Constituency parties put 50% of their membership losses down to this single issue where David Cameron refused to listen to his own members and pushed through the legislation with the support of Labour and Lib/Dems.

      When it comes to election times, it is the members who are the troops, who knock on the doors, who deliver the leaflets, who run the campaign offices and who get out the supporters. Without them any candidate would struggle.

      Delete
    7. Why because someone disagrees with something does that make them prejudiced Turner? Perhaps you are not in favour of people having the right of freedom of thought and expression, perhaps you think that these human rights that you inanely bleat about elsewhere, should be restricted to only those people who agree with your view....

      Delete
    8. The discussion is about filming in a council meeting, gay marriage is not part of that discussion, hence you are bringing issues into irrelevant discussions, which is commonly known as prejudice. And that is exactly what it is.

      Delete
    9. The discussion moves on Turner, keep up ;)

      Having a view not the same as yours is free thought Turner, enshrined in the human rights act. What was the section, "article 10 protects freedom of expression, of which public discussion of issues of interest to the public cannot be limited"

      I think that's what's called getting bitten by your own dog Turner ;)

      Delete
    10. You missed out the words 'by a public authority'. Last time I looked, Michael was not a public authority.

      You're clearly a troll, and I'm not feeding you any longer.

      Delete
    11. They were irrelevant, or are you suggesting that private individuals should be allowed to curtail another's human rights as you are attempting to do here?

      I am more than happy to have humiliated yet another buffon!

      Delete
    12. If Hamilton is a troll what does that make you Turner, Billy Goat Gruff? Tosser is more like it.

      Delete
  7. Driver is challenging TDC and is right to do so. TDC is stuck in a time-warp and has been failing us because of its total lack of transparency. What will YOU do about it? I'm going to write to TDC and demand that they allow filming. We can see the House of Commons, we can se the House of Lords, we can see other councils and we can see the court of appeal. Why can't we see TDC? Are they really so embarrassed by how poor they've become that they don't want anybody to see them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt if they'll take any notice of me (or you) if we write to them, but it looks like they'll HAVE to take notice of a change in law soon. It's been going through parliament this very week I believe.

      Delete
  8. You can also see TDC 9:49, they publish their proceedings on video, did you not know that? It's just not in 5th rate home video, edited to support or disprove whichever particular axe is being ground by the 5th rate "videographer" producing the finished product.

    I wonder how you'd get on trying to video parliament on your home video camera....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only full council meetings are recorded and transmitted 7-10 days after the meeting and only after the recording being edited.
      They could live stream all council meetings but they do not Why?

      Delete
    2. for instance PMQ's are transmitted live so not at all like Parliament then hammy.
      For those that have an interest in the workings of TDC meetings but cannot get there to view from the public gallery viewing proceedings live would be a Godsend. But then they would have to watch what they say. No bad thing.

      Delete
    3. Yes, Barry, perhaps then they would stop screaming homophobes at their colleagues or accusing them of corruption and snouts in troughs. On second thoughts, one would probably even increase the shouting and acting for the PR value!

      Delete
  9. yet no 5th rate home video amatuers are allowed to film and rehash according to which axe they're grinding, there's a thing ;)

    Much the same as parliament then...

    ReplyDelete
  10. I personally have very mixed feelings about this issue. I am all up for transparency, especially of elected representatives. I think the lack of public confidence in TDC is partly based on the secretive nature of the council. Like the majority of the world, I think the council should allow filming. If we take the approach the mainstream media have to adopt with parliamentary footage, it could work. Programmes such as the Daily Politics take the authorised feeds and edit them to make them palatable to the public in bite sized chunks. Perhaps we could adopt this approach?

    Without Cllr Drivers film, a number of active citizens would not be able to engage with this important meeting.

    However, Cllr Driver broke the rules and will be subject to criticism from others. Cllr Epps rightly pointed out that Cllr Driver was elected under the Labour banner and is being critical about them. Perhaps more Councillors should offer opposition against the current administration rather than Cllr Driver because it seems to many that the Conservatives are in collusion with Labour and not offering effective opposition. The only criticism is aimed at Cllr Driver. Which - again - seems to many observers to indicate the underhand dealing of local politics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John for clarification as you obviously haven’t seen the council produced videos, they don’t even get near 10th rate the quality being so poor that usually you can’t even identify the person speaking, let alone have some inkling towards what their expression may be.

      Duncan I think you have nailed some of the problems. Could it be that the councillors of both main parties, for the most part, consider the best way to get re-elected is to maintain a low profile and hope that the voters who vote by party will do the trick.

      As I said before, the video was useful and does give us some idea of how the council are progressing what is after all a critical issue for Ramsgate. I however would like part of the Pleasurama debate to be based on a proper and professional appraisal of the site assuming that any development there is likely to last for about 100 years.

      It took the destruction of The Turner Centre mark one mock up to achieve this for The Turner Contemporary where we now have both a cliff wall and flood risk provision that looks to be adequate for the life of the gallery. I doubt at the time anyone considered that the developers of The Turner Centre mark one were just trying to do the impossible, given the physical constraints of the site.

      My concern is that we are descending into a mixture of recriminations about the past failings of previous administrations and the developer while no one seems to be looking towards a safe, affordable and viable development on the site. My feelings are that if only 10% of the recriminatory effort and legal expenses were put towards answering the simple unanswered question; is the proposed development viable? The rest would fall by the wayside.

      Delete
    2. Michael maybe you could post hammy the link so he can see for hisself

      Delete
    3. If a blogger was to take a video and to splice it together in such a way as to make it appear that councillors were saying things that they were not in that meeting, there is already a way for the council to take action. But at present the council clearly does not want discussion about the activities of councillors in council meetings - hence they release a poor video that they have themselves taken and edited, refuse to listen to others (including national government ministers) who say that they should allow these videos to be displayed and discussed on local blogs and only host the videos they take for a very short period of time. This is not democracy.

      Delete
    4. Seen em, bored after about minutes, hence why the viewing figure for parliament or often reduced to mere double, and sometimes even single figures. You want to see their expression, goto the meeting. Much like playing poker online, it's a pale imitation of the real thing.

      Turner, look up "out of context" then read some of the comic Thanet Watch's comedy, and you might start to gain an understanding of why 8th rate "journalists" should not be afforded the ability to turn out their 5th rate home movies, where they might be afforded an air of legitimacy that anyone not knowing their provenance might be duped into affording them.

      Much like a newcomer coming to Thanet, and believing that Driver is a politician that is loyal, and whose campaigns are not self serving media whorery.

      Delete
    5. Much like your replies then, John Hamilton. As I said previously, the difference is that the council time is on behalf of the public, hence it doesn't actually matter if you fail to have the attention span to take any notice. Funnily enough, public debate is more than your own proclivities. Ultimately what you or TDC think is a moot point - the law is being changed and filming will be backed directly by law in all council meetings.

      Delete
    6. It MAYBE backed directly by law in the future, at which point, it may or may not end end broadcast to the half dozen people with nothing of interest going on their lives who might get a kick out it Turner.

      Till then, your opinion is moot, as the fact is that TDC already publish video of what it does, that nobody already watch ;)

      Interesting that you back public debate, so long as that debate is on a subject of your choosing, and with an opinion put forward that you approve of.

      Delete
    7. To make a final point to counter your lies: the Local Audit and Accountability Bill is quickly passing through parliament and will be law in the near future. The idea that council meetings should be filmed by the public is supported at a national level by both Conservative and Labour front benches.

      I back debate based on facts by local people. I don't think you are factual or local, John Hamilton.

      Delete
    8. Yet I have heard nowhere from anyone that an inability to video a council meeting is an infringement of anyone's human rights. I wonder how the downtrodden LGBT and female communities in muslim countries, feel about you likening the peril to their lives that human rights abuses in those countries bring, should be compared to a a 10th rate "journalist" not being allowed to make a 5th piece of propaganda from a council meeting in deepest darkest Kent..

      I wonder why you seek to limit "debate" to subjects, and views of those subjects that you approve of, didn't you intimate that filming of council business is a national issue, not a local one?..

      Not sure why you'd think I care about your opinion of me, but FYI, I don't :)

      Think you need to get a grip boy.

      Delete
  11. The recording of events at that meeting does no harm, it was public and paid for by the ratepayers, commercial sensitivity fades into insignifigence compared to the shadyness of meetings/deals elsewhere. I'm surprised that the topic hasn't blown up into civil disturbance yet, perhaps the timely release of goings on may just act like a pressure safety valve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably find the vast majority of ratepayers would rather have the money than watch a boring council meeting. Why should the many fund the whims and fancies of the few?

      Delete
    2. Anon 1:01, the reason it has not blown up into a civil disturbance is because the vast majority could not care less whether council meetings are recorded or not. As 1:38 says, given the choice they would probably rather have the money.

      On civil disturbance, that usually amounts to a minority taking to the streets in an endeavour to force their will on the majority.

      Delete
    3. William if only the "silent" majority would make their feeling known then maybe people wouldn't have to speak for them. Maybe the silent majority could care if only the politicians would take any notice.

      I think it reprehensible that anyone would consider that their opinion speaks for a "silent" anybody. That is as bad as a minority allegedly speaking for the majority

      Delete
    4. Barry, do you seriously believe that the majority of people are interested in watching council meetings? Who do you think you are speaking for? Did the poll tax rioters/demonstrators bring about a fairer result whereby a local tax is decided by the value of property rather than the number of gainfully employed persons living in it? Did the Countryside Alliance in taking to the streets represent a majority on the issue of fox hunting? There is plenty of evidence from election turnouts to demonstrate there is serious apathy on the part of the public towards politics despite the best efforts of people like you and I.

      Delete
    5. William what I said was let the silent majority speak for themselves. If they choose not to what gives anyone the right to speak for the silent majority.
      I have no idea what the majority want and I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone but myself

      Delete
    6. But, Barry, you do seek to represent the views of others and you frequently comment accordingly. All I am saying is that the great majority are clearly not interested and do any of us, be that Ian Driver, you, me or anyone else, have a right to presume what they want. Do they want council meetings filmed is a good example?

      Delete
    7. "he reason it has not blown up into a civil disturbance is because the vast majority could not care less whether council meetings are recorded or not"

      How would you know as they are silent on the matter?

      Delete
    8. For the simple reason they show absolutely no interest in the activity of the council and the majority cannot even be bothered to vote come election times. Look in the local paper letters section on political issues and it is the same handful of people who write in week after week in the same way that it is the usual people who comment round the blogs.

      That aside, by campaigning for filming at meetings, are you not assuming that is what a majority want? If not, and it is only your wish, then that is hardly democratic, is it?

      Delete
    9. William where did I campaign for filming. I said I agreed with Michael that showing what happens live lets people like Michael who have an interest view proceedings.
      The Tory party state they want more openness do you disagree with that view?

      Delete
    10. You are diverting, Barry, which is a sure sign of losing the argument. No I do not disagree with more openness in governance at all levels, but we were discussing whether or not most people really care. The evidence gauged by the interest shown, is that all but a few are not bothered.

      Delete
    11. Have you asked them? whoever they are.
      Politicians have made a living by saying they speak for the majority but in fact they do not. I for one have felt politicians of all persuasions have failed the majority for years, look at the expenses scandal, which is why less and less people actually bother to vote and what goes on in the Council chamber makes it more likely that people will give up voting.

      Delete
    12. I didn't realise this was an argument that you wanted to win so badly William I thought it was a discussion around filming debates and discussions within the Council chamber.
      By all means treat it as a win/lose if you like but I have made the point and so has Michael. It is cheaper to broadcast live to Youtube than spend money recording then editing then putting on a server. So why not?

      Delete
    13. William, you appear to misunderstand the concept of representative democracy - namely that the elected officials are subject to public scrutiny. That nobody is watching is irrelevant - the critical point is that the public at present cannot watch the meetings even if they wanted to - hence the allegation that in meetings councillors do all kinds of things which do not appear in the public record.

      Delete
    14. William a hypothetical statement: which pollsters use for their predictions and many accept.

      Set up a stall in a high street and ask a simple question Would you like Council meetings streamed live?
      the first five people say yes does that make it 100% majority?
      The next 15 say yes does that make it 100%?
      The next 1000 say yes does that make it 100%
      A pollster would say after the first 100 people it is unanimous however you know and I know everyone needs to say yes before it is 100%. So where do you stop?

      Delete
    15. I have personally spoken to a Tory councillor who told me that he didn't care how many people signed a petition, he wouldn't be swayed. In other words, he didn't believe that he was there to reflect public opinion, rather to express how own, bigoted views.

      I believe that this kind of attitude towards the electorate is widespread amongst the political parties, and is underpinned by two key facts:
      1) It doesn't matter how low voter turnout gets, someone will be elected.
      2) If you are standing on behalf of a mainstream party you are guaranteed a large number of votes from people who don't care who or what they vote for, as long as it's wearing the right coloured rosette.

      What this means, in practice, is that even if thousands of people oppose or support something, the politicians can ignore them and still have a fair chance of being re-elected.

      Delete
    16. You are conflating two different things

      The right to know or witness the workings of the elected body.

      The right to lobby or seek to persuade by argument your elected representative.

      There cannot be a right to influence an elected representative to act against the law, to act against his own moral and political judgement or to vote in line with the most vociferous public opinion.

      Similarly the courts. Law must be seen to be done and even when guarding judges you have to refer to them about throwing troublesome persons out of a court. It essentially has to be a judicial decision to deny them their right to witness law being done.

      It would be great if court proceedings were videoed. To get a transcript is very costly. Imagine if you wanted to know what an elected cllr had said in the witness box. Just click it up on U Tube.

      Delete
    17. Barry et al, sorry but I do not spend my life on my computer and so much seems to have been added since my last exchange with you that there is little point in trying to pick up where we left off. No I am not trying to win an argument, my point was more reflecting your evident desire not to lose.

      To summarise, I do support openness and transparency in governance, but I reiterate that the evidence would suggest there is much apathy towards politics and politicians where the general public are concerned. Joe Turner seems to be under the impression that he knows what I think. A remarkable skill if true, especially over the www, but where have I ever said or implied that elected representatives should not be open to scrutiny. Of course they should, but that is very different to the debate about whether just anybody should be able to film council meetings.

      Anon 5:32 makes some very valid points, particularly that pertaining to the most vociferous public opinion. That, of course, invariably comes down to the most vociferous claiming to somehow represent or defend public opinion.

      Delete
    18. "little point in picking up where I left off" then carry on where you left off ROFL

      Delete
    19. I summarised my points, 6:01, rather than responding to Barry's last comment. That is what I meant by not picking up where we left off, but perhaps that was a little too subtle for you. You should be careful with all that rolling around the floor laughing for you might just get sectioned if somebody sees you.

      Delete
    20. I suppose one question that should be asked is how much has TDC spent over the last few years on IT that doesn't film council meetings, my understanding is that they spent a large amount of money installing a system that directed a webcam at the councillor who was using his microphone and the whole process was recorded. If parliament can be recorded it seems slightly shoddy that a small district council decides that its discussions are much to important to be seen by the public at large.

      Delete
    21. Again, whether or not you like it, William, is irrelevant. There is legal opinion (which I've actually been given) that the policy is illegal under the Human Rights Act, but even if the current situation could be stood up in court, the law is currently being changed to allow filming in all council meetings. Hence what you think about the matter is entirely irrelevant.

      Delete
    22. Joe, you seem again to be at cross purposes with what I say and what you maintain I think.

      I do not oppose transparency in governance, I support it. I am well aware the law is about to change and that those councils like TDC who have held out against filming, will then be forced to comply. Human Rights is a grey area and a right to see coverage of a meeting might not be upheld where it could be shown that official footage is made available in due course.

      What I have questioned though is whether a councillor should film secretly a meeting of a council to which he belongs in defiance of that council's current rules. Some might call it a public service, but others might question at what point do you draw the line on the rules you feel entitled to break.

      Since I do not disagree with the principle of transparency, including the filming of meetings, it is your comment above that is both unnecessary and irrelevant.

      Delete
    23. As I said above, it is clearly in the public interest, and the clearest form of public interest, given public officials are discussing the spending of public money.

      Human Rights of journalists and others to hold elected officials to account is not - at all - a grey area, but has been upheld by the highest courts in the land and in Europe for many years. The courts have actually upheld the right of persons acting in the public interest to break the law.

      Delete
    24. In this particular meeting no attempt was made to make available to the public a film of this very important subject. Michael has stated quite clearly that he was unable to attend due to him having young children (and I suspect there were many others that are in a similar situation).
      So by the actions of one councillor the subject matter was made available so others who were unable to attend in person could view it.
      What would be even better is live streaming with an opportunity for the public to get involved by asking real time questions of their elected representatives but then I suspect there would be protests about that from Councillors.
      Having to wait 5 years to vote at a ballot box to get rid of ineptitude is ridiculous in this day and age.

      Delete
    25. So are you saying, Barry, that in these times of austerity we should have the expense of holding elections more frequently? Have you even considered how long it takes a new councillor to settle into the role and complete some of the training necessary to be really useful in committee work?

      Hopefully, the transparency issue will be resolved, at least in part, when filming of meetings becomes mandatory. Meantime the issue is really, should a councillor break the rules of a council to which he belongs and where exactly does he draw the line on which rules he should contravene. It has the potential for anarchy, but that is what politicians of an extremist background, which you now seem to applaud, are about.

      Joe, bet if you ever did military service you would have been a right barrack room lawyer quoting your acts and advice you have been given on them. As a former Redcap I know how most of them finished up.

      Delete
    26. William I said nothing about more frequent elections just about holding councillors to account when they are incompetent.
      Only you say I applaud Ian I on the other hand speak face to face when I think something is wrong. Why do you not?
      Back to the central issue Michael said he wanted to see what was occurring at the committee but could not attend, the chair said nothing, about a visual record being available and so this has been Michael's only way of seeing what went on. This is then a good thing for Michael and others to view the proceedings. Would you contend this was a bad thing then?

      Delete
    27. William, I suggest you attack the substance of my posts or shut up. Because you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

      Delete
    28. Your posts have no "substance" Turner, merely laughable wittering on about people have a human right to video what they please, and that you get very prickly when people talk about subjects you have a bias towards, and have not approved of a subject change!

      Going on from the laughable suggestion that councilors should be asked questions in real time, by residents whilst in meetings, what about people who don't have access to the internet, how will they be catered for, or perhaps people who work when the meetings are held? Perhaps we should have taxis and an extra meeting for those that couldn't attend the 1st one?

      Delete
    29. Yes, Barry, I would contend that a councillor breaking the rules which he has signed up to is a bad thing. On the holding to account, there are many ways this can be done, but when you say it is ridiculous to have to wait five years it is not unreasonable to assume you mean at the ballot box.

      Turner, having gone on at length about Human Rights you now seem to be attacking my one of freedom of speech. Since when did you have the right to tell me to shut up and, if anyone is talking a load of horse manure around here, one does not have to look further than you?

      Delete
    30. Both John and William made valid points in their comments above and I agree with the one about a councillor breaking the rules. If it is OK to secretly film against the rules, would it be equally in order to refuse to sign the declaration of interests say? Maybe it would be alright in your book, Barry and Joe, to disclose confidential information given to a councillor by a ward resident because said councillor thought it was in the public interest to do so, or it might get him a bit of media time. The word anarchy is the right one.

      Before you come up with one of your meet Ian for a coffee suggestions, Barry, let me make you aware of something. He was once a member of the SWP and the SWP made donations to the PIRA. I served with the army in North Ireland where soldiers faced weapons and munitions that left wing organisations in UK helped fund. For me then that would be like sitting down with the enemy. Not my scene. No doubt you will claim you know nothing about that so check it out with Rick. He knows chapter and verse because his loyalties are very firmly in the right place.

      Delete
    31. William has always said it is up to Driver to meet not the other way around so the suggestion has little merit. And Allan are you saying Ian gave money to PIRA or is he just guilty by association with SWP. I suspect over the years many Socialist Worker Party members have wondered why their committee made such a donation and I suspect they disapproved of it as well. Committee decisions made without a mandate from their members doesn't make a member guilty of anything. And Allan you said once was a member do you know why he left?

      Delete
    32. William that is your central point and you make it all the time.

      Mine is why wasn't the committee meeting on the 31st filmed so that people like Michael could view the proceedings?

      Delete
    33. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    34. Barry, we are splitting hairs again here. Yes, I think we are both agreed meetings should be filmed so that those interested, like Michael, can view them, but, because TDC rules currently do not allow for that does not give any councillor the right to break them. You cannot have councillors, like people in any organisation, picking and choosing which rules they will comply with.

      Delete
    35. The difference is that this isn't just any organisation, it is a public body spending public money - hence the situation is exactly the opposite of what you suggest. If the council rules prevent public scrutiny they are unenforcable.

      Delete
    36. They may be open to criticism, but they are not unenforceable as some have found out to their cost on being evicted. We are not here talking about a general principle, but whether a councillor can be selective about which rules he accepts and which he breaks. If you cannot see that there is no point in further discussion and we must beg to differ.

      Delete
    37. Councillor William Epps I was in the Council meeting where there was No discussion about filming. Cllr Simon Moores tweeted he was going to have a say concerning the matter but wasn't able to.
      This council stated that no one would be able to film unless they had press accreditation and the permission of the Chair.
      When a council say they want to be open and transparent why do they seek to put obstacles in the way of open and transparency and this despite the current Government of the day saying the exact opposite.

      Delete
    38. So to be absolutely clear, if TDC made a constitutional rule that is clearly ridiculous - such as that women should not speak in council meetings - that, for you, would be enough to prevent women from speaking? Do you not understand the principle of open government and scrutiny? Why is upholding the unlawful counci consitutuional rules more important to you than proper public scrutiny of issues in the public domain of interest to the public and using public funds? That seems like a bizarre position to take.

      Delete
    39. Mr Turner, I fully understand the principle of open government and scrutiny and, as I have told both you and Barry before, I support it. However, at the moment and until the new rules become law, TDC are entitled to bar filming and that is not unconstitutional. I suggest we leave this now as we are getting nowhere fast. I support transparency, but not members of the council breaking their own rules. Barry, you have simple repeated old hat about a meeting you attended and which we have debated at length before. You may have time to keep going over old ground, but I am currently trying to get some answers for people in my ward about the new bin collections.

      One final point, though, I resent the repeated implication that I do not understand.

      Delete
    40. Barry James @ 12:19

      In response to your earlier comment, having just returned home and seen it, I would like to ask you what the attitude of William Epps to meeting up with Ian Driver has to do with me and why you should decide that a statement of mine has no merit. I regard that as a bit high handed on your part. I told you why I would not want to have coffee with him and might add that I tend to confine my coffee meet ups to the company of people I respect and like.

      The SWP has hardly got a reputation for support of the realm or respect for law and order so I think it not unreasonable to assume that people belonging to it are aware of that. It is my understanding that Driver went on from SWP to Militant then Scargill's party before finally joining Labour. He seems to have something of a history of being a left wing firebrand and party hopping, the latter he has continued locally with four parties or groups in a little over two years. Certainly not my scene, but if that is your idea of a responsible politician, that's your choice.

      Delete
    41. Allan where did I condemn or condone his behaviour?

      Delete
    42. Barry, why do you think I should answer your new question when you have chosen to ignore mine. I repeat what has it to do with me what William thinks about meeting up with Driver?

      Where did I say you condemn or condone anybody's behaviour although, in the case of Driver, you seem to be consistently defending his breach of his own council rules on filming?

      Delete
    43. See on his own blog the hypocritical Driver is maintaining that rules should be obeyed. Are we to assume he means by everybody other than himself. He does come over as the epitome of negativity and it would be interesting to know if there has ever been anything he supported or did not complain about. Imagine having a whole council of Drivers all shouting at each other and protesting over everything or the unseemly scrum whenever there was a reporter or cameraman to attract the attention of.

      Delete
    44. Allan my take is filming should be streamed live for all TDC meetings both Full Council, Committee and Cabinet. When I think he does something I ring him not type messages into blogs.
      The point is the filming not complaining about a cllrs conduct.

      There are a few people on here that take every opportunity to attack him which obscures the debate.

      Delete
    45. You mean, James, that your point is filming. Seems to me that several other people regard the point as being a councillors conduct. Lost at your comment about ringing him, what has that to do with a debate on a blog where we can all join in or do you expect us to hack your phone? Surely the heading of Michael's post includes Driver as part of the subject matter.

      Delete
    46. The council's rules are simply made up for the benefit of the senior civil servants and coiuncillors. No credible council would deny filming of meetings by the public. Parliament and now the Court of Appeal allow it. Just attempts at secrecy as they are simply so incompetent. Full FOI of salaries, pensions, cars, expenses etc is also required published monthly.

      Delete
    47. Thank you for the usual shite, Tim. Haven't you got another record you could play.

      Delete
    48. "OK the site was an eyesore and blighted the High Street but surely planning laws must be obeyed and properly and promptly enforced"

      From Drivers blog.

      So, that's clear then, Driver will now be deciding which rules are to be followed, and be enforced, and which should be ignored, glad we got that cleared up!

      Delete
  12. The video worries me on two fronts. First, Cllr Driver is a Councillor, and presumably accepts that he should abide by the rules of the council, whether or not they conform with Government guidance - which is just that, guidance. If Pickles gets legislation to say that councils must allow filming, well and good. Until then, Cllr Driver is refusing to comply with the rules that the council has agreed - at full Council. He had the opportunity to oppose and vote against it at that point. I am worried about any councillor who picks and chooses which rules apply to him, smacks of anarchy.

    Secondly, at one stage Cllr Driver says quite clearly on the video that he will decide what is in the public interest. This is a very interesting comment. Whether he likes it or not, (and whether we like it or not) the council has to comply with national legislation, and the public interest test when applied does not rely on the sole opinion of a bandwagon riding individual.

    When I watched the video, I got the impression that Driver was attempting to bully his colleagues and council officers into doing something that was potentially unlawful. And, I think we've had enough of that at TDC, haven't we?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think it is entirely appropriate that an elected councillor decides what is in the public interest. In my opinion, that is exactly what we elect them to do. I am far, far more concerned by the concept of an unelected official, who may have a vested interest in maintaining secrecy, deciding what is and is not in the public interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might agree with you if I were confident that a single councillor would act truly in the public interest, and not merely in his own.

      I do believe that Cllr Driver's heart is in the right place, and that he is committed to the people of Ramsgate - and that is excellent. What I do question are his methods, which appear to be bullying, anarchistic, mischievous, and possibly self-serving. I would have more confidence if he were to try and work within the 'machine', to reform it, and to make it work correctly. By alienating everyone at the Council - elected members and non-elected officials - he is encouraging them to circle the wagons and fight against him. This is damaging for everyone who lives and cares about Thanet, and will potentially perpetuate this disgusting secrecy.

      I do not believe that he can act as Ramsgate's answer to St George in slaying the TDC dragon.

      Delete
    2. Isn't that the argument that Ezekiel used to use? That he knew what was in the public interest?

      Delete
    3. That's democracy for you. Responsibility for electing Ezekiel lay with the Tory voters of Cliftonville. Responsibility for electing Driver lies with the Labour voters of Ramsgate. Ezekiel's seat was taken by UKIP and so, the Tory party paid a heavy price for allowing Ezekiel to claim that he was acting in the public interest when he was doing nothing of the sort. We will find out at the next election whether the voters of Ramsgate approve or disapprove of Driver. However, he has a wide base of support and will be hard to beat on the issues. I mean, what will you say when you get up on the platform against him? That you approved of live exports? That you think TDC did a marvellous job in dealing with SFP? That you think TDC was right to use public money to subsidise Transeuropa for three years? That you think it's OK for officers of the council to make decision without telling elected councillors about it and it's OK for officers to refuse to give information to an elected councillor when asked to do so? If you think you can beat him on that platform you must be living in cloud cuckoo land. Whether you like it or not, Driver is building up a solid history of being on the right side of the argument and he has made sure that his views were openly expressed in the public domain. It really isn't going to cut the mustard if you pop up three months before the election saying: "I didn't really think that TDC should have signed a new deal with SFP but I didn't say anything and I voted in favour because I'm loyal to my party." Again, Driver has you beat hands down because he jettisoned his party as soon as it became apparent that they weren't acting in the public interest.

      Delete
    4. You're right. That is democracy. You may well be right that Driver has made sure that he's on the side of the right and that he will be re-elected.

      But, no councillor is an island. No councillor can get things done - I mean really get things done - if he has no support from the other councillors or non-elected officials. This is my main problem with him.

      Don't get me wrong - I want to see Royal Sands get kicked into touch. I want to see a thriving harbour and port. I want to see a council that respects its councillors - and more importantly its council tax payers. I think that Driver's right in a lot of things that he says and writes. But the law of unintended consequences teachers us that too bullish an attitude or too bullying a personality ain't going to get things done. Rather, it will by putting people's backs up, ensure that things aren't done.

      TDC needs to be re-invented. It's not currently fit for purpose. But Driver is not the answer.

      Delete
    5. Driver already tested public support in the county council elections and found it wanting. Just where will he stand in Ramsgate, a Labour ward or a Tory one? In the former I would suggest he will get thrashed and in a Tory one, if such exists anymore in Ramsgate, it will probably go to UKIP.

      Perhaps he should stand in Broadsairs, Bradstowe Ward, where he lives so we can all have a good laugh when he loses his deposit.

      Delete
    6. 4.43pm, what excellent points. Perhaps we should turn thanet into a Mayoral dictatorship with Driver in charge? At least we'll know he's always right.

      Delete
    7. funny this should get into Driver bashing instead of filming. How about remaining on task

      Delete
    8. If you look at the heading of this post it says 'Pleasurama Cllr Driver etc' and not exclusively filming. Thus Driver is part of the thread and there are several comments singing his praises as well as those 'bashing' him as you put it. Perhaps you should pay more attention before you criticise others.,

      Delete
  14. The alleged letter from Pretty Solicitors has been promised to the Committee we just have to hope that the officers will honour their promise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are they connected to shelias wheels....shock horror how un pc procede imediatly to the council chamber and attend 233 diversity training courses . These courses that draw excitement, enthusiasm and participation to such a level that if you find a big enough sheep you can pull the wool over most peoples eyes, but unfortunately they will not replenish the council coffers which have departed on the high seas for sunnier climes.

      Delete
  15. Pleasurama again is just TDC delaying everything: the senior civil servants still get paid for inaction. If only their pensions could be cancelled and a public sector blacklist for gross misconduct created! FOI has simply been ignored or does anyone know the salaries and staffing levels at TDC and KCC by dept?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See you are back, Tim, with your usual stuff about cancelling pensions and other legal activities under employment law. Still, guess it makes a change from arresting everyone.

      Delete
    2. Tim,

      I was wondering why it you were taking so long to comment, I feared something had happened to you. When you have finished dealing with other peoples pensions and salaries perhaps someone should have a look at your Charity: the donations you receive, expenditure, bank act, etc.

      Delete
  16. I was going to read through all of today's comments, but I've noticed it's descended into the usual "Hello Tim" nonsense so I think I'll read a book instead!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peter, actually it was quite an interesting debate, even if some people are pedantically repetitive, until the Tim bit right at the end here, but can you be sure it is not somebody talking to himself.

      Delete

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.