Friday, 22 July 2011

The council war on the local blogs update, carnival publicity and more pictures some pictures of Margate and a ramble.

Sorry there haven’t been many posts this week, I have been busy, with other things today is market day here in Ramsgate so my bookshop  is too busy for me to get on with anything much apart from write this post, which I expect will be fairly fragmented.

First the press release business, if you don’t know what this is about, here is the link to the previous post on this subject

The history of this press release thing goes back quite a long time, during 2008 I made various attempts to get the council to publish their press releases, in a timely manner, with the associated pictures – which are paid for by us – on their website with proper feeds.

In November of 2008 I decided it would take a long time for the council to achieve this and started publishing them on this blog.

I continued trying to get the council to do this, my recommendation to the council was that they set up there own blog, on blogger and embed it in the council’s website as this wouldn’t cost the council anything, would allow for the free hosting of large image files but most of all produce the most advanced form of feeds.

For some reason that I have never understood the council decided not to do this and instead tried to improve the way the put press releases on their own website. Not surprisingly they weren’t as good at doing this, as Google are who operate blogger.

By May 2009 I decided that the council press releases, many of which have a “making more tractors” flavour to them were making this blog boring, so I set up the Thanet Press Release Blog, this link takes you to the posts there for this month last year

I added the latest planning applications, the latest documents about council meetings and other press releases, like the ones from the Labour and Conservative groups. I also deleted abusive and libellous comments, in fact did the council’s job for them.

Between then and last year the council have made various attempts to improve their publication of press releases on the council’s website, but they don’t seem to have managed to get this to work consistently and reliably.

Then in June of this year the council decided they would stop sending me their press releases, to me this was pretty strange as, as far as I could see, I was the only person publishing them in their entirety, with the images and with proper and reliable feeds.

As far as I can see on the one hand the council say they are spending about £100,000 per year putting information in the media and on the other they are stopping me from doing this for nothing, for them, just in case anyone reads it and they have to answer questions about this information.

There were some anonymous comments and one from Simon Moores on my previous post about this, supporting the council’s position see but none of them seem to be saying that they don’t want the press releases, council photographs, new planning applications etc published and fed properly on the internet.

Anyway I bunged off a response to the council’s reply, here it is:

Dear Business Information & Improvement  Manager.

Further to your response to my foi request 14/06/2011 entitled “Freedom of Information Request 1” please could you clarify some points and respond to my recommendations.

The numbers refer to the numbers in the original request and may be helpful for clarification. 

9 As the council incurs no extra cost for adding non accredited media to their mailing list, could you please restore non accredited media sources to your list?
9 Could you please clarify what managing this list involves?
9 In terms of enquiries resultant from press releases and other council information, I am assuming that the number of resulting enquiries is going to be directly proportional to the amount of coverage that the press releases and information receive.
6 As the council is spending £105,256.10 on advertising, it would appear that they would expect some response from this.
Could you please clarify the situation for responses resulting from press releases?
By this I mean that in a general sense the council is spending a considerable amount on issuing press releases and publicity, but also seem to be trying to limit the circulation of those press releases and publicity to prevent people from reading them and responding to them.
15 As evidently the decision to stop supplying non-accredited media with press releases wasn’t made at the request of elected members how was this decision made?

Best regards Michael
And have had this reply:

Ref No:28691 / 1808318

Dear Mr Child

Thank you for your communication of 21/07/2011  requesting further information about the councils press release policy.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days. 

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me.  Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information & Communications Manager

I suppose that if they take another month to reply this is going to be a long conversation.

On to Ramsgate Carnival, I managed to locate the pictures I took of it in 2008, a series of linked webpages, links at the top, here they are they seem to be a bit on the light side, would they have faded in the computer?

It also occurred to me that the council not promoting the carnival on their website, se the last post , could lead to problems if they promote Margate Carnival and frankly a council not promoting any of the local carnivals does seem pretty strange, so I bunged off the following to them:

Subject: Re: Carnival
Date: 20/07/2011 16:28:17 GMT Daylight Time
Reply To: 

Thanks **** I will add your comments (without your name) to the blog post about the carnival where I mentioned that I had asked the question.

It did just occur to me that if the council promotes one town’s carnival without promoting another it could cause problems.

My take on this is that if an event justifies the presence of the tourist information staff then they should ensure that it is publicised on the council’s websites.

Best regards Michael 

Subject: Re: Carnival
Date: 21/07/2011 12:10:40 GMT Daylight Time
Reply To: 

Dear Michael,

The carnivals are publicised on our Tourism website Visit Thanet:

The carnival events are also publicised on the Visit Kent website.

Kind regards,


I have a few pictures on the camera card, here is the first lot mostly Margate yesterday, I will ramble on about these if I get a chance. 

On to shopping in Margate, on arrival I went straight to the little café off the side of the High Street, you know the one with the sofas upstairs, its been there so long that I don’t think I have ever mentioned it before.

Having had a cup of tea, on to the shopping, why would you need to go shopping in Margate? Is a question I have been asked so I have put my purchases on the till desk and taken photographs of them, I will endeavour to explain.    

The first one was a paintbrush from Lovelys in Northdown Road, it wasn’t a very big brush and this is the only place you can try them out first.

To understand the buying of a paintbrush you are best to think in terms of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. 

I then bought two postcards of the 1951 Ramsgate Festival of Britain illuminations, £3.50 each, a reasonable price for scarce cards, I thought.  

This 1834 framed print of North Foreland Lighthouse for £12, I am pretty sure it’s one I haven’t got.  

This picture of Margate Beach for £3 all of these pictures were bought in the old town, which is having something of a revival.  

Some comments on the pictures that I took yesterday, link above.

The Joke Shop from the Arlington arcade has move into the lower High Street, with an associated Bong Shop section same counter two different shops, one selling jokes and the other equipment for the use of illegal recreational drugs.

Presumably this separation is because one is not a joke, or a different sort of joke, or possibly related in some way to appreciating the art in the Turner Contemporary – the stripes man, the mirrors – all very 60s, Metro revolution.

The Vincent Cottage Company have opens where the tourist information office was check out their website for a red distressed wooden heart, see

This brings a new dimension to cottageing in Margate.

While on the subject does anyone know what happened the Margate’s Gay Pride event, I thought it ought to be on about now, you may remember this time last year that as soon as I complained to the council that they were being homophobic, by not promoting it on their website it appeared there, as if by magic.        


  1. Michael you best send TDC a brush so they can brush over the fact they spend 105 Thousand of ratepayers pounds advertising the rubbish you were doing for free.I surgest they look at that figure because free versus £105,000 is a big jump.

  2. The thing that confuses me is this. We have fifty-something Councillors in Thanet. They all have the right to question officers and to see stuff (if they bother to ask). How come it is left to the awkward squad to expose the enormous amounts of money being wasted and the way public money is being used to back things without bothering to ask the public? What is the point of having all of these Councillors if they aren't doing anything?

  3. Because the 'Awkward squad' are really a bunch of people deluded by their own sense of self importance...and by their own delusions of conspiricy theory !!!!!

  4. The awkward squad are the ones who are asking for information that should be readily available, and pick up on things that the elected members seem to be too blinkered to see. I hope that Margate FC don't have to wait as long as the maritime museum at Ramsgate to get a lease of more than 25 years. quick as a flash its margate as they say a nods as good as a wink to a blind horse with rooled up trousers wearing an apron.

  5. Hi Michael. The reason that TDC is trying to cut you out of the loop is simple. In order to get favourable publicity they promise the official news media that they will get the press releases first. It's the only tool they have to get the papers to print their version of events.

    In Thanet we have a major problem with the local press. It has long been incapable of seeing the wood for the trees and has consistently toed the party line (that is, whichever party is in power). The local pres is also smitten with "business" and will slavishly print, what are effectively, adverts for local firms under the guise of news.

  6. It seems lord flashheart Cameron's "we won't cozy up to the press no more" bleatings have yet to filter through the cloth ears of local councils such as Thanet.

    Big society, localism, empowering the people. Great ideas Dave, but utterly pointless when combined with the selfish, cover-your-own-arse intellectual might of messrs bayford, moores and the new chief exec (anyone any idea of their name?)

  7. i understand cosy friends of the new chief exec are being given posts when the jobs aren't advertised externally. If the posts within TDC were looked at and the positions of people in the finance directorate {which incidentally included HR} a few questions may be asked.
    But unfortunately the elected members tend not to ask awkward questions.

  8. I think some of them rely on the income from their allowances and expenses. If you can't swim it's best not to rock the boat. However, if the electorate had any sense they wouldn't be sending non-swimmers out in the rescue craft.

  9. Pop down to Margate Winter Gardens if you get a chance Michael, there's currently a fascinating exhibition to celebrate the building's 100th anniversary.

  10. Peter I will try, we are now in the school holidays, this increases my time commitments to my children and also means my bookshop is busier.


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