Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Thanet Under the Red Flag, government by the people for the people?


A week in politics is a long time, and by the end of tomorrow the new Labour leadership will have had a week to settle down, I will be tackling them about local issues, mostly Ramsgate issues, not because I think Ramsgate should have any preferential treatment, but because Ramsgate is where I am and it is the issues that I understand the best.

It does look as though the new administration are going to be a bit better at with the internet, I have already received and posted their press release about last night’s cabinet meeting, see http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/12/new-tdc-labour-cabinet-leading-by.html

Nothing yet from the opposition, perhaps they are yet to find their feet in this position, they don’t even seem to have posted details of their shadow cabinet.

Well I say nothing, there is the rather strange post on Cllr Simon Moores’s blog Thanet Life, see http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/12/touch-of-class.html saying that he received a notification from the new leader on sub standard stationary.

At first I thought this was supposed to be humorous, it seems that Simon craved Basildon Bond, which is I believe stationary used mostly by the lower middle classes.

At least it seems Simon knows his place, Clive Hart on the other hand is harder to judge, in terms of political manuscripts on lined paper I was a bit spoiled for choice. 


I may ramble on if I get time.  



A couple of other notes here:

First there has been a large influx of forged banknotes, especially £20 notes into Thanet, you can normally check that they are ok inconspicuously as the writing “BANK 0F ENGLAND” is raised on the real ones and you can feel it even in a dimly lit bar.

The other is that TDC have just fed a two week old press release and it has just appeared on Simon’s blog in the two week ago position as though nothing has happened in between, well I thought it was funny.    

53 comments:

  1. Michael

    I think you may be pushing the imagination of readers to contrast a note from Abraham Lincoln with a letter from Clive Hart!

    I do think you are being intentionally mischievous as usual and my reference to 'Basildon Bond' was an attempt at irony that clearly lost you but let's try another Lincoln quote as a riposte, as it may fit better in the circumstances:

    "I can make more generals, but horses cost money."

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  2. As a southerner first and foremost, I was afourteen afore I knew damn yankee was two words, so the comparison does nothing to elevate the new leader in my view.

    Bob(E Lee) Bayford was more to my taste, but plenty of sarcastic innuendo eminating from Michael, whilst still banging the simple Ramsgate apolitical trader drum.

    On the opposition it might be a nice change to have a couth and orderly one instead of the shouting rabble we saw at meetings before. Time will tell.

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  3. "I do think you are being intentionally mischievous as usual"

    What an obnoxious comment as usual but then thats Simons style if he is loosing the argument or is wrong but certainly not yours Michael.

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  4. 14;17 Exactly what argument was Simon losing? I read it all as a fairly light hearted exchange with a little bit of mischief making on each side.

    That is the trouble with most of you lefties, you have no sense of humour which is why the world is such a miserable place when you are in charge.

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  5. Simon, sorry I missed your irony, I rather like the idea of sacking someone and impressing them at the same time. When it comes to lined paper manuscripts, this sort of ephemera is just another aspect of secondhand bookselling, believe me when I say you pretty much chose your politician and subject.

    I was trying more to be intentionally humorous, to lighten the load here and perhaps get you to consider operating as an effective opposition. An account of yesterdays meeting wouldn’t go a miss don’t you know. A few Conservative councillors coming to have a look at Ramsgate and winning back a few hearts and minds wouldn’t go amiss, some of the things that the Conservative administration before yours did are perceived her as pure malice. Maritime Museum, historic ship pontoons, well I won’t rub it in, but you have had seven months.

    I would say that the fact we have a well liked Conservative MP who I often encounter around the town, suggests that we may not be entirely hostile.

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  6. Michael,

    They could all learn a lot from Laura Sandys - the epitome of a good constituency MP.

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  7. I agree with you there John, Sandy is amazing. I was impressed when she got elected as a MP at The Winter Gardens; when I walked past her (as a then doorman) a few minutes afterwards she still took the time to say hello & ask how I am. Roger Gale is superb too, a true gentleman.

    I shudder to imagine what they must think of the mostly squabbling & petty TDC Tories.

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  8. I'm really not one for cheap political stunts Michael but as their press release says; "Labour will lead by example!"

    Take the football club as an example. It's a simple decision based on asset disposal policy and leases. all the well-intentioned striding around in the world won't change the results of a lengthy public consultation and the requirement to make a final decision or indeed change the deadline date.

    This simply gives the appearance of doing something, while deftly avoiding the decision at Cabinet last night, where it was removed from the agenda, after months of work. I'm pretty certain that Labour would have had a pre-meet to establish their position on this before the change in leadership last week and now we will never know what that was...

    Before you know it, they will striding around purposefully looking at other things too!

    Could be a whole new weblog for you.. "Striding About in Thanet"

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  9. Simon you have to appreciate I and probably most other people just don’t have your inside view, don’t really know what information a cabinet would have been privy, that a shadow cabinet wouldn’t.

    Certainly with the football club there just isn’t an answer that will please both sides, so the new cabinet is bound to be criticised, whatever they do.

    I suppose there is a sense where this would be beneficial to the conservative group, I would say though this is one where the best compromise needs finding.

    What would be most helpful is if you could really explain the issues involved to those of us who just don’t understand them, for me it is splitting the park in half that worries me not the rest of the development that is concentrated around there existing club. The fenced pitch and the new car parking that seem to stick out and fragment the park, perhaps just public pathways through would make the difference.

    But yes I do hope that you will provide some quality online constructive opposition, not just vague notions that they are hopeless, something that is plainly not the case.

    Essentially they have produced a press release and you haven’t, it would look better perhaps if you did.

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  10. Michael, why is it plainly not the case that the new administration are hopeless. They could well be for all you know and only time will tell.

    Certainly the scribbled note is not an encouraging start other than is the totally unnecessary walk in the park. Guess the latter will delay making a decision which will upset a whole host of people either way.

    Only time will tell.

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  11. Tom, think the problem here is that I just don’t have enough experience of them to judge them, when we last had a Labour council, I hadn’t an interest in local politics.

    I certainly can’t make a judgment based on using lined paper, you have to appreciate I have dealt in manuscripts of one sort or another for years, this sort of thing only really says not middle class to me, Thatcher wouldn’t have done this, Churchill would and did.

    Less likely from redbrick than Oxbridge and so on, the note seems to be in a number of hands and suggests producing a document in a short space of time, without office resources.

    Would I have thought better of the man if he had assumed he would win and prepared the documents himself; in advance? Defiantly no.

    Should the council officers have prepared the documents? In a large company the MD’s PA would probably no longer have their post had this happened.

    When I last worked in the public sector it was in universities, where one wrote ones own notes on anything that came to hand, even undergraduates, so that isn’t any help.

    So the truth is I don’t have the experience to make any judgments on the new administration based on the available information, i.e. their political opponents and some anonymous people don’t think they can walk and chew gum at the same time, combined with them using lined paper.

    Were I in Clive Hart’s position would I have definitely delayed anything as divisive as the football club application? Yes I would and to my mind this shows common sense, not stupidity.

    You post under presumably your own name, but I don’t know you or what you do, without this information I can hardly say. “This man Clarke led The Easer Rising so he must know a thing or two about politics.” So that isn’t much help.

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  12. Can I suggest there are slightly more important issues to resolve than football pitches and the like; one being next year’s budget and no doubt a consequential rise in the precept? All to be decided within six weeks!

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  13. 21.55 it’s frozen this year so they can’t put it up, making the subject a bit of a non starter.

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  14. Michael

    The Hartsdown decision is pretty cut and dried and explained without any ambivalence in the public consultation documents with supporting drawings.

    It hinges on the application for a 125 year lease to build the hotel and which would require a departure from the asset disposal policy for the related-areas of the park applied for by MFC which presently could only go as far as 24.99 years

    I was given to understand that the club were seeking a final decision by next week but I'm sure you will find more detail on their website.

    Pierrmont's decision also came off Cabinet this week and so I need to check on the circumstances there in regard to deadlines.

    As for the budget, I rather suspect they will go with the Conservative plan but with some small amendments "Talked-up" to conceal the bigger numbers. Anyone want to make a bet?

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  15. Any chance sending it to full council could trigger an expensive public enquiry?

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  16. Michael,

    You seem so struck by the media savvy of the local labour group, I though I may attempt a gentle mocking of their style and approach, which you so often automatically believe. So here goes....

    NEW TDC LABOUR CABINET - LEADING BY EXAMPLE

    Monday evening’s extraordinary TDC Cabinet was the first to take place since Labour gained control of Thanet District Council last week and immediately, there was a very different style and approach to matters.

    The cabinet was made up of a group of three men and two women, an offer was made to include two other political leaders in a mission to be visible without actually achieving anything, and on the same item the whole cabinet team decided to visit the area concerned to gain in depth practical knowledge of Hartsdown Park, rather than make a decision.

    Council Leader and Cabinet Chairman Cllr Clive Hart could have said:

    "There are three very significant changes in the Labour teams approach to cabinet business.

    Firstly, I'm delighted to be supported in our cabinet by two men and two women. This is more important than any other consideration, such as skills and experience, and explains why I have left significant experienced hands such as Richard Nicolson on the back benches.

    Secondly, whenever it is necessary to avoid making a decision, we will go out into the community concerned to see and hear for ourselves exactly why we should do nothing.

    Lastly, whilst maintaining ultimate control over cabinet, we will pretend to include the other two political groups in fact finding projects so that we can claim to be operating in a cross party manner, something we screamed for in opposition.

    Our approach will be as devious, underhand, opaque and exclusive as is practical and possible".

    Note: At item 7 of Monday's TDC Cabinet agenda, the only decision made was for the cabinet team to visit the Hartsdown and Tivoli Park site to see and hear pertinent matters regarding the proposal. The Leaders of the other two political groups were invited to join the site visit which will take place at 2pm on Thursday 22nd December. Perhaps, in a spirit of true democracy, Margate football fans and those opposed to the proposal should attend as well to make their feelings known

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  17. Chris, how do you feel about an elected leader? You seem to heave pretty much spelled out the reasons for needing one here.

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  18. Oh dear. I fear our new Opposition will be just as ineffectual as the last one - just in a different way. Simon will just keep banging on about their intellectual inferiority - by which he really wants us to recognise his own intellectual superiority - and obviously Chris Wells is kept muzzled in a cupboard until desperation dictates his controlled release. Maybe once they've got over their sulk they might be able to do some good, which in the long run will be the best way to get back into office.

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  19. Oh dear Tim Clarke, no sense of humour? Stuck in the humbug season? This was described quite openly as poking a bit of fun at Michael's niaive belief in information by press release...I could perhaps do one in the style of John Worrow, campaigner! Self publicist! Loves women, children, small animals, and Birchington! The survivor!

    Possibly facing the decisions of monday night's meeting, any incoming canbinet might have deferred most of them whilst they get their feet under the table. Is it not better to acknowledge that, rather than publishing a press release which tries to make that sensible pragmatic decision sound virtuous and setting a style of governance?

    Michael appears to prefer the latter; I was just poiting out the niaivite of his belief.

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  20. And your thoughts on an elected leader Chris?

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  21. Michael, a very long and wandering response to my suggestion that you cannot say at this stage the new administration will not be hopeless.

    Whatever my expertise, or lack of it in politics, I simply made the point that you are prejudging their capabilities without a shred of evidence to support that judgement.

    As I said then and now repeat, only time will tell, but, as both Dr. M and Cllr. Wells have pointed out, there are some worrying early indicators.

    For me proclaiming the PC make up of the new cabinet is enough to cause concern. If they wanted to say something, why not outline the skills those new members bring to the job, not the sexual balance.

    Oh, and perhaps sometime you could define for me 'middle class.'

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  22. On reflection, I support Chris's comment in regard to the broader concept of reaching out to the people.

    OK.. let's have a cabinet meeting next Thursday afternoon at Hartsdown (and I will blog this later, perhaps Michael will pick it up too?) We've had months of public consultation and a public meeting as well but let's hear what people who have the time to come out, have to say about the future of open spaces in Thanet.

    The Conservative administration (with my then responsibility for the environment) reviewed the asset disposal procedure and the consequences involved adding safeguards for Hartsdown Park, a nature park for the Westbrook undercliff and so on.

    I have no idea what Labour's view is because they never presented one in opposition beyond challenging points of motion or the full council debacle over the Montefiore tennis courts last December, which I had instructed removed from the asset disposal process in July.

    So a walk in the park and a little striding around purposefully might shake out some cobwebs!

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  23. Chris, first for clarification for anyone else following this, Chris also sent me his comment as press release by email, which I published on the press release blog.

    I wasn’t sure if it counted as an official Conservative group press release so I didn’t tag it that way.

    I think a problem for me is that there seems to be some general assumption that I am some sort of red under bed, swallowing up Labour propaganda and to the Conservative group, the enemy.

    My take on some of the things that have happened in Ramsgate under the previous Conservative administration is that these actions have been perceived as acts of spite, aimed at a town with predominately Labour councillors.

    The Maritime Museum and the Harbour Lights Café are examples where the information involved could be construed as sensitive, Pleasurama well the Conservative group failed to determine the development agreement at cabinet, against the advice of the head of finance, now the chief executive, I wouldn’t push my hand on this one, or I will publish the cabinet pinks online, but one you could explain is the Historic Ship Pontoon.

    See it as a starting point, an act of faith if you like, for those of still basking in the naivety of political virginity.

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  24. Shadow Cabinet Chris Wells and Dr Moores where is the invisible man the Roc Doc? keeping his head down as usual. Time for a change anfd for new blood,as for Chris Wells comments on Worrow, what can one say? best nothing as Worrow has betrayed his voters and the party he professed to be loyal too.
    Tis the season to be jolly!!! roll on 2012

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  25. Tom sorry, I can touch type, I was attempting to draw caricatures of the new leadership, and this was not going that well, so it was partly displacement activity.

    Your premise that “the new administration will not be hopeless.” Is an interesting way of presenting an argument, are you familiar with the school of apophatic theology (from Greek ἀπόφασις from ἀπόφημι - apophēmi, "to deny") also known as negative theology or via negativa (Latin for "negative way") Arguments are presented in this way, discussing what isn’t, rather than what is, it didn’t catch on that well.

    Strictly speaking the difficult ones are upper and lower, to use either of those words instead of upper middle, aristocracy, toff, or working class would define one as middle class. But I suggest you watch the video with the assumption that the comedians involved are all middle class, don’t worry it won’t make it any less funny.

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  26. With Michael excepted: Many of these comments are arcane and difficult to follow. I suppose this is deliberate. It's all a bit esoteric.

    I agree with anonymous.

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  27. Personal view, Michael, but I think the earlier vision of a three tier class system is long gone.

    Now we have perhaps the remnants of an aristocracy; celebrity class; working class (all those of us who earn a crust somehow)and a benefits dependent non-working class. There is no middle class, a relic of post WWI when bank clerks bought their only little houses in places like Beckenham.

    Oh, and the reference to the new administration clearly not being hopeless was first made by you. I merely pointed out that you have no way of knowing that - they may or may not be, but it remains to be seen.

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  28. To Tom Clarke,

    You say, "Oh, and the reference to the new administration clearly not being hopeless was first made by you. I merely pointed out that you have no way of knowing that - they may or may not be, but it remains to be seen."

    Tom, I take your point. But some might believe that one can advance the course of freedom by never giving a politician an even break.

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  29. Simon I suppose you are all too aware of my naivety, so are you saying that this was an official Conservative Group press release?

    That would make four in a year instead of three Ewen Cameron, John Worrow, do and this new one.

    I understand that this business with the football club relates to them having a deadline this year and that the previous Conservative administration’s solution was to send it to the next full council meeting, sometime time February, is that correct?

    This would then have given the football club the right to a public enquiry as the delay would have been viewed as determination, is that so?

    Perhaps I have got all this confused and you could put me right.

    But yes please lets see some sort of public coverage of this one and something approaching informed opposition.

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  30. Tom, Simon and Chris; all suggesting in their own way that class is an important prerequisite for government. All presumably worship at the Chapel of the Blessed Margaret; and she wasn't just Middle Class, she was Trade as well.
    Catty remarks can easily be described as irony after the event. Sulky posts, even if self-proclaimed, are only funny if they really are.

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  31. Michael

    I think you mean non-determination for the revised planning application which was granted. The lease(s) is a separate matter.

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  32. I do hope that Dr. M. is able to find something useful and productive to do, rather than sinking into an abyss of bitterness over his removal from power. It's bad enough having one redundant politician, moping about the Isle, bemoaning his fate and hoping (without hope) that he will one day be re-elected. We could certainly do without another.

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  33. Don’t know Simon, which is why I asked you the questions in the previous comment.

    Despite what may look like my humorous approach to some of the comments here, I am really and genuinely trying to find out quid agis medice?

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  34. Can't imagine why I might be sinking into bitterness about anything.

    Real concern for the future of Thanet under the direction of the Labour Group, most certainly and it's a real shame that the public aren't able to see for themselves, how two very different cabinets conduct the business of local government.

    So I get more time to concentrate on my own business interests and might even find the time to take a holiday, the first in several years, which would be a result!

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  35. Tim, please leave me out of this class thing. It was Michael who made a rather mischievous remark about middle class aimed at Simon and I simply pointed out there is no such thing.

    The old order of an aristocracy or upper class, middle class professionals and businessmen and a once proud working class who laboured in factories, mines and shipyards is long gone. Now we have celebrity, people who earn money and pay taxes and those that don't. If that is a class system then so be it.

    On governance it would be nice to think that those in control have the right blend of education, experience and leadership quality. What class they may think they are is totally irrelevant.

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  36. Interested to hear that Clive Hart is proud to lead a cabinet team of two men and two women. I wonder which of them is gay, bisexual or transgender and, unless I have missed something, there appears to be no black or Asian person. Otherwise all very PC and much more representative of the electorate than those nasty Tories, eh Clive?

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  37. The government cannot force councils to freeze tax bills but it is offering to give those that limit spending rises to 2.5% the money that would have been needed.
    So the new TDC leadship could still go for a rise greater than 2.5% as some councils are proposing.
    The argument being that in the following year if no government subsidy is given council tax will have to rise by 5% to get back to the position before the subsidy plus the rise for the 3rd year itself.

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  38. To DrM:

    Simon,

    I do not believe that the public are particularly interested in seeing how two very different cabinets conduct the business of local government, fascinating as this may be. The public cares about results.

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  39. Simon I suppose the problem when it comes to the public’s perception of the council, it isn’t really related to how they behave at meetings, but entirely boils down to the individuals local area and what the council have either achieved in doing there or failed in doing there. Recently added to this is the council’s showcase that we can all access, the council’s internet presence. Like the council news feed on your own blog, in this particular case, this is very close to home and a bit like having an eccentric relation in your home or place of business, with their zip undone some of the time.

    At the moment your choice is either to delete and put up with the embarrassment of having people say you have done so, or leaving it there and the unfortunate embarrassing moment, like at the moment.

    In terms of Ramsgate, the perception here is that the council has deliberately acted in a way that damages the town, even when this costs the council money, like the heritage pontoons, maritime museum, Harbour Lights Cafe and worse of all Pleasurama, where the council has got into a position where all of the liability for both the cliff behind the development and the sea defence in front of it fall on the council. A decade of damage to the town, already £1m spent by the council, frankly what I fail to see how some other administration could have done worse in administering these and the other council owned assets in the town.

    14.55 I think this sort of thing depends on where you are geographically in the UK, Thanet’s population at the moment is for the most part white, women however do seem to represent about 50% of the community. In terms of peoples sexuality I don’t think it is or would need to be a visible issue, my customers don’t come in the bookshop and say I want a copy of Lewis’s history of Thanet and by the way I am gay, so I wouldn’t expect a councillor to need to do the same sort of thing. Different of course if I refused to stock gay literature or there was discrimination within the council toward gay people.

    15.06 an interesting thought, I suppose it would depend on what a council wanted to do, as well to remember that Ramsgate voters elected to pay more for a town council.

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  40. Bit of an overlap there John, I am multitasking and missed your comment that makes the same point.

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  41. Seems so far like they wasted their money. Too busy political point scoring to do much for our shitty town.

    Bring back the Coronation Ballroom, the Green & Brown Club, Merrie England, Pelossis in the High Street and Woolworths.

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  42. Tom

    Absolutely in agreement, and think your summation of the present class system is spot on.

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  43. I have come into this rather late, but I was interested to note that Cllr Chris Wells suggested we should not believe any Thanet District Council press releases, he has obviously been drafting them for many years :-)

    Michael, you forgot to add HOOT to your list, although the site is in Broadstairs the pantomime was acted out in Albion House

    Oh no it wasn't!!!

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  44. Council Tax Rises - Having been advised the subject of potential tax increases was a "non starting" subject, following the comment of 15:06 maybe an out of hand put down by you Michael was unjustified? Or is the matter now closed to discussion?

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  45. No Readit, I understand your point. Thereare two sorts of press release which are available. The first is TDC press releases which have to be apolitical and focus on the work of the council as a whole. Cabinet members are quoted, but often do little more than approve suggested quotes or add to them.

    There are also political group press releases, which are far from apolitical, of which you see many Labour and fewer conservative. It is unusual for a ruling group to use political press releases as there is an issue of confusion with official press releases from cabinet members.

    Perhapos this is tyhe bit of context whiuch is missing from Michael's press release comments and view. As the conservatives have been mainly in power their press releases from group have been few and far between; thus the image is of a less poitical approach as conservative comments are in effect more as apolitical cabinet members on TDC releases.

    It is interesting to note the Labour group's first real press release is political.

    It is inevitable you will se more conservative press releases now as it is the only way to get their distinctive view across - rather than you reading it through TDC apolitical press releases as policy.

    It will be interesting to see how the Labour group play this issue over time - balancing cabinet responsibilities with political slant through their own releases.

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  46. Thanks for that clarification Chris, if I understand you correctly. When the Conservative group finally get round to doing some political press releases in opposition, we should take them with a pinch of salt.

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  47. As long as you are even handed, Readit, and take the Labour ones of recent years in the same way - which leads me back to my original thoughts about Michael's touching belief in press releases.

    Seriously, read them all, but be alert and aware of the spin or bias contained within them, if they are from political sources. Or indeed, comments on blogs!!!!!

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  48. Chris, I take little notice of what any political party says, it is what they DO that counts. I am an avid supporter of Ramsgate regeneration and when I see progress on the ground I will praise whoever has achieved it. I am not blinkered by the need to maintain any political stance, a better place in which to live,is sufficient reward.

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  49. To Readit at 10:16,

    Here, here! Well said.

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  50. Ken. May I echo John and say that we have had enough of fine words and now we need fine deeds. I am to the right of centre but even I think that we ought to give the new administration a chance. To be perfectly honest, they can't be more inept than the last two have been

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  51. Roc Doc for king!

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  52. After reading cllr Harrisons blog, I wonder what Planet he has been living upon.
    His comments of Manston airport left out the most crucial part, the danger hovering over the heads of thousands of people.
    His shopping escapade! Why didn't he shop locally in the first place to keep the local shops open.
    After the years of excessive spending by the Labour government, is the reason for drastic cut backs by the Coalition Government, it shall take years to get us out of this financial situation.
    Relating to your area of Ramsgate, why don't your residents sorts their own weeds out on the pavements as many other areas do, a regular application of salt water sprayed on their immediate areas outside theirown houses will stop this problem, why do they expect every thing to be done by others, do they want us to wipe their arses for them?
    As far as married womens stamps are concerned, not getting full pension rights. Have you not heard the saying "you reap what you sow" or is this something else the Labour party thinks we should give away!
    No one deserves a free pension unless disbaled, even single mothers should earn their keep. they got themselves into the situation why the hell should we support them as well as giving them free contraception.
    Labour encourages laziness, scroungers and violence in people, GB has suffered greatly when Labour was in power and will continue to do so until people are made to work for their supper.

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