The last week’s blogging started with my pinch and a punch post that I do at the beginning of every month but the comment on that post was mostly about the foi act, something that has rather dominated my week.
Now when I come to dealing with our council I try very hard to make life easy for them and if I make a complaint or a foi request it will be because I have already tried to get them to deal with the matter in an informal and less expensive way.
Any of you who have been following this blog during the last week will know that my oldest foi request became the subject of a series of rather ludicrous emails between me and the council’s chief executive.
The main drift of the correspondence was that he said I had recieved a response to my request when I in fact hadn’t.
Click on the link to read the correspondence so far http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foi/id17.htm I have used nicknames for the officers involved based roughly on their weekly pay, the reason for this is that my correspondence – much of which is published on the internet – that relates to the Pleasurama saga extends back over a number of years.
During that time some council officers have said some pretty stupid things and because my high internet profile this means that when you google their names those stupid things come up. Obviously it is not my intention to damage some officer’s career because of some stupid thing that he said years ago about Pleasurama.
One thing that came up in this week’s correspondence was the business of if it was legal for me to publish that correspondence on the internet, recently the council have started putting a note on their emails – funnily enough even emails containing their press releases – to the effect that the email is not for publication or re distribution.
Obviously though when these emails are a response to a foi request the information contained in them is by definition a public document, even if the response is to say that they have fulfilled the request when they haven’t.
Now although some of this can be seen as quite humorous, the crux of the matter here is that the councils state of denial over the impossibility of aspects of the Pleasurama development, so that the main leisure site in Ramsgate remains a building site year in year out and in doing so does immeasurable damage to Ramsgate.
One aspect of the Pleasurama development that I found strange this week was that the workers digging the trench along harbour parade, discovered an old wall of dressed stone.
Well of course they stopped work as is the case now when building workers discover some historical artefact, I was told that when they contacted the council, the council officers didn’t want to know about it and didn’t even send out someone to look at it, but instead told the workers to smash it up and carry on laying their pipe.
Now I am not saying that the wall should have been preserved, what I am saying though is that it should have been properly and professionally identified before any decision was made.
I am pretty certain that this was part of the harbour wall that extended behind the stone yard, whatever it was it was very thick indeed, more on the scale of Hadrian than garden.
Obviously with my mistake over Tissot that I posted about during the week, I am not infallible when it comes to historical identification.
Another thing that rather dominated the blog this week was Margate’s silly walk, an aspect of this that I found particularly interesting was that apart from an elite few and the art students that were forced to take part, is the apparent lack of interest in this event based on web statistics.
Now the artist, if that is the right name for him, had two films made about the event and published on the internet, one was linked to the Turner Contemporary’s website and the other wasn’t.
Both of these films have are published with counters showing the number of times they have been viewed and even the days that those viewings took place.
Interestingly though the only days that they had any significant amounts of views was when I embedded the films in posts on this blog. Something I also find interesting is that for a short time one of the videos was embedded in the Turner Contemporary’s website – something that didn’t seem to increase the number of times that it was viewed significantly – it was soo removed from their site, I wonder why?
Sticking with the musical theme the wall seemed appropriate, for any of the youf of today watching the clip, school really was very like that back in the distant past when I was educated, for want of a better word.
Coming back again to the foi act and the council there have been several suggestions made recently that most of the information people have requested is unnecessary and that dealing with these requests is a waste of time and money. The council has to publish a log of these requests, if you know where to find it click on the link for it http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/freedom_of_information_disclosure_aug_sep_09.pdf
I should also add that one of the requests that related to the Pleasurama development was for the report that stated that it would not be safe to use driven piles in the construction of the development.
At the same time as they held this information the council announced that pile driving was to start imminently, I dread to think what would have happened if it had.