Thursday, November 30, 2006

Should Britain defend its access to Europe as France paralyses Dover

Thousands of people have over the last two days have been inconvenienced and held to ransom by members of the Calais Chamber of Commerce apparently protesting over the dismissal of a cleaner, as usual I have no knowledge of the facts but it would seem clear to me that the paralysis across Kent and the closure of access to Europe by some piss pot French pressure group is out of all proportion to any perceived harm.

In common with thousands of Kent's commuters I have had hours added to my working week for what I don't know, because I have not had the time to find out.

Perhaps it's time the British government considered options to make free access into Europe something which the people of Calais and northern France can no longer used as an indiscriminate weapon against the people of Britain and Kent in particular, perhaps the United Nations could be deployed in Calais to keep our border open with the rest of Europe.

At the very least hopefully British consumers will boycott the town of Calais itself, which has little to recommend itself unless you're interested in grisly concrete architecture or shops with surly staff, which for some inexplicable reason seem to close at lunchtime for the day.

Beautiful Calais

Fortunately for Calais, the British are too polite and considerate to seek revenge for damage caused by a handful of belligerent unreasonable Frenchman.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Are Labour unwilling to back free speech?

Are Labour able to defend free speech consider this, back in July 2003, the Communications Act became law, a key part of this law was setting up of Ofcom the purpose of which was to act as a single regulator for broadcast media but also the Act reformed rules of Media ownership in order to promote competition and investment in the broadcast industry.

Right now Rupert Murdoch's media empire has purchased a 18 per cent share of ITV this has done absolutely nothing to promote competition or investment in the broadcasting industry what it has done is prevent Richard Branson or anyone else for that matter acquiring ITV and promoting it as an independent voice within the British broadcast media.

At the time of the introduction of the communications act Tessa Jowell had the following comments to make about it
"People often ask me: what is the purpose of government?" then giving this answer: "[To] promote competition and regulate - if we have to - to protect the public, the consumer." "I was - and I remain - totally confident in the strength of the content regulation we have put in place,"
"Ofcom must now deliver a new regulatory system that will be a light touch and unobtrusive wherever possible, but decisive and robust wherever necessary,"

So where is all this leading, who knows certainly the government and the culture Secretary seem blissfully unaware of the implications that BSkyB's purchase of ITV represents to free-speech in this country.

I just wonder what sort of culture Tessa Jowell is promoting on behalf of the Labour Party, when our broadcast media are dominated by a single foreign company, casinos are no longer big enough and we need super casinos, plus promotion of Internet gambling and all this the responsibility of the Culture Secretary who's recently had to revise the cost of the Olympic Stadium from £280 million to a slightly higher £500 million.

I don't have the resources to monitor everything the culture Secretary has to say, what I do find surprising is the lack of any comment over share-ownership in ITV.

I hope I am mistaken and that Tessa Jowell is doing everything possible to protect British media but I doubt it somehow.
Whatever view you have about Rupert Murdoch, or the Murdoch family, do we really need to have majority control of broadcast media in the hands of one family, one can only assume our politicians are hoping for an endorsement from the Murdoch press hence the silence.

Earlier Posting

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tudor House to open for Christmas

The Tudor House in King Street, Margate is to be open to the public on Saturday the 16th December until Wednesday the 20th December.

It is nice to see Thanet council making use of this building, with the help of East Kent Maritime Trust who will be providing the resources to open the building, the house will be decorated in traditional Tudor style Holly Ivy Yew and mistletoe, guides will be on hand to discuss the history of the House and visitors will also be able to purchased arts and crafts.

It's good to see the council doing something positive with this building, which often seems to have been forgotten over the years.

Thanet Council penny pinch this Christmas

The Thanet Gazette this week report that Thanet Council bin men will receive a reduced bonus for Christmas this year, previously they have been used to receiving £150 clear up money, the Council are currently offering £100.

Since many supervisors bosses and office staff, will be taking full advantage of the Christmas break and taking considerably more than two days off, £150 seems a fairly poor reward, for cleaning up after the festivities, whilst many Thanet residents sit in front of a warm glowing television for a week or-so.

If Thanet council need to penny pinch, perhaps we can see greater scrutiny of expense payments and the like made to our local councillors. It has been the custom in the past to pay staff in the waste collection Department, £150 why can't they just continue, surely if the councils that strapped for cash they could make savings by not printing Thanet Matters the Council's propaganda sheet (not only would this save money but there would be less rubbish for our bins).

Still it's not all grim news, if Thanet council fail to relent staff could always go to one of the debt advice events that the council are running. Click here for information

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

East Kent hospitals may close
as health services move into the community

Kent and Medway NHS, are looking for ways, to provide more care in treatment in the community rather than hospitals, apparently they have recently produced a discussion document called 'Kent and Medway Fit for the Future'

The local pressure group CHEK (Concern for Health in East Kent) are expressing fears that there is an agenda already decided presumably including closure of some hospitals.

It seems like only recently we had the debate over hospital services in East Kent, and fortunately this was one of the rare cases where Thanet came out ahead of the game, now it looks as if CHEK have some genuine concerns, however I seem to remember that this particular organisation was more concerned about saving facilities at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, than they were about looking after the interests of Thanet where needs are greater.

Anyway surely the Managers of our local NHS services, would rather trim the numbers of administrators and cut their own salaries before they took a machete to our local hospitals, wouldn't they? unlikely.

CHEK (Concern for Health in East Kent) website

BBC Radio Kent story


Monday, November 20, 2006

Saddam Hussein's trial unfair?

According to the organisation Human Rights watch, serious administrative, procedural and substantial legal defects mean that the trial of Saddam Hussein was unfair.

I am inclined to believe this to be true, although my reason is slightly different, I believe that instead of Saddam Hussein being tried by a judge and having defence lawyer's to assist him, that maybe he should have been treated similarly too many of his victims but that would be too barbaric.

I wonder how Saddam's victims, those that survived feel, it's easy for liberal organisations to criticise, but most would probably feel that Saddam has had a fair trial.

Human Rights Watch

Pick up the phone whilst you still can

A study by the British heart Foundation, has found that 42 per cent of people prefer to wait-and-see before calling emergency services when experiencing chest pains. Every year a quarter of a million people in the UK have heart attacks on which roughly a third died before reaching hospital frequently because they have delayed asking for help.

Apparently British reserve is to blame for people's reluctance to call 999, but the advice from the British heart Foundation is contact the emergency services as soon as you suspect your having a heart attack, since early treatment will improve your recovery.

I recently had chest pains myself, and sought medical treatment straight away, although fortunately nothing was wrong I feel no guilt in using the health service, having known someone in their early Thirties, die from heart disease I realise that their claims are not exaggerated.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nationwide security lapse no worries

News that the Nationwide have had a laptop containing details of their 11 million customers stolen is quite disturbing. One of the reasons I Bank with Nationwide, is the fact that they still use call-centres in Britain to handle their customer services unlike my previous Bank HSBC who seem to rely heavily on overseas calls centres. Till now I have felt that call centres based in the UK are more secure and obliged to comply with data protection laws unlike overseas call centres who are used in the main because they are cheap and the staff are desperate to earn good money.

It certainly seems on the face of it, to be one hell of a lapse in security to allow an employee to take home details of 11 million customers on their laptop. Just what the employee of Nationwide intended to do with information on 11 million account-holders is beyond comprehension, surely they weren't going to send them Christmas cards.

According to Nationwide's own website the information did not give account numbers or security details, but it is still disturbing, I will continue to use them because they give good service and employ people in the UK.

Click here for Nationwide's alert

PS one of the biggest scams on the Internet is Phishing (where crooks set-up a fake bank website and try to get your details) if you update your browser to Internet Explorer 7, this now comes with a Phishing filter which alerts you to many bogus sites.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Inland Revenue improve tax credit efficiency
Back in June HM Revenue and Customs were kind enough to send me and my wife, a letter each, confirming that we had been awarded the grand sum of £0.00, with the letter there also came a handy 36 page A4 size booklet explaining the details.

Well obviously since then, things have moved on and the HM Revenue and Customs have become vastly more efficient, this week we received a far more economical letter which apart from having our names and a national insurance numbers was otherwise completely blank with this letter was a small leaflet, with helpful tips such as, it only takes one quick call to let them know of any changes, well I had a long call with them more than two years we were no longer eligible for tax credits and still they send useless info.

You have the final say on biking!

First off, I have been writing this blog since April, in that time I have written approximately 300 odd posts most of which have been crap. Out of the 300 posts only one, touched on biking, the rest were a mixture of politics local news and anything I chose.

Now nowhere do I claim, to be an expert in anything, least of all biking, right or wrong also in my profile I suggest that facts should be checked because quite simply this web blog is based on my opinions.

Now unlike many Web blogs, I take responsibility for what I say up front, unlike others. Also I often criticise, people such as politicians and celebrities who put themselves into the public arena so I cannot complaint if I get some criticism.

I would point out, that I have no malice towards any road user least of all Bikers whom I've always considered to be more vulnerable than others with the exception of cyclists of which I am one. Nowhere on this website have I ever suggested harming any road user.

I simply reacted to people I don't know and who don't know me giving me abuse. I'll leave you with a comment, from one of the contributors (of which there were a few) which as far as Safety is concerned I agree with, and since my original posting concerned the Minister of Transport perhaps he would like to comment ?

Corona said...
Hello Tony,I think you have the reaction from Motorcyclists you were possibly hoping for.I can only hope that no serious incident is caused by your comment about brake lights.If you find that someone elses driving/riding makes you uncomfortable let them pass and continue on their way,it can be the only safest option for all concerned.Comments and actions like yours however published will cost someone their life.Live with that thought.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tony Blair confirms US puppetry

Tony Blair yesterday confirmed just how much of a lap dog he has become for the American nation, people know how pro-American I am, but even I draw the line at the Prime Minister giving evidence to a inquiry over Iraq, since the government appears to have ruled out any question of an inquiry into Britain's role in Iraq, Tony Blair's most recent toadying to America is remarkable.

Britain had a key role in coming up with apparently bogus information about Saddam Hussain's weapons of mass destruction, resulting in the death of thousands of people, perhaps Tony Blair could now help explain some of the mistakes that have been made in Iraq rather than be at the beck and call of the Yanks.
Full access to comment feature resumed

Despite all the abuse I have been receiving, I have switched off the comments moderation, so feel free. Although naturally I retain the ability to delete anything too offensive
Bikers from hell not Hull

Since yesterday afternoon, I have been receiving abusive offensive comments referred from three Internet websites these are,13349.0.html
All these abusive, remarks presumably come from motorcyclists who apparently took exception to me objecting to transport minister Steven Ladyman's opposition to improved European Union road safety laws.

I will admit that my knowledge of motorcycling is limited and all I know of motorcycling is what I have heard from owners and riders of motorbikes, who seem always to delight in stories of excessive speed.

Perhaps my biggest failing, as far as motorcyclists are concerned, is my ignorance concerning the motorcycle lane, now what I do know about the motor cycle lane, is that only a motorcycles are allowed to use it, the lane markings are completely invisible to any other road user, and there is generally an unmarked motor cycle lane on every road.

How do you spot, the motorcycle lane? Well this can be difficult, but on a motorway , the motorcycle lane will be in the middle of two lanes, perhaps the best example of this is on the M2/A2 and can be observed at peak times, what you will generally notice, is a motorcyclists hanging very close to your vehicle generally to the left-hand side of your lane, then when the traffic is at almost peak congestion but it still travelling at speed and a whilst you're concentrating on the traffic in front, you suddenly realise, that effectively, you are driving for two, not only do you have to consider your reactions to the traffic flow, you now have to consider the reactions of a motor cyclist, you don't know who is either dangerously close to your rear bumper, or alternatively trying to find a blind-spot, somewhere to the left of your vehicle.

The motorcycle lane, on a minor road, will generally make itself apparent when you realise that you have either a motorbike or scooter 3 ft from your rear bumper, you can as I do gently tap on the brakes(NOT SLOW BUT TO ILLUMINATE THE BRAKE LIGHTS) , so that the bike rider is aware of the danger, although generally this provokes a hostile reaction.

One of thing you must remember with the motorcycle lane, normal traffic laws are suspended for the motorcyclists.

I suggest you, look at my previous posting on this matter, read-through the comments and at least be thankful that the correspondents have been polite, informative, non-threatening, non-sexist, non homophobic and reasonable dispelling those terrible stereotypical views.

Again I would say it looks like someone orchestrated the abuse, which I received yesterday and presumably will continue you to receive.

I suggest any of my critics get their own at blogsite, stop intimidating people.

Perhaps the most insulting of these remarks found on the above Web links are those that suggests that I hate motorcyclists this is not the case, most of the contributors are clearly filled with so much hate and bigotry, perhaps they just need a big hug wonder if David Cameron would oblige.

It's a pity the administrators, of these motorbikes sites allow such appalling abuse of someone they don't know.

Comment moderation turned on

Please note that I have turned on comment moderation temporarily, due to the higher than normal level of abuse I am receiving.

I will endeavour to allow all posts, however I would point out, I usually get all the abuse I need, from my work mates, so stick to the point.
Prisoners cash-in on Human Rights

Once again convicted criminals, who have little consideration for the victims, have scored yet another victory, this time our tough Home Office appear to have capitulated by offering well over £3,000 to nearly 200 'cold turkey' prisoners.

Wouldn't it be great, if John Reid, were to put in a claim for Housekeeping for looking after these claimants, it seems they criminals have too many rights and absolutely no responsibilities or shame.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Welcome to the Bikers from Hull

No you haven't miss read, it does say Hull and not Hell. Seems as if I have offended, the motor cycling community of Hull and Yorkshire, uncharacteristically I have been the recipient of some rather abusive comments, now good manners and refined behaviour are something I always associate with Hull particularly given one of their more prominent representatives, Deputy Dawg, John Prescott who has a reputation for a polite and mild mannered nature.

So what is my crime, well basically I have had the audacity to suggest in a previous posting that local MP for Thanet South and also Transport Minister was wrong in criticising the EU's proposals to make all road-users drive with their headlights on with the effect of possibly saving 2000 lives a year.

I asked that Mr Ladyman, produce some evidence to back up his claims that such legislation could lead to more deaths, and suggested that his comments might just be macho posturing and EU bashing.

Judging by the well-thought-out comments that have now been left on this posting, clearly I was mistaken, the motorcycling community are sophisticated and tolerant people. I would like to thank the contributors for the many regional variations, of some of our more popular swear words, click here (it may give you some tips on etiquette should you wish to visit Hull or Yorkshire)

I would just like to say, it seems a rather spooky, almost as if someone orchestrated the amount of comments deposited on my rather quiet backwater of the Internet, also interesting the 20 odd comments are all anonymous and mostly sent during office hours.

Anyway since most of this traffic has emanated from Hull and Yorkshire one thing I'm sure of his they must be right because I have never known a Yorkshireman to be wrong yet ever!
So for my new leather-clad readers enjoy!

Finally some of the new correspondents, seem to think that I am, some southern toff, as much as I, would like to feed this prejudice, I spend more time with a shovel than a keyboard.

Hull and Yorkshire Bikers click here to be enlightened

Monday, November 13, 2006

Liberals to assist recruitment for BNP?

Gordon Brown is apparently calling for tougher laws over the incitement of racism after a second trial against the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, failed to result in a conviction.

Now without a doubt, the views of Nick Griffin, and the BNP are extreme and unpalatable to the majority of us. As a reaction to this acquittal, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has stated ''any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country'' he then goes on ''We have to root it out. If that means that we have to look at the laws again, I think we will have to do so.''

Nick Griffin, was tried twice, in the first instance I believe that a jury was unable to reach a verdict, and in this most recent trial he has been acquitted, and whilst many people would like to see Nick Griffin and his ilk silenced, it looks as if the government would like to do this by deliberately changing the law, something to me which seems reminiscent of many Banana republics.

I have not acquainted myself, with the facts of the case, because I have no wish to sift through the BNP website, but I understand the theme of his speech was that Islam has some very disturbing elements, something which you could presumably say about Christian and Jewish religions etc, now believe it or not, to me there appears to be a mirror image of BNP bigotry in other communities, so would it not be best, to allow these extremes of view to be exercised as part of our traditional free speech.

About a year ago, the government failed to introduce a law on religious discrimination, which would have had the effect, of making any theological debate illegal, saving our freedom of speech for a little longer.

The fact is the liberals who run our government and institutions somehow think they have a God-given right to know what is best for us, also the educated middle-class think that the ordinary British public are incapable of distinguishing between the twisted arguments of racist bigots and genuine concerns of working people who are most affected by social policy of multiculturalism.

If Gordon Brown, wishes to curtail free speech and honest debate about the country's changing social mix, then he is likely to become one of the best recruiters for fascist organisations since Oswald Moseley.

Personally I have rarely, voted Tory, so I am unlikely ever to vote fascist, but the refusal of mainstream politicians, to acknowledge the social divide caused by multiculturalism is pushing many towards the BNP.

Suggest you read Rod Liddle from the Sunday Times

Alternatively Melissa Kite the Telegraph

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hornby cements Airfix future

Hornby has acquired assets of Humbrol Ltd including Airfix model kits, they intend to move sales, marketing and distribution to their Margate base, they are paying £2.6 million in cash for the business.

There is no reason to doubt that Hornby will be successful with their acquisition, they certainly have the expertise in selling this type of product, it's just unfortunate that along with many British companies they are very good at sales and marketing but are unlikely to manufacture the Airfix brand in this country.

My children's generation who were bought up on computers and games consoles and are probably unaware of the Airfix brand but for my generation those roughly 40 to 50 there will be plenty of nostalgia. I personally have spent many a happy hour glueing parts of Spitfires, Lancasters together sometimes to the correct corresponding piece sometimes to my mother's dining-table but most frequently to my fingers.

I understand that part of their plans involve simpler products than in the past, aimed at a younger market this can only be a good thing, believe it or not I never bothered reading the instructions so many of my models even when fresh from the Tony Flaig production-line looked as if they've had a nasty encounter perhaps with a Fokker Wolf 190.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Multiple rapist could be free in under four years' time!

Perhaps it's me, but it appears that news values are not what they used to be, I'm sure there was a time in the past when the conviction of a multiple rapist in Margate would have been front-page news, not page six, of the Thanet Times and would probably
have made it quite prominently in to many of the national papers.

It must be some sad reflection of our times, and our liberal judiciary, that a man can rape three women and be eligible for parole in under four years time. Perhaps such leniency might just be acceptable, in some quarters, if this case, involved one incident fuelled by drugs perhaps combined with some misunderstanding, however that is not the situation because, the rapist in this case whilst on bail for the first rape, offended twice more knowing the seriousness of his original crime.

Judge Anthony Webb, gave rapist Qadar Hazarmeshe an indeterminate sentence, which means he cannot be released until the authorities are satisfied that he is fit for release and does not pose any threat to the community, reassuring isn't it, particularly since the authorities, allowed him to be bailed for the first rape enabling him to commit two more.

Not unexpectedly, no order has been made to deport this man, apparently in the past Hazarmeshe, claimed to have fought the Taliban in his native Afghanistan, is it any surprise, I don't think the Taliban are to keen on rapists either.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jon Snow Channel 4 news reader
too self-important for Poppy?

According to many of today's newspapers Jon Snow, one of the presenters on Channel Four's news programme, has been receiving complaints from viewers for not wearing a poppy whilst presenting the news. In response to this he has stated on the Channel 4 news blog that 'there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there' quite what this means, I'm not sure.

Now many commentators agree that our armed forces have fought and sacrificed themselves for freedom, free speech, our liberty, independence for Britain, which is true and Jon Snow also states his respect for their sacrifice. Even states towards the end of his blog "there really must be more important things in life than whether a news presenter wears symbols on his lapels" this being the case, why not wear a poppy and stop being so self important.

It seems that Jon Snow, feels that if he wears a poppy on air, then naturally it follows, he should, then wear symbols of various charity organisations, well I don't think this is the case, for what ever reason throughout the years the armed services of this country have made great sacrifices, for the British people as a whole and in comparison, his failure to conform just seems like the actions of a prima Donna.

channel 4 news room blog

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cash for honours probe

According to reports from the BBC up to five Cabinet ministers have been asked by the police for interviews, is this a sensible use of police resources, the plain and simple truth is that over the years, businessmen, trade unions, and other organisations have contributed towards party political funds, and presumably such arrangements haven't been entirely benign.

When a business, makes a contribution towards, say the Tory party presumably they expect some concessions, where by legislation aides there business, so what if the Labour Party have been slightly more honest with some of their business contributors and had the decency to offer a place in the House of Lords by way of thanks.

Let's face it, we don't live in a total democracy by any means, for our democracy to operate political parties need funding, and since the British public are fairly apathetic, many never bothering to even vote, let alone dip their hands in their pockets, where are political parties meant to get their money from? The taxpayer.

Wealthy people and organisations have always used their financial muscle, to influence our politicians one way or another so really, where's the beef?

I think our police have more important things to concern themselves with particularly in a week when yet another deluded British citizen (Dhiren Barot) has been convicted for conspiring to bomb the people of this country.

Liberals will no doubt be offended, but one thing's for sure, politicians will always be open to persuasion for money, and extreme religious fanatics will always be happy to murder the enemies of whatever stone-age deity they happen to believe in, me I know, which of these PC Plod should concentrate.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Royal disappointment from the Times

Yesterday as I perused the news stands for a newspaper to entertain me during my lunch break, I could hardly contain my joy when I noted that the Times (not the Thanet one), was giving away a wall poster, charting the family tree of our noble and wonderful Royal family which even now is decorating the floor of my study (spare room) my happy and complacent mood however was abruptly derailed on page 33 as I slurped my way through the fruit salad I'd purchased at the same time.

You ask yourself, what could have upset me, well the terrible truth is that second in line to the throne Prince William, was apparently refused entry to the Club class lounge on P & O ferries Pride of Kent on route to Calais, it's not as if this was some Oik trying to bludge his way into somewhere he wasn't entitled, imagine the rejection the Prince must feel, how could they.

According to the Times report, the company admitted that it was embarrassed, I know how Prince William feels, recently when I travelled with Continental Airlines to America, the check-in staff made some fuss of the fact I would be spending my 50th birthday abroad, briefly I thought I'd struck gold and would be upgraded into business class from my normal seat at the back of the plane, needless to say it didn't happen however we did get exceptional service no in-flight entertainment until the last two hours of the flight, no explanation, no apology not even the obligatory thank you for flying with us, as you got off, in short I got what I paid for.

Welcome to the real world of Prince William, and your brief encounter with how the other 99. 999 percent live.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Derelict Kent colliery to be transformed

Plans have been submitted to Dover council, to redevelop Snowdown colliery, the South East England Development Agency wish to turn part of this site into business space, and also create a 30 hectare country Park.

The regeneration of Snowdown, would apparently create 400 new jobs, obviously nowhere near as impressive, as the 3500 employed during the peak of the Kent coalfield but this new development can only be good for East Kent.

The photograph taken outside Snowdown gates, last year, perhaps gives some indication of the bitterness still felt in parts of the local community, as the chalked sign on the left of the picture carries the legend 'Welcome to Thatcher's handy work'.

Whatever your political standpoint, the decimation of the coal industry, appeared savage at the time, and I wonder, as North Sea gas reserves decline rapidly, and we soon become increasingly dependent upon Russia for much of our domestic fuel supply, whether we will become increasingly nostalgic about our past Coal Industry, perhaps even reconsidering the possible economic benefits of having an additional source of carbon fuels such as coal.

Turner contemporary (Pier Project)

Someone at KCC kindly sent me a copy, of a report detailing technical and financial analysis of what Paul Carter(KCC Leader) called 'Turner offshore' , I referred to as 'Turner debacle' , and now appears as the 'Pier Project' this obviously details facts and figures on the aborted Turner gallery ( Snohetta and Spence ) project.

Now I am unaware as to whether this report is available on the KCC website, but it's probably not, however should you require a copy I am sure that someone at Kent council will assist you, as part of the freedom of information Act click here for contact details, alternatively I have a pdf copy, which I could e-mail.

Now to be honest, this report tells you a reasonable amount about the facts and figures, the disappointing thing, is that it doesn't detail meetings or correspondence involved in the debacle nor a final figure of money wasted when this project was finally terminated.

What would perhaps be more pertinent, would be some report, that gave details of at what point realisation occurred, that the previous Turner contemporary Gallery project was hopelessly over-budget and totally unrealistic, when Edmund Nuttall Ltd, presented the final fixed price of £39 million back in February this year, what was the reaction of Kent council representatives, for instance did anyone use the F-word (farrago) I know I would.

I suppose we will never know who finally realised this was a complete Bollix, and set in motion cancellation of the Turner Debacle Gallery.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Thanet Council's commitment to open government

Above you will see a copy of an advert, found on page 13 of last Friday's Gazette. Great open government at its best, it would appear that Thanet council have cocked up a 'planning matter', and as a result the ombudsman has found that an injustice has resulted due to maladministration.

As you can see copies will be made available, for inspection during normal office hours and the council apparently has to consider the report within three months, noting action to be taken etc etc.

Nothing could be clearer than this, except no details of the council's injustice, or any hint of their misdemeanour, so if you wanna know, you have to traipse down to the council offices in Cecil Street, during normal office hours (whatever that may be, my office hours are from 5:45am through to approximately 6:00pm).

The thing that annoys me, is I actually ignored this advertisement until today assuming this was some insignificant little notice, and part of Thanet District Councils generous advertising budget, which appears to be limitless (perhaps Richard Samuel TDC chief executive might wish to investigate as part of cost savings), if the council were in any way sincere or repentant for their sins, you might think that information concerning this matter whatever it is would be published on their website, unfortunately this is not the case.

Perhaps if you are Richard Samuel, or even our esteemed leader of the council Sandy Ezekiel, you could give us a hint as to what this is all about.

As many residents will realise, Thanet council over the years, has gained a reputation, for honesty, integrity, competence etc what a pity if this were now sullied, by sweeping this rare cock-up under the carpet, why deny working people such as myself, the opportunity to study this report, it is not possible for me to visit, the council offices in working time, therefore I will be unable to assess this matter personally, presumably the whole point of having a government of ombudsman, is to make local government accountable and honest.

Thanet council, should just bung a copy of this report on the Internet, otherwise it looks, as if they are trying to forget they are accountable to the public.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thanet Council tinker rather than manage

News in this weeks Isle of Thanet Gazette that the chief excutive Richard Samuel has drawn up a consultation document suggesting axing two posts, in order to save over they £100,000 seemed to me, to be tinkering rather than managing a situation, in common with many local authorities Thanets management and administration has grown out of all proportion to the actual need.

A few weeks ago I suggested, that I could not see a great difference between a department dealing with Regeneration and one that deals with Renewal, nor do I quiet understand why we need 80 staff to deal with housing and council tax benefit, the 160 people in the customer services or even a resources department with a meagre 60 people.

I think Richard Samuel, and Sandy Ezekiel, in all honestly ought to be looking at fundamental change to work practices and staffing levels.

Sandy Ezekiel is reported as saying 'We want to keep to a 3.5 to 4.5 per cent maximum tax increase and we have to plan ahead, these are efficiency savings' , great as someone who doesn't get an automatic gift from taxpayers every year in the form of a wage increase. What I would like to see is a zero increase in council tax.

Businesses are generally ruthless, in controlling staff costs these days, so if the council are unable to make efficiency savings by curbing the number of staff to do menial tasks maybe they should consider as many banks and insurance companies do, outsourcing clerical functions abroad.

Why do public servants employed or elected see my wallet as some of limitless resource to be plundered just to keep their mediocre bureaucracy ticking over.

If there was a political will, by our local councillors, rising costs could be curbed by efficiency savings however Mr Samuel whom I understand to be an appointee/employee of the Council, according to the Gazette does not want to consider Council wide restructuring as this would cause too much disruption to the authority, well I say tough titties, current acceptance that we should pay an additional 4 to god knows what percent every year is frankly unsustainable.

I'm sure that when Sandy Ezekiel was campaining during the last local elections he claimed the tories had some big ideas, well I still waiting. Why not focus on giving me a zero increase on council tax.
Saddam Hussein to hang

At last the verdict that everyone expected, and Saddam is at last going to pay for his crimes against humanity. It's at times like this, that I wonder whether the authorities in Iraq be they, locals or coalition forces should have acted in such a civilised manner as to give this barbaric monster a fair trial.

Emotionally probably along with 90 per cent of the world, I would like to have seen Saddam Hussein left in the hole, in which he was found behaving in time honoured way of all evil dictators by hiding from his victims and the forces of justice.

But because most of the world is civilised, we have given this scum, a fair trial, and months for which Saddam has no doubt rationalised and justified in his own mind, his many years of raping, murdering and torturing his own citizens, and now he wishes to lodge an appeal.

He as also requested a firing squad, personally I think hanging is about right for this person, for one it is not instant, and secondly I believe it is probably more environmentally efficient and carbon neutral.

Still because we're civilised, we give people a fair trial even when we know they are not worthy of such behaviour. For humanitarian grounds I personally think he would have been much better though, if someone had just put a bullet into the back of his head when he was originally captured, I think his continued life has in some way encouraged his followers to continue their murderous sectarian campaign in Iraq.

Lets hope his sentence is carried out swiftly and humanely, he doesn't deserve it but the world does.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Road operatives on £53,000 a year

Shock horror, the story reported in most of our tabloid newspapers yesterday including the Daily Mirror click here about Birmingham City council manual workers receiving above average pay packets.

I must admit I am slightly envious myself, and note that this is a gift of a story particularly for the likes of the Daily Mail and Express whose readers are in the main lower-middle-class Tories, but I wonder what's really eating these tabloid hacks and editors, is the fact that some working-class oik is almost earning as much as they do.

I say good luck to the employees of Birmingham City Council, why shouldn't they earn good money, it's easy enough to sit in a warm office with a cup of coffee typing up a load of old Bollix as many journalists do, I just wonder how they would fare out in the wind and rain dodging traffic whilst maintaining our country's roads, not very well I would imagine.

Perhaps a journalist could be found, to go out into the cold, investigate the risk, the amount of work done and then report with bit of balance and we would know whether these road workers earn their money or not I think they probably do.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Religious interference I've had enough

Is it now time, to outlaw religious interference in everyday life. The last few months seem to have been dominated by what I can only describe as religious nutters.

Whether it is the Middle-East, where barbaric crimes are committed on a daily basis by various religious factions or loopy interference in our daily lives by Christians Jews or whatever is it not time that the media stopped reporting every jumped up spokesperson for religious factions in our society.

Two stories, in the last week also seem to exemplify what I mean, last week I believe that Prince Charles (apparently a fairly mystical person himself) seems to be proposing that he have 2 coronations, admittedly I didn't read any detail because the whole idea in itself, is nauseating, but if I'm guessing correctly one coronation will be for Christians and the other for a multitude of other faiths, why not have one for cynical atheists such as myself, in fact why bother, please may we have a Republic where I could be a citizen and not a subject of the Royal family who are themselves just so many random chromosomes.

The other story of religious interference, comes from the Reverend George Hargreaves a Pentecostal minister who in a previous time was a music mogul, and has apparently promised £50,000 to a group of firemen who have been disciplined, for refusing to hand out safety leaflets at some gay pride do, I personally think that gay or not people, are entitled to this sort of information and, public employees such as firemen, should not pick and choose who they give safety information to.

I believe that humanity has evolved since, the Middle Ages and it is about time, religious groups took responsibility for their intolerance, bigotry and harm done.