Friday, 22 February 2013

Thanet District Council censorship, how far can they go?



Obviously the council have to be able to keep some documents secret for some period of time. I think there can be no doubt about this, but I will spell it out for those who don’t understand.

Let us for instance say that I want to rent a council owned premises, well the council are going to want my bank details, personal contact details and so on and I don’t want them handing them out to anyone.

When MP’s expenses first came into the public domain, part of the information like their bank account numbers was blacked out (this process is called redacting and obviously has to be done in some cases) I guess there will always be some people who feel that nothing should be kept secret but I am not one of them.



This process of redaction does allow many documents to be published that would otherwise need to be kept secret, it is for instance important for the public to know when an MP has spent public money on buying himself a large screen TV but it is just as important not to put his credit card number online when publishing the recipt.  

There are also those documents that the council consider to be commercially sensitive, this moves us into the realms of the council negotiating with businesses and individuals and keeping secret information that would give the commercial advantage to one over the other.

Another aspect of secret documents and the need to keep them secret is how old the documents are and this even applies to the most secret of documents, those where national security would be compromised. Eventually even these cease to be a threat to security and just become of historic interest.



The final aspect here is the one of common sense, there is no point in the council spending money on protecting information that has already leaked out.   

Having got some sort of system for keeping some documents secret or secret for a given period of time, we then come to the problem of misusing this secrecy to cover up mistakes by officers and members of the council.    

Over the last twenty years since Jimmy Godden started negotiations to run down the amusements on Ramsgate seafront and attempt to acquire the freehold for a knockdown price, the largest single problem has been the unnecessary secrecy used by Thanet District Council to cover up their shortcomings in this fiasco.

This unnecessary secrecy was first mentioned and documented by the district auditor in 2002, so serious were the council’s blunders relating to the Pleasurama fiasco at that time that there is a good chance that the lead to the departure of the chief executive.

Now frankly the documents that Cllr Driver said he was going to publish on his blog and lead to his blog post saying he was going to be censured by the chief executive, can be summed up as providing evidence for continuing with the Pleasurama fiasco that wouldn’t have convinced Big Ears to lend anyone his bicycle, let alone a council to go ahead with a £22m development.


So when I saw his blog post and received the press release, I contacted the chief executive, here is the email.

Sent: 21 February 2013 22:10
To: Sue McGonigal;
Subject: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hi Sue, I am contacting you about the business of stopping Cllr Driver from receiving council pinks.
“Dear Cllr Driver,
 I have asked that a meeting be arranged to discuss the issuing of papers to you, as a result of your recent breach in respect of the publication of pink papers. I will not be in a position to provide you with any of the requested documents until after this meeting. Should you require any clarification of my ability to refuse these documents to you in your role as Chairman of OSP, please contact Harvey who will be able to help.”
The document in question has been to a greater or lesser extent in the public domain since 2009, as far as I can see from what Cllr Driver did he was obviously sent the pink paper version.
I am attaching the pdf version of this document to prove my point i.e. a copy of the document that I assume Cllr Driver didn’t receive.
I am also pointing out to you that I have discussed the contents of this document on several occasions with Harvey prior to Cllr Diver being elected a councillor, so presumably he must have been aware I had a copy of it.
I also discussed the contents of the document with you recently by email, although I am uncertain if I discussed it with you or your predecessor, prior to Cllr Driver becoming a councillor.
Obviously I can see some point in censoring Cllr Driver from releasing sensitive council documents that are in fact secret, however doing this over a document that has leaked out of the council some years ago and is known by both you and Harvey to have leaked out would seem to be somewhat ridiculous.
Obviously the council putting some sort of gagging order on the council’s chair of scrutiny is something that I can hardly avoid writing a blog post about, which I will do tomorrow.   
Please consider this as an open letter, which will be published as part of that post hopefully with your reply.  
Best regards Michael
Having phoned the council to ask if anyone wanted to discuss this issue before I posted about it and being told they didn’t. I received the following reply from Sue.  
Dear Michael,
I am aware that you have been chasing for a reply to this, however I have had other business to attend to.
I am not prepared to discuss the whys and wherefores of the Council’s Code of Conduct that requires confidentiality to be observed for pink papers, in order to ensure the Council remains legally compliant and free from legal challenge, however I felt I must point out that in the context of what you have written below (above), you have been incorrectly advised, as the extract of the email that I sent to Councillor Driver was not in relation to the pink paper that he published.
Regards, 
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council
I then phoned them back as I couldn’t understand from the email if she or some other officer wanted to discuss the issue further, no one wanted to discuss the issue with me but they said I may get a more comprehensive reply. and that is the situation now.

I am very busy with work today and haven't even had a chance to read this one through I will sort out any glaring errors and add anything  I can think of later.

From: michaelchild@aol.com [mailto:michaelchild@aol.com]
Sent: 22 February 2013 14:37
To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Sue I figured as much, the quote is from the press release of Cllr Driver’s that I published yesterday, see http://thanetpress.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/gagging-orders.html
As I said before I can’t just leave this one, I will try phoning the council again and see if anyone is prepared to talk to me about it, otherwise it’s my best guess. 
Best regards Michael

From: Sue McGonigal
To: 'michaelchild@aol.com' <michaelchild@aol.com>
CC: cllr-Clive Hart
Sent: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 15:53
Subject: RE: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Michael,
I am not in the office today and so was not available to take your call which Annette picked up.  I was surprised that you felt my reply was not complete, as I’m not sure what other information you had asked for.
However, I can confirm that the council does not have a gagging order on anyone, it does however have a code of conduct that requires all councillors to observe confidentiality of commercially sensitive and other data protected information. The main concern is ensuring that confidentiality is maintained, especially at the point that the information is issued. Often, with the passing of time, the information can become less sensitive, and can be openly shared. We would review the position whenever we get an FOI request on an issue, even if at some point it had been contained within a pink paper. Hence why Harvey no doubt was not troubled on learning that you had a copy of the 2009 paper.
As I explained before, the meeting that I have with Cllr Driver and the content of the email that the extract is from does not relate to the pink paper that he published, and Cllr Driver is aware of this, as he knows what it was said in response to.
Regards,
Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

 To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hi Sue, difficult for me, on the one hand I have Cllr Driver saying that you are issuing a gagging order and on the other hand you saying that you are censuring for some other purpose, which appears to relate to his leaking council documents that I can find no trace of him leaking.
Anyway despite having more interesting things to do I have bunged something up on the blog at http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/thanet-district-council-censorship-how.html which I hope you think is reasonably fair.
With the specific 2009 document, you imply that it is no longer restricted; does this mean that I can publish it in its entirety on the internet? If not are you happy for me to publish a redacted version with phone numbers and emails removed?
With other Pleasurama documents held by the council, can I presume that the same applies to all of the pre 2009 ones?
Does the council have some guidelines on the release of the older restricted documents it holds? I ask this as a local historian as much as a local blog writer.

Best regards Michael
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Sue McGonigal
To: 'michaelchild@aol.com' <michaelchild@aol.com>
CC: Harvey Patterson
Sent: Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:07
Subject: RE: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Michael,

As far as I am aware Cllr Driver has not leaked any other documents, but again, I can confirm that the pink report that he has published on his web  is not the purpose of the meeting.

I will have to ask Harvey to advise on the publication of the 2009 document and others,  as he will need to assess what information is able to be made public, and what needs redacting. He will also be able to advise on process.  I will ask him to come back to you directly next week.

Regards,

Sue

From: michaelchild@aol.com [mailto:michaelchild@aol.com]
Sent: 22 February 2013 17:27
To: Sue McGonigal
Subject: Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Thanks Sue

I couldn’t draw any other inference from “have asked that a meeting be arranged to discuss the issuing of papers to you, as a result of your recent breach in respect of the publication of pink papers.” Unless you mean he misquoted you rather than quoting you out of context.

Obviously this is a serious issue as Cllr Driver both holds the post of Chair of Scrutiny and appears top be saying that the council are withholding documents against the public interest.

With Pleasurama in particular where the district auditor made recommendations that the council should publish all of the documents unless there was a cast iron case not to, see http://tdc-mg-dmz.thanet.gov.uk/Data/Cabinet/20031016/Agenda/$Agenda%20Enclosure%206.doc.pdf

Personally I am inclined to view the whole saga of trying to acquire the freehold from 1994 to date as one entity and until the names behind the offshore company come into the public domain I see no reason to do otherwise.  

Particularly in view of the 2009 document being based on the council dealing with the offshore company, several years after assuring me that they were now dealing with a UK company.   

Many thanks for your help over trying to get the rest of the documentation released, I look forward to hearing from Harvey, it would be helpful if were to send me the documents that I can publish as some of the ones I have may be incomplete and don’t say if they are restricted or not.

Best regards Michael
Hi Michael,

I’m not able to add anything further at this stage.
However, as far as your comment from the District Auditors’ recommendations – I agree, and the council currently works to the presumption that there will be full disclosure, unless our legal team or external lawyers advise against it.  I will reiterate what I said in my earlier email, the council does not have a gagging order on anyone, it does however have a code of conduct that requires all councillors to observe confidentiality of commercially sensitive and other data protected information.


Regards,

Dr Sue McGonigal
Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer
Thanet District Council

Hi Sue, gagging order was Cllr Diver’s phrase not mine, it does occur to me though that the withholding information about Pleasurama, until after the decisions have been made, seems to have been a factor in the council now facing the risk of considerable liability if the try to regain control of the site.
 
There doesn’t seem to be any reason why a redacted version didn’t go into the public domain, particularly with such a large project on TDC owned land.
 
I sincerely hope that you will look at the documentation relating to the current concessions and consider which parts of can be published, public interest is considerable and I haven’t had any satisfactory reason as to why a FRA wasn’t sought as part of the recent bargaining process.   

Best regards Michael

95 comments:

  1. Michael, since the document published by Cllr Driver, as you yourself had already pointed out, was already in the public domain it should be pretty obvious that his censor was not over that. That he may be being brought to task over some other misdeamour is, clearly, a matter of disciplinary confidentially. After all, how many of us would want some disciplinary action involving us relayed to all and sundry.

    I really do not think we need to worry though because, sooner or later, Cllr Driver will be trumpetting far and wide his version of whatever befalls him with embellishments.

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    1. Tom I am assuming you mean censure here and not that the chief exec will censor him or some misspelling of thurible, in both cases the work of the late lamented Aubrey Beardsley come to mind.
      Seriously though this isn’t about individuals but about the way the council decides what information it is going to keep secret.
      As I can see no instance of Cllr Driver leaking information that he definitely shouldn’t, this does beg the question, are the council withholding information to cover up council errors and using excuses like legal liability and commercial confidentiality to cover this up?
      There must come a point where a councillor as a representative of the electorate, has a duty to release information that the council are withholding merely to cover their errors.

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    2. Even when that information is already in the public domain and the grand exposure is simply as a divertionary tactic to turn attention away from the matter of encouraging vandalism. That said, we do not know why Cllr Driver is being carpetted and why should we before it has happened.

      As for a councillor's duty, I think you are simply guessing that the council are withholding information we ought to know about for, as far as I can see, the information that was being disclosed here was nothing new.

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    3. Tom at the moment the document only appears as a pdf download available to members of the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront FaceBook group and I would guess wouldn’t be very obvious to most members of that group.

      Initially I assumed that anyone could access it as one of the members had joined me to the group when it was formed and as my computer was signed on to my FaceBook account I no problem accessing it.

      If I publish it, I would do so in the form of an ordinary webpage, much more accessible, so this would be different.

      Incidentally have you read the document?

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  2. The only confidential document i have published is the front page of a report to Cabinet of 2009 on Pleasurama. This was published on my blog site "Driver's Thanet". I also said in a twitter message that i would pass copies of this particular report on to members of the public. This is an old report. The information it contains is outdated and in view of the enormous public interest in Pleasurama I am of the ophion that this report should be made publically avaiable. This must therefore be the "pink" report that the Chief Executive is referring to in her e-mail.

    I have however previously said that i would release into the public domain copies of any Standards Complaints made against me. I beleive that the public have a right to know about any complaints made agaisnt their elected councillors. This is an important part of democratic accountability. I would of course redact the names and address etc of the complainant to protct their identity, because I also firmly believe that people should be able to complain without fear or intimidation.

    Finally, when I spoke with Mr Patterson about the the Chief Excutive's letter i beleive that an effort was made to bully me into compliance. I have summarised what was said to me on my blogsite.

    http://driversthanet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/gaggingorders-yesterday-i-publishedon.html

    I have a meeting with the Chief Executive, Mr Patterson and the Leader of the Council to discuss this matter on Monday. I will say more after this meeting.


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    1. Michael, are you going to correct all the typos and spelling errors in Cllr Driver's comment above, like you did with mine, or are councillors also exempt from such scrutiny?

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    2. Ian I would like to be a fly on the wall when you were being intimidated.

      Tom I wouldn’t dream of teasing Ian Driver about his typos, his command of written English doesn’t make him a suitable subject, however you have an excellent command of the language. And off coarse a sense of humour – I think.

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    3. Thank you for your kind words, Michael, but, as to my sense of humour, I think it becomes more cynical every day as I look on in despair at what passes for governance and standards in public office in this land of ours at all levels. Mind you, that in itself makes the need for some beauty and humour in life even more important and I applaud you for your part in trying to provide some of both through your blogsite.

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  3. Good to see our Chief Excutive's time is being used in such a productive manner....I`m sure she's far more important issues to deal with than this...it's Friday Crackerajack!

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    1. PS the nub of this one relates both to the democratic running of the council and the council’s potential liability for about £5m, which if you are a local taxpayer means your liability.

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    2. There is no more important issue in Ramsgate if not Thanet than the bomb site that is the Royal Sands and its not the average member of the public that have got us to this situation. Its the TDC councillors and officers. They now owe it to the public to go forward in an open way.

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  4. The Code of Conduct makes this pretty clear. Its not for Driver to say what is or is not in the public interest to disclose and publishing such information without permission of the Council is a breach of the Code of Conduct. He has been told this before at public meetings.

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    1. Driver does have that responsibility as the elected reresentative of the public. McGonigal is a hireling above her station. Sack her and cancel her pension.

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  5. I recall numerous occasions when work colleagues have been asked to 'pop in' to the bosses office, only to find themselves on the end of a quite unexpected spit-roast. I have learned from these experiences. Nowadays, I always ensure that I am fully aware of the purpose of a meeting before attending it, so that I have all of the relevant documentation to hand and can answer any questions which arise. My advice to councillor Driver is that he should not attend this meeting until McG and crew have properly spelled out the purpose of the meeting and what lies behind it. He is entitled to be as fully prepared for the meeting as they, obviously, are. I have my doubts whether he should attend at all. In my opinion, it is not for officers of the council to summon councillors to explain themselves. Councillors are accountable to the electorate. It is the officers who should be accountable to councillors and should be summoned to explain themselves. In respect of the Pleasurama debacle councillor Driver should be summoning the McG to explain who decided to make all of this stuff secret and which demoncratically elected members of the council were involved in making that decision. We can only hope that some elected members were involved and that this isn't yet another instance of the tail wagging the dog.

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    1. Anon, all very fine but you have no way of knowing whether or not Cllr Driver has been fully briefed on the purpose of the meeting. You are also wrong about accountability, for councillors are bound by a code of conduct which, if breached, can be dealt with by the council disciplinary procedures if appropriate.

      I rather get the impression that James Maskell knows a great deal more than you about the Council Code of Conduct and procedures.

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    2. well said 7:55 Mcgonigal reports to Driver or its the sack. What spineless councillors.

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    3. If its pink its pink and surely all councilors should respect this and abide by the code of conduct. End of story


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    4. It might have been pink in 2009 but does that mean it stays pink forever?

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  6. I'm sure you're right James but it's this navel-gazing approach to accountability that led to MPs expenses scandal etc. I'm guessing that most of the blue-rinse brigade that contribute here applauded the Torygraph when it started the ball rolling on that one.
    Whilst I'm sure that the Code of Conduct has this pretty well sewn up that doesn't mean that the Code of Conduct is right; merely that the Code of Conduct as presently formulated suits those in power at the moment.
    Juvenal had it about right; Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Or maybe Orwell? No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

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  7. The Constitution, including the Code of Conduct, can be amended by Full Council, so it's up to the Cllrs to find agreement. The question is, what form of words could be found that would still allow Officers the ability to say no when necessary? With the Royal Sands review coming up in May, its possible that the Council may find itself involved in legal action, and its not unreasonable that the Council would prefer any documentation to remain unpublished. I've no problem with the documents being published down the line but I don't think now is the right time.

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  8. So we wait until the site has been sold as a land banking exercise to a firm that do the bare minimum necessary to avoid a breach of contract and then when all of us are so old as to no longer care (and you may by then have won a local council election) the papers are released to show that the deal should never have gone ahead at all and maybe even, Heaven forfend, that the deal wasn't exactly pukkah anyway. Strange way to run an enterprise that is supposed to be accountable to those that pay for it.

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    1. How you have changed your spots over the years, Tim. Did the decommissioning of Ark Royal make you so anti-Tory and establishment? Mind you, I do have some sympathy with such sentiment for where are the next generation of naval aviators to come from, always assuming that one of the new carriers ever sees service!

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    2. Tim,

      I was treated to and survived RN hospitality on board Ark Royal when she made her commissioning visit to Lisbon in the 80's. We also provided up homers to some of the crew. Maybe we met, if you were on board?

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    3. What makes you think I was on Ark Royal? No, like many seafaring people I have a severe dislike of demagoguery and Little England attitudes. Seafarers in general have a more genial view of the world, having seen it in its unspoilt beauty a long way from land. They certainly have little time for entrenched opinions; believe me, living in the cramped conditions on board many of HM ships you do have to learn a little tolerance.
      I am still a Conservative, but I am also a pragmatist. If Cllr Driver achieves a successful resolution to the Pleasurama saga then jolly good I say. He and his type are not going to take over the country; they missed their chance to do that thirty years or more ago. It's more likely to be those that follow the youngest Abrahamic religion.

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    4. Doubt that, Tim, they even struggle to take over their own countries.

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    5. Tim,

      There was no sinister intent in what I said. Tom mentioned the Ark Royal, which reminded me that I had met some of her crew in Lisbon in the 80s. We had a happy couple of days and evenings. Which caused me to wonder if you had been one of the crew at that time. That is all.


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  9. James maskell and others. The constitution is out of date. There should be no private matters when it comes to public land/buildings/contracts.

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    1. Thanks DFL. I would like to see a clear chronological order of events in terms of official documents. One thing we may be overlooking here- is I think perhaps we all need to see the form that the member of the public filled out that triggered the Auditors Report of 2002.

      Once we have that, I guess we can fill in the gaps with other relevant information.

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    2. SG I am pretty sure that this is on the council’s website, I think the missing part is really the documentation that lead to the issuing of the 2006 development agreement, i.e. the equivalent to pink documents we are discussing here for the 2009 variation but for the original agreement.

      My take is that the initial enthusiasm of the councillors when in 2002 they thought they were dealing with a Whitbread project was understandable, it is difficult to tell to what extent Whitbread were ever committed, however once it became apparent that they had definitely pulled out and that the council were dealing with an offshore company where it was impossible to identify the people running it, I find it hard to understand why the councillors continued to be so enthusiastic.

      At the moment the Labour group still seem to be saying that continuing with SFP is the best option, so I am wondering why.

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    3. Hmmmmm

      I have just read the couple of archived posts which are barely 6 months old between them, which our friendly spammer has signposted for me/us.

      I note that the Lido "Developer" also possibly has no Development experience. I note that this valuable piece of real estate came with flattened Heritage Assets courtesy of Thanet Council????????urghhh.

      I also note that Michael has pointed out in his Animal Welfare piece of Jan 5 this year (I was grateful to be introduced to "Animal Farm" as part of my studies at the local college), that Cllrs Alan Poole and Simon Moores really do need to be seen to be cooperating here to save us from whomsoever it is, who is wrecking Thanet and allowing public assets to be stripped.

      Ian Driver's meeting this coming Monday with Dr Sue Mconigal, and I believe also Harvey Patterson and the leader? could hold more significance than I could ever have imagined?

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    4. Michael,

      Succinctly and accurately put, Michael. Your questions are germane. Though I doubt if TDC will ever answer you. And Pleasurama decays inexorably into a fiasco of incompetence. For which the taxpayers will have to pick up the bill.

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    5. Whilst I share the concerns of many others about the Pleasurama situation, I have to worry about the choice of people's champion. When our major parties seem devoid of effective leadership and are seemingly unable to explain their policies on issues, how worrying that intelligent people should turn to the voice of Marxism. Surely the very freedom of information you seek and cherish would be put at risk if those of the Driver ilk were to seize control.

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    6. Well , this is the situation we are in Tom.

      How I see things is, that we do need to establish a body to protect and gain employment from our heritage assets on a Thanet Wide basis. This should really be made up with lay-people, councillors, local business people and professionals.

      For far too long we have allowed the politicians and professionals to just do their own thing without a lay-person(or stakeholder) scrutiny and involvement. And what Happens? As in Animal Farm, we all work harder and longer to pay more?

      I think it would be a mistake if Cllr Driver went into his meeting on Monday alone, especially without bearing in mind the contributions we have all made here.

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    7. I think his meeting is more on disciplinary and conduct issues than taking forward this saga, but I could be wrong.

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  10. All this talk about a constitution is stuff and nonsense. Constitutions and such-like are written by the establishment to protect the establishment. Politicians of all colours hide behind such documents to excuse their ineffectiveness and inaction. If you want real change you have to be prepared to do what it takes. If this involves breaking a few poxy rules, written by a few stuffed shirts who are only in it for the allowances and expenses, then, so be it. It is absolutely clear that the people of Ramsgate want a full expose of what has gone on here and they are entitled to assistance from their elected representatives. If the political parties unite in an attempt to cover-up what has gone on those who want to see the truth will need to be prepared for a fight.

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    1. As ever with you, Anon, a well constructed and logical debating point full of salient facts. As for this fight you propose, well I am not not part of the establishment, but I could sign up with them if it gave me the chance to have a pop at you.

      Has it never occurred to you that without constitutions and rules you would have anarchy and then it is down to the survival of the fittest. I doubt somehow that such definition would include you or your current champion.

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    2. My understanding is that we last had a constitution under the lord protector Oliver Cromwell, so perhaps you are talking about something else here, if the stuffed shirt you mean is Cromwell you are a bit on the late side, people are allowed to sing and dance etc.

      Or perhaps anon it is TDC you are taking about and you would like to hold some purely local revolution, like Cromwell – leader of men – Lord Such is also deceased, perhaps you could lead some sort of local revolution founded on anonymity.

      Tom my guess is that come the revolution the first thing anon would do is call the police.

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    3. Anoymouse 1:59PM

      I have read your post. It is a pity that you did not do so before you sent it.

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  11. I have spent many years studying TDC and its methods. You guys obviously don't want to do anything about Pleasurama because you're letting them set the rules. Every campaign group that ever had an impact in Thanet didn't do it by talking to the politicians who caused the problem in the first place. In evidence I would submit the amount of wasted time and effort spent by Michael Childs in trying to corner them by writing letters. All they've done is batted you away and answered the bits they wanted to answer. You don't even know if they've told you the truth and you still don't have anything you could submit to any external agency. Fortunately, the FORS are getting themselves organised and are talking to the right sorts of people (i.e. not people who think they can influence events by spending all day blathering on blogs).

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    1. Well then, 7:19, I look forward to meeting you come the revolution. ne thing though, what other campaign group has had a real impact locally in the last couple of decades because I somehow missed it.

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    2. How quaintly plebian you are, 8:31, with your Clarkey and repetetive moaning. Shame you cannot spell either.

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    3. Anonymouse 8:31 PM

      Here you go again. Clearly you have a hang up about pensioners. Were you frightened by one at some time or other. Did one shout boo! as you stumbled out of the pub. I can appreciate how disturbing this must have been for you. You are still disturbed, very much so. It's a shame. Age is taking its toll on you.

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    4. Sorry Ren John I think I must have deleted some of the comments you were replying to, fraid if it looks inappropriate or like spam I zap it from my phone.

      You can pretty much guarantee comment with containing obscenity, words I consider unsuitable for my children and those with links to infected websites will go as soon as I notice them

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    5. S'alright Michael. At least it's better than Facebook where the controls are so arcane that I end up having a conversation with myself.

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    6. No problem, Michael, be my guest one it comes to removing all trace of the obnoxious peasant.

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    7. Ouch, obviously still waking up for 'one' should be 'when' in the previous comment.

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  12. As a member of the public I once received a leaked TDC report, pink copy, re sewage contamination of the sea at Margate. Would the Chief Executive like to argue that it is not in the public interest for people to know this information ?

    How many years did TDC decide to keep secret the matter of aquifer contamination by Thor and Sericol ? Even now searches to TDC, by prospective house buyers, do not flag up these contaminated land sites.

    In 1976 I faced the prospect of charges under the Official Secrets Act. Panorama had just broadcast an expose' re Thanet care homes. Included in which was the history of their exemplary character Edwin Baars. Mr Baars had been discharged from a mental hospital in. IIRC, Buckinghamshire. His hospital social worker gave him a single rail ticket to Margate and a letter to show to anyone he could find who might help him. Hence he arrived homeless at Thanet's DHSS office ready to be paid cash daily to be maintained homeless. Eventually the area's thriving care home industry took him in. Drew their fees from DHSS. The documentary shew him and other care home inmates walking hand in hand along Margate beach. Kicked out after breakfast and not allowed back in until teatime. They would gather in Margate library for warmth and shelter.

    Someone in the Civil Service Commission decided that I should be "Disciplined" under staff code and prosecuted under OSA. Oh so he thought morally inferior social workers discharging mental patients to homelessness at the seaside was a secret worth protecting ? That revealing the facts had no public interest defence ?

    It ended up that civil service lawyers could find no breach of staff code and backed right off from their prosecution rhetoric.

    I may have been blacklisted from the Civil Service but that did not stop me clearing at top secret to take contracts in defence industry. On one vetting I was actually sent a note of congratulation for defending vulnerable citizens and assured the run in with OSA, re Panorama, would have no adverse effect on my security clearance.

    Perhaps Cllr Driver would be well advised to distinguish between what is public curiosity and what is public interest.

    That way if the public servants throw their weight around they can soon be assured that the final arena will be a court of law. So litigation with a developer should also be considered against litigation with a cllr.

    One interesting, but telling, aspect of my run in with OSA was the area Principal Civil Servant who told me "Our job is to protect the minister's tail. No care home in Thanet gets its full entitlement to benefits for their residents. And it is not our job to advise them about what their full entitlement is."

    At that time letters began to arrive at Thanet DHSS reporting that some Thanet care homes did not issue their residents weekly pocket money paid to care home owners by DHSS. Pocketing the pocket money care homes !! So the principal civil servant "Ordered" that letters about theft of pocket money were to be referred only to him (For nil action) as he did not want those appearing in the public interest defence of yours truly.

    Public servants, low risk parochial, have an aberrant view of secrecy.

    On Security of the Realm, Michael, my earliest briefing began with the accepted "Need to know concept". The problem with that is there would be no mechanism to deter and detect treachery at higher echelons. Essentially to yield a feed back loop there exists the public interest defence for alleged breaches of OSA. It seems difficult for James to embrace the idea that we do not have to blindly do as we are told.



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    1. Gypsy Jack,

      I take your point. But to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act [OSA] it must first be shown to the Court that official secrets within the meaning of the Act have been compromised. The criteria for classification of information, which in descending order is TOP SECRET, SECRET, CONFIDENTIAL & RESTRICTED, can be easily found on the Internet. You will notice that causing damage to the reputation of Politicians is not included. I suggest that simply printing something on a piece of pink paper does not classify it within the meaning of the Official Secrets Act.

      Personally I shudder to think that anyone in TDC wpuld have regular access to anything above RESTRICTED, or at the most the occasional CONFIDENTIAL. Though it is a delicious to imagine what might be revealed if the Councillors and Officers were run through the full Personal Vetting procedure, where all is revealed. But maybe I'm making too much of all this.

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    2. John, I think they are local government levels of confidentiality and outside the remit of the official secrets act covering matters of national security. A contract between council and supplier of services in its negotiation stage made be considered confidential for the purposes of a local council, but would in no way fall within the scope of the Official Secrets Act.

      Perhaps we are, indeed, getting carried away here and making something of a mountain out of a molehill. I am not even sure whether local government officers are subject to any kind of security vetting procedure as you and I would understand it other than where job sensitive, like working with children or elderly when CRB checks would apply.

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    3. Tom,

      I know that clearance for occasional access to RESTRICTED can be granted with a few simple checks. But they are afterwards watched by the Security Service.

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    4. I am continuing my tour of previous posts of Michael thanks to our friendly spammer; this time the one flagged up here called "Photo Wesbstats Luftwaffe" etc of 2nd April last year, which, among other things, depicts a very haunted, haggered looking Clive Hart(I remember that one!).

      The post refers to an initial asking price of £80million for the airport(about 22m was paid for it). Taking account of any haggling, to achieve anywhere near that price would require planning permission, and planning permission requires public consultation, and for public consultation to be effective requires facts. And how hard are these to obtain when it comes to issues of public health and land and property etc?

      This ties in with one of my interests in coming to this site. I, along with others, have been observing how, owing to lack of information our assets are being trashed and sold off on the cheap. This is particularly relevant for section 106 agreements(Planning Gain), whereby a premium (and this can be substantial) can be negotiated to pay over to the community. Negotiating the odd roundabout or community building is selling us far, far too short.

      Just think what Planning gain might be achieved if planning permission was granted for the airport? Many millions I would have thought? The bulk of which could be spent on the areas most affected? But it seems we cannot trust our local politicians to set out options for us in a logical way. IMHO residents who are not involved in local politics need to get involved in maximising public assets for the common good, which includes working on consultations.

      BTW, I am not advocating planning permission for the airport. Monitoring and Collection of any fines due, then yes.

      Delete
  13. I am no politian just a 77 year old pensioner who has lived and worked in Ramsgate all my life and many generations of my family going back to the year dot.I have seen our thriving seafront shrink and sold off by the changing holiday trade from the bathing pool to the harbour,what was a playground for the visitors and residents is falling into the hands of the wealthy to be lost forever.When the war finished Ramsgate was littered with eyesore bomb sites but were very quickly put back to use,and yet this pivotal point of our town has stood as a memorial to our apathy,lets wipe away what has gone on and get once more something to attract residents and people from all over kent to our town.I think as much as Iain Driver is disliked by some he is being blamed for what he got right not what he got wrong it is a pity a few more do not open their mouths when they smell a rat in the recent child abuse scandel it would have saved much anguish.The ship is heading for the rocks and the crew are still fighting among themselves instead of pulling the same way on the rope.
    Stargazer.

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    1. The only snag with your theory, Stargazer, is that Ian Driver is not a crew player. He is simply about promoting Ian Driver. There must surely be better champions the good people of Ramsgate could call on than this politicised agitator. Look at his blogsite where he slings around the accusations though perhaps the funniest is where he, having a beer gut that must send brewers laughing all the way to the bank, has the cheek to call Dave Green obese.

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    2. If he is that big and weighty he is just right to grab the rope and get pulling with all the rest of the crew but only one direction.

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    3. Unfortunately he is all hot air and bluster and one pull on the rope could result in a massive throat gripper. This is not Superman we are talking about here, but Scargill's unfit disciple.

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    4. Allan, here in Ramsgate we have had a problem over the council owned Pleasurama site that goes back 20 years and appears to be about acquiring the site freehold for land banking.

      For about fifteen years this prime seafront site had been derelict and for the last ten of them I have been trying to get councillors of both parties address this issue.

      We have a speculator who hasn’t developed anything keeping this site vacant, however all of the councillors I have approached have said something along the lines our best bet is to continue with this developer. Anyway we are making more tractors.

      The same applies to The Royal Victoria Pavilion, council owned leased to rank and the council won’t make them comply with the terms of the lease.

      Now if you can tell me of an alternative councillor to Ian driver, who you think would address these issues, do so and I will contact them, otherwise we have the Labour cabinet member, telling us that it is best, not to hold public meetings, invite the press and the best plan is to stick with the developer.

      We have a Conservative opposition that seem to be in hiding, presumably in case any more of their members disgrace themselves and Ian Driver who appears to be trying to make the council officers behave in the way the electorate wants.

      Granted he may not have changed his spots, my guess is a Trotskyite takeover of Thanet is unlikely and therefore worth the risk as he evidently hasn’t changed his teeth.

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    5. Still think you are being naive on Driver, Michael, and I would agree with others who reckon you have done far more for Ramsgate on these issues than he will ever do. As soon as he has had his pound of publicity it will be onto the next issue where there is a photo shoot opportunity.

      A friend of mine wrote a perfectly reasonable comment, giving an alternative view, on one of the postings on Driver's blogsite. It contained nothing offensive, no bad language and made no reference to people that could give rise to a libel case. It was not published and, if you look around the blogs, others say they have had the same experience.

      So we have the champion, alleged, of free speech and openess in local government applying censorship on those that contradict his view, yet he has the audacity to call others hypocrites. Who really is the hypocrite?

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    6. Can’t comment on a comment I haven’t seen Allan, if he manages the spam and other blog comments from his phone like I do some of the time, anything can happen and probably will.

      I am not saying that Cllr Driver is the ideal councillor here, just pointing out a couple of issues he is addressing and wondering if you have any suggestions for an alternative councillor, who would perhaps address them with some vigour and put us at less risk of being first up against the wall come the revolution?

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  14. Exactly Michael. All the vitriolic Driver-haters have no viable alternative to offer. The usual negative Thanet whingers

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    1. Tim, do the people need an alternative. All they need is to organise themselves and demand of their ward councillors answers on the Pleasurama issue. If the way forward is to have some bloke with a fat beer belly calling the Ramsgate mayor obese, then God help Ramsgate and I'm glad I live in Broadstairs.

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    2. Tom, we really do need a councillor to take up these issues for us, only a councillor can demand some sort of timely response from officers, we elected councillors to represent us, not developers, not officers and not themselves.

      Incidentally my understanding is that Cllr Driver lives in Broadstairs too.

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    3. Spot on, Michael, but when he tried standing here he got very a swift rejection from the good people of Bradstowe. Maybe they are more perseptive?

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    4. Tom,

      I could not imagine the people of Broadstairs voting for the Loony Left.

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    5. John and Tom I guess the real problem here is that no one is suggesting an alternative councillor who would take up the issues that Cllr Driver has taken up.

      Let us say in Broadstairs the whole area behind the main sands was council owned and had turned into a 20 year wreck, that Broadstairs Pavillion was council owned and derelict and the townspeople were suffering from the resultant economic problems.

      Would you be perhaps prepared to give Cllr Driver a go particularly if senior councillors from both main parties were only really offering more of the same?

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    6. Michael,

      I respect the fact that Driver is speaking out. I'm grateful that he is doing so, whatever his motives maybe. But I do not respect his politics. He is of the Loony Left.

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    7. John

      All rather quaint don't you think? I get the impression you think Michael is hoping Ian would represent us in all things?

      And I'm only around because I am off work with a chest infection!!

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    8. SG my objective here isn’t that at all, what I am trying to do is to get the other councillors to consider moving from a position where they see their primary function a being supporting and representing council officers, to a position where they see their primary function as discovering the wishes of the electorate and getting council officers to enact these wishes.

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    9. Michael, I see no difference between us here?

      This is very evidently the view of The Ramsgate Society as well, which is why I joined them. The experience of the people behind the Arlington House Residents Appeal, and also the Margate caves, and most Residents Associations, chime with what you and I believe should be happening.

      This discussion about Ian Drivers' politics is really irrelevant here.

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    10. Sol Gays 2:29,

      I do not uderstand your remark. Suffice to say that you got the wrong impression. I said what I meant and meant what I said. I was speaking only for me. You should not infer any hidden agenda on my part.

      I hope your chest gets better soon.

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    11. Michael, that Broadstairs has no history of long drawn out developments or contracts with obscure offshore companies is perhaps down to the fact that the town has always had its own council dating back to long before TDC was formed. Generally its councillors seem to to operate, without all the political infighting that goes on over in Margate, for the good of the town.

      As for, Tim, it is not just the left wing politics of Driver that I find objectionable, but the way he has demeaned the office of councillor, reduced TDC meetings to shambolic shouting matches where he grandstands to his hoi polloi following in the public galleries and attaches accusations of homophobia or vested interest to anyone who opposes his view. If that is what you want as your champion all I can do is wish you the best of luck.

      Delete
  15. Just trying to establish common ground John, for future action if needed or wanted, that is all. Thankyou for your get well wishes.

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  16. Tom
    If we in Ramsgate wait for a Conservative to take up the cudgel on our behalf we'll still be waiting when Hell freezes over. And given the ingrained adherence to the Party line exhibited by the Labour specimens in the borough, that goes for them as well. So we're left with Driver. You have offered not one constructive thought on this vexing problem and you disdained to answer Michael's allegory regarding Viking Bay and the Pavilion. I loath Driver's politics and what his ilk did to this country in the 70s - damage that we still feel today - but I also detest the gaping hole in our sea front and the idea that speculative land bankers are trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, with or without any local assistance. If he is the only local politician willing to try and get to the bottom of this mess then so be it - wishing him success in this matter does not make me a Marxist

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  17. The wishes of the electorate is a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, thing to get right. It is a loose phrase at the best of times, and as used here represents the wishes of those activists and commentators represented on this blog, and other blogs. Discovering, and adhering to the wishes of the electorate, would have seen the reintroduction of hanging; much more closed borders; an end to third world aid; and the halving of many benefits; if the fingers on the pulse of measuring popular opinion are to be believed.

    The tossing of these views into any discussion is calculated to simply close off real rational debate, not because the electorate may not have real views, but many of those views defy the economics available to those in power. The NHS is the classic example, any reform is attacked by luddite views harking back to the cottage hospitals of the fifties - which were far less effective in treating and saving lives than our current, fewer, hi tech variants. The Turner Contemporary, for all its success was unpopular with much of the electorate for a long time. As a voter and traveller, I always felt the switching of the high speed line from Waterloo to St Pancras was a mistake, until I used the new service and realised just how much better it now opened the whole country up for visitors and others.

    In this debate, the benefit of hindsight, and ideas which will have been looked at and costed as impossible make sense here on a blog. Real decisions are always much harder to get right, and the costs of those are often much greater than expected or predicted. Why are the conservatives rather more circumspect in their criticisms than Ian Driver? They have already, and probably will again, have to deliver elements of this within the contracts and arrangements that are on the ground. Ian Driver has the freedom to acknowledge and encourage all to criticise, safe in the knowledge he may never have to deliver. Something Liberal Democrats are recently discovering about the difference between fantasy opposition politics and the straitjackets of real decision.

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  18. The Labour Party locally is busy delivering all sorts of promises, uncosted for the medium term, and often uncosted or with hidden costs right now. Eventually someone else always has to come alonng and mop up that mess left behind, at national and local levels, usually becoming unpopular for the decisions they have to make, which the Labour party freely ducks and pushes away. That is the difference between fantasy opposition and practical understanding. In opposition the Labour Party criticised the number and pay rates of senior officers at TDC, then when in power made a disastrous and expensive new director appointment. In opposition the Labour party criticised the level of councillors allowances; then raised it as soon as in office. In opposition the Labour Party claimed they would cut out waste; then struggled in power not to raise council taxes even though they had more money through the new homes bonus than they ever expected.

    Michael will of course have none of this, he buys into the gesture politics of putting Ramsgate first, and refuses when ever invited to weigh the costs and benefits of politically motivated decision, such as the free pass into the main shopping and tourist car park in Ramsgate.

    The Labour Party have played the politics of their first year very well, making all the right noises and nods to popular causes. The costs of their decisions are hidden and ignored - the closing of the port to animal exports against all revious legal advice; the talking shops of economic policy whilst businesses suffer and refuse to invest because of their anti business stance; and just look now at any question regarding the possible sums to Margate Caves and Ramsgate Tunnels. Mike Jarvis and I funded the original investigation and feasibility for Margate Caves. There were many conversations about the costs, and negotiations to get the costs matching the funds. There is little evidence visible of such careful weighing of public money in Labours grants tothese possibly very welcome developments; nor whay happens when the money granted runs out, and other sources have to be found. In Cliftonville, Labour was happy to sit on their hands and see two fundamentally important social welfare projects fail; quiet hard work saved one, but with no help from a Labour administration. Follow the money rather than the rhetoric, and you may conclude there are less honourable perspectives on display here than you would like to admit. But thats all about grown up and real decision making, is it not? Way beyond the experience of the child mayor of margate, who has never had to compete for a proper job, just had daddy fix it for him, and his cohorts can manage.

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    Replies
    1. What I feel is sad about this situation Chris, Is that through Ian Drivers' meeting with the CEO, Harvey Patterson, and Clive Hart, an opportunity was perhaps missed?

      As a blogging community(and I know I am the new kid on the block), I feel sad we were not able to establish a coherent voice to put our concerns to them, with Ian Driver.

      The tunnels, and trying to sustain a joined up marketing approach to the visitor economy, is something both parties have lent support to. And a safe, transparent, development at Pleasurama seems key to all this.

      Maybe it will all work out somehow, but certainly I am not inclined to say anymore. It seems to me that Clive Hart needs to speak to Michael urgently.

      Delete
  19. Chris I think the problem here is much more about the nature of opposition, we seem to have a situation where the Conservative group seem to see themselves as the leadership in waiting rather than having any real role as an opposition.

    I am afraid a press release about once a month saying Labour done it wrong isn’t very convincing.

    So assuming you took my point in the previous comment: “Let us say in Broadstairs the whole area behind the main sands was council owned and had turned into a 20 year wreck, that Broadstairs Pavillion was council owned and derelict and the townspeople were suffering from the resultant economic problems.”

    Can we look to any of the Conservative group to offer us positive help with these problems? I would quite understand if you don’t want to do this, but you need to understand that at the moment there is a vacuum caused by the absence of any other opposition voice and Cllr Driver is filling it.

    I wouldn’t want you to consider me a Labour supporter, I think you will find that I and the other local businessmen who are trying to run retail businesses in Ramsgate have formed into Marxist Leninist cells, as a result of eight years of a Conservative administration running the buildings that the council own that once formed the foundation of our tourist industry.

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  20. You could not have illustrated my main point more precisely, Michael, thank you. In September 2012 you were offered just such help through a press release regarding Pleasurama, supporting much of what you wanted. You treated the release with contempt and incredulity - something you recently denied, but go back and have a look - even stating publicly you had contacted a shadow cabinet member to check it was real. The reason? You could not understand how there could be such a difference between what was done in power to what was stated in opposition. That is my point about opposition entirely. It does not have the freedom to oppose everything, unless like the Labour party you are prepared to ditch virtually everything you said in opposition as soon as you have to make real decisions - something mercifully Ian Driver is unlikely to ever have to do. You forgive Labour their tawdry changes absolutely, but savage conservatives if you feel they do the same thing. What do we learn? Its not worth supporting Michael Child in his views, cos he will always twist that support to be used against us. I said to you earlier on this series of comments you need to ditch being so political and take support where it is offered if you wish to succeed.

    Re Broadstairs; it has its own 12 plus year saga around the community centre, which Labour regularly use as a political football without any sense of irony or guilt. It does not involve sea front, but does involve a range of poorly maintained council buidings which blight areas of the town. Once again, you will simply pass this by as being not in Ramsgate.

    Finally, I notice from your blog you do not seem to have visited the Maritime Museum since it's free opening period. For someone who campaigned so strongly to ignore the realities of its cost and benefit implications that seems a little strange. Just a thought about the reality of local support....

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    1. Chris OK lets’ try and stick to something tangible here and avoid my tendencies towards socialism and failures to visit and cover such museums and galleries you think I should have done.

      I hope you will agree that the devastation surrounding Ramsgate’s main sands outweighs any problems associated with Broadstairs and that it is action that is required now and not rhetoric.

      So starting with the Pleasurama issue and what I take as an offer from you to help resolve it.

      My take being that running down the amusements and attempting to acquire the freehold extends back over 20 years now and with the benefit of hindsight there are things that could have been done differently by both parties.

      I would say that taking the period from when SFP appeared on the scene, ostensibly as partners in a Whitbread scheme, the councils main error was a failure to review the situation when Whitbread pulled out.

      My guess is this happened under the Labour administration so you won’t be able to help much here.

      In the period after this we had a Conservative administration, this started with the planning application with myself and others pointing out the height problem and being told that we were too late to object to the plans.

      I don’t think there is much that can be done about this, the plans were passed, I still think that they should not have been and the developer should have been told to go away and design something that fitted in the available space.

      I think where the Conservatives really went off the rails with this one was in 2009 when they decided to carry on with this developer against officer advice. Talking to various council officers it is because of this decision that the council now faces the possibility of considerable liability if they try to get the site back.

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but since that decision the information that the developers bank SBP that produced the underlying fanatical credibility and the evidence of the only major investor, Wetmore the hotelier that was to invest £6m, didn’t actually exist, has come to light.

      There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Wetmore exited either, so obviously the question to the Conservative group, is would they have gone ahead and issued the variation had they realised this.

      If the answer is that they wouldn’t have approved the variation, then this casts doubts both on the validity of the variation and the council’s liability, so I guess if you do want to help it is this area that you could.

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    2. "Take support where it is offered if you want to succeed" A BBC moment Chris? Isn't that what is happening with Cllr Driver - he is offering support (of a sort) and people are taking it

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    3. Some support, Tim, is counter productive and the danger with a clown like Driver is that he reduces the campaign to a laughing stock, easily dismissed by those that choose to do so. Take a look at his blog and still tell me this is someone who can be taken seriously.

      If you want further proof, how could any serious politician involve himself with the Red Hall mob in Broadstairs. Of all the cranky left wing fanatics they take the biscuit and are generally laughed at around the town.

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    4. Tom, Cllr Driver has raised the profile of the absurd decisions behind Pleasurama that has cost us all so dearly. I don't think anyone would expect any more of him.

      As for the "Red Hall Mob" as you call them; Like any group of any political persuasion, any member of the public can experience exasperation at failures to see problems from as many different perspectives as possible, and wish a little more care was taken to get balanced representation when organising public meetings. I would say in their defence, in their latest publication "Thanet Watch", they implore us to become more involved as "Municipal Pests" to get things improved. They also recommend doing things as part of groups and forging alliances as a way of getting noticed and improving the area.

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    5. Solo Gays, in the same rag they also dismiss brave men as aristocratic idiots just because Christine Tongue's Uncle Jack says so in his memories of WWII. I have watched the performance of these people at the annual public meeting of the Broadstairs & St. Peter's Town Council where they ask question after question, often the same question, and exclude other members of the public from the opportunity of doing likewise in the process.
      If they are your scene we are evidently p[oles apart in our views.

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    6. Well, if it is any consolation Tom, I should like to see your take on things represented in their magazine. Someone with first-hand experience always has more credibility.

      Perhaps their beef is about the make-up of the Broadstairs Town Council for some reason?

      Delete
    7. That is the whole point, S G, my take would never get published in their magazine for it would present a picture they do not want to see.

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    8. Tom,

      I wonder if Christine Tongue understands, or even cares, that some of her aristocratic idiots won the VC while barely in their twenties. Who was her Uncle Jack anyway. I despise people like this.

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    9. Well, being born in the sixties, I find it difficult to get a handle on this old class warfare. I thought the purpose of this post is about how far will TDC go in their censorship to do with a particular Development in Thanet.

      Obviously, I have no way of knowing at this present moment in time Tom, if you really would like to write a piece for Thanet Watch, and if you do try to get an article published, would you care to present us with evidence that you have tried?

      Delete
    10. S G, me publishing an article in TW was your idea and certainly not mine for I would not grace such a biased rag. As for class warfare, it is something perpetuated by the far left, Socialist Workers, Militant and Scargill's Real Labour, all things to be found in Driver's CV, and much loved of Tongue and co. Not my scene at all and no better in my view than the likes of BNP on the other extreme.

      You are right that this post is about the seafront development in Ramsgate and the search for information, but it diverted when people, foolishly in my view, started proclaiming Driver as the knight errant in this crusade.

      Delete
  21. Tom
    He must have rattled some cages for them to drag him in for a dressing down.

    I didn't realise that Par Adua etc really meant lie down and let them trample all over you

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    1. He was called in over his encouragement of vandalism and his attacks on the person of other councillors. If there is any lying down going on around here, it is the people who look on Driver and is ilk as some kind of saviours and champions of democracy.

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    2. No Tom, he was called in for publishing part of a "secret" document. You're obviously confusing him with Simon Moores when you said he was called in because of "attacks on the person of other councillors".

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    3. Whatever, Peter, but it was a disciplinary hearing and nothing to do with him rattling cages. Still think people who think Driver is the answer to their prayers have got a nasty shock coming.

      Delete
  22. Solo Gays, just noticed your comment about the Red Hall people perhaps having some beef about the make up of the Broadstairs Town Council. As far as I can see, Broadstairs is probably the most successful of our Thanet towns, still retaining a good tourist trade by not trying to be anything it is not, has some well run and increasingly popoular events and a generally good satisfaction level amongst its residents. That speaks well of its town council.

    That said council is democratically elected and so what possible beef could Christine Tongue and co have. Obviously the council has a right of centre flavour, with just two Labour members, and there is no councillor from either political extreme. It is exactly what one would expect in a small fairly affluent seaside resort. Are you, therefore, suggesting that perhaps the more extreme views of the Red Hall fraternity should somehow be respresented, should the town have an encampment somewhere in its midst of anti-capitalist protestors or maybe some of the town's middle class elderly residents should be transported somewhere else and replaced with a collection of society's less fortunate beings. That should help balance things up a bit and 'transportation' should appeal to the extremist views already oft expressed within TW like officers in HM Forces being aristocratic idiots.

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    1. Allan

      I am sure there is much we can learn from the example of Broadstairs Town Council here in Ramsgate. Since this issue of bias has now been raised, I hope a solution can be found to editorial imbalance.

      As for Christine Tongue, I am sure she would not be so foolish as to raise items of concern to her local Town Council without the backing of at least a credible amount of residents?

      Delete
    2. A handful of her usual followers, several of whom do not even live in Broadstairs, who seem to have rehearsed an orchestrated attempt to hijack the question time at the expense of the genuine residents. As for the editorial imbalance you seem to be forgetting that this is a politically motivated paper where the editorial team of Norman Thomas and Christine Tongue are most unlikely to want an alternative view to that they are attempting to circulate.

      Delete
  23. Yes of course I can see how the use of the name "Red Hall" can inflame old rivalries. My sympathies chime with their anti over-development stance, and, anti secrecy, of course. I am not really in a position to comment much more than that?

    In my own dealings with the authorities over equality issues, I am occasionally reminded that I need to take care over whose views I represent, since some of my communications goes out to many different organisations. The same caution surely needs to be applied with planning issues, when decisions can sometimes be viewed as being forced upon the local population against their will, because they have been decided in relative secrecy.

    ReplyDelete

Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.