Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thanet District Council’s new leadership and a few other rambles.

Having been a bit tied up with the Pleasurama drama, Lady Montefiore’s Cookery Book and other things this week, I haven’t had a chance to comment on anything else much.

So first a few thoughts on the council’s new leadership, the first being that Bob will have to stop being chair of scrutiny as the two jobs are mutually exclusive.

I think one encouraging thing here is that Bob is a person who will be able to work well with the Labour group, as he has already done as chair of scrutiny, so we may see a bit less of the party wrangling that many of us find unpleasant and is damaging to constructive debate.

Knocking a few ideas around I do speculate as to why and wonder if the deal is that Bob will stand down as a Conservative KCC councillor so that Sandy can stand in his place.

One senior Conservative councillor I disused this with said that although he wasn’t aware of any deal, it would make sense for Sandy to offer his considerable experience to KCC.

One senior council officer I discussed this with who had read Bobs quote:

“Thanet faces unique challenges but it also offers equally unique opportunities, through its coastline, tourism, green energy, its airport, harbours and much more. I have a number of new ideas which I hope will contribute to making Thanet a better place for us all.”

Said he didn’t like the sound of a leader with new ideas and at least they all knew where they were with Sandy.

My understanding is that the thing that worries the senior officers the most is that Bob is capable of working with pretty much anyone and getting down to the job in hand so he would probably be able to unite the best talent from the councillors of all parties, meaning we would be effectively governed democratically, rather than by an elite of senior council officers.

One thing that is particularly damaging is the inter departmental wrangles within the council, the Maritime Museum is a case in point here, where the leisure department made an offer to Preston Steam Trust of a 99 year lease and then the estates department moved in and forced the council to renege on the offer.

Now we have a situation where no council officer appears to be dealing with the issue, or indeed knows how to and so Ramsgate looks like losing its museum because council officers have dug themselves a hole that they can’t get of, without someone admitting they have made mistakes.

This is very difficult when the administrations stance is that all senior officers are infallible.

The clock on Ramsgate’s Clock House has stopped, so I don’t know if this is in any significant of the ongoing situation, possibly a signal of some sort that the end is nigh.

My understanding of the Pleasurama cliff façade issue at the moment is that the developer can’t start boring for the piles until the structure has been underpinned, estimates in the region £4m to £6m would seem likely, looking on the bright side one could say that the council will be providing much need work for the construction industry.

Of course the council’s stance here is still that there is nothing wrong with the foundations, it will be interesting to see how long they can keep this up, I have made it abundantly clear to them that if they don’t do something about the heavy vehicles going near to edge of the top of the cliff by Monday, the HSE will become involved.

With Easter coming on an interesting question now is, who moved the stone? It obviously wouldn’t be in the developers interests to cover up defects in the council owned cliff façade, the thought of the council sending someone out to cover up the hole is interesting, I wonder if any paperwork was generated that would be available for an foi request.

While on the subject of foi requests, it would seem to be that the development agreement that I haven’t seen, so I wouldn’t know what it contains, in fact may contain a planning agreement that the council have been withholding from me, when perhaps the ought not to have done.

An interesting problem here is that you can’t request a document unless you know it exists, however concealing a document that in fact exists, by saying it doesn’t exist is a bit of a novel one, particularly when juxtapositioned with concealing foundations that don’t exist.

Perhaps the council’s rulebook was written by Edgar Allan Poe, when dealing with the council the words:

As I was going up the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today...
Oh how I wish he'd go away!

come to mind quite often.

An interesting observation about politics locally is that Steve Ladyman and Laura Sandys both are behaving in civil fashion to each other, and I am hoping that this grownup approach to politics will filter down into the rest of local politics.

I may ramble on as the day continues, please try to keep any comment civil and courteous.

The link is to today’s pictures


  1. Michael, I will underpin the cliff face for £3.5m. Where do I send my tender.

    Oh No! I am not on the council's list of "approved" contractors.

    Oh well!. Another £0.5m to fill brown envelopes.

    Reminds me of your tale about 3 contractors tendering in Thanet
    Or was that ECR?

  2. Michael, I will underpin the cliff face for £3.5m. Where do I send my tender?

    Oh No! I am not on the list of "approved" contractors.

    Well ! plus another £0.5M to fill brown envelopes.

    Reminds me of your tale of three contractors tendering in Thanet.
    Or was that ECR?

  3. Michael I hope my comments are civil and courteous. Why would senior officers be worried by a new leader? They still get the same pay and deny the same mistakes. I find it incredulous that the maritime museum issue is still ongoing maybe a new leader will have the guts to get something done. Another of your comment that you knew where you were with Sandy could you be more specific where that was because I happen to think we have been up a creek without a paddle all the time he was at the helm. But then that is my opinion.

  4. I'd heard that it was the new leader, as chair of scrutiny, that stopped the museum going ahead last year. Let's hope he can jump start it and we can look forward to having our heritage properly cared for and promoted?

  5. Readit I think the problem here is that once underpinned it still remains an unsupported chalk cliff, not really suitable for building a residential development 4 metres away from.

    I think the underpinning would probably make it sake to bore for the piles but doesn’t really take us where we want to get, a building safe for 1,000 people to live in for the useful life of the building.

    Don your comments are always civil and courteous, I was really only saying what people had said to me, I don’t really know the solution to the problems with our council, maybe an elected mayor, but that all depends on who you get as mayor.

    The fundamental problem in British politics is that the majority of voters vote along party lines, so we could easily get into a situation where we had a leader put up by one of the main parties that wasn’t good.

    Perhaps if we get a hung parliament at the election we may get some sort of electoral reform.

    19.12 I don’t think it is likely that the museum can be saved anymore and believe the problems stem from departmental differences within the council, as far as I understand it the museum problem goes to the new port and harbour committee next and that hasn’t ever met yet.

  6. The tale of three contractors in Thanet was an offering by Thanet Strife i think.


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