I have finally managed to get through listening to all of the recording of this meeting and now have some idea of what it was about.
Partly for this reason and partly because comments on the previous post about this issue are around the 200 mark, which is where blogger comments stop working properly I am writing this new post, so if you wish to comment more about it please do so here and not on the previous post, that is, if you want your comments to be read.
The main contentious issue seems to be what the independent members of the standards committee had to say about the perception of the council – let me make this clear, not the way the independent members thought the council was but the way the independent members said the council appeared to be to a lot of members of the public – which was pretty bad.
Here is the link to the independent members report http://democracy.thanet.gov.uk/documents/s33886/Independent%20Members%20Report%20on%20Standards.html?CT=2 this is the document that all the fuss in being made about.
The key statement being: “It is suggested by the independent members of the Standards Committee that the Council is held in low regard by the public. An, admittedly unscientific, assessment of comments made (in the press, local bloggers, twitter, personal conversations, by local interest groups etc) suggest that there is a local suspicion of secrecy, corruption and distance between the Council as it is perceived in the offices in Cecil Square, the reality of people’s lives and the needs of the district.”
What happened was that the council appointed four unpaid members of the public who are not councillors to the council standards committee and produced this pretty damming report about the way the council is perceived and the councillors who form the rest of this committee voted not to accept the report, which caused the independent members to resign. Note here; the sending back of a report for the group’s consideration really left the independent members no other realistic option but resignation.
Listening to the histrionic outpourings of some of the councillors at the committee was for me, more damming than the report, frankly if you live in Thanet you can hardly avoid becoming aware of the public’s opinion of the council.
Also listening to the councillors speaking what came over was that while the councillors agreed, for the most part, that public perception of the council was very poor, the councillors, for the most part, were not going to accept the independent members telling them this.
Confusing isn’t it, either the public perception of the council is good, in which place there is no problem, or it is bad in which case something needs doing about it, or it is an unknown in which case the council need to find out what the position is by asking members of the public a series of simple questions. Eg.
Do you think TDC performs well?
Do you think TDC communicates with the public well?
Do you think TDC is a corrupt council?
And the one that is the subject of an internet poll on ECR’s blog http://eastcliffrichard.blogspot.co.uk/ at the moment:
“Is Thanet council fit for purpose” the results at the time of writing are; yes 10 and no 128.
Much of the self pitying remarks made by some the councillors at the meeting blamed social media for this state of affairs, blogs twitter, facebook local papers and so on, something along the lines; of alas it isn’t twenty years ago.
Apart from the recording of this meeting, various press releases responding to the meeting have been issued.
This link takes you to council’s official press release http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/standards-committee-meeting-thursday-21.html
This link takes you to the Labour (majority group in hung council) group’s press release http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/tdc-standards-committee-21st-november.html
This link takes you to the Conservative (main minority group in hung council) group’s press release http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/statement-from-tdc-conservative-group_3447.html
I will continue with this post as an when I get time