Friday, January 05, 2007

Thank you from Thanet council leader but for what?
Festive Rubbish !

Commentating on the thousands of local residents who've not had their bins emptied for two weeks, Sandy (Thanet is beautiful) Ezekiel is quoted in today's Isle of Thanet Gazette as follows '' I would like to thank all the residents living in those parts of Thanet, which were affected by the festive rubbish collection changes for their support over this busy time'' what?

Now I am probably amongst the few who have been unaware of the popular support for our local councils suspension of refuse collection during the Christmas period, presumably their have been mass demonstrations of support and affection for the local council outside their offices in Margate with joyous locals presenting bouquets of flowers to officials inside.

To think I had been under the delusion that residents of Thanet shared my annoyance that the council could not come up with a plan to deal with piles of rotting rubbish their most basic function.

Whilst contemplating the council's inability to deal with the basic public health issues I am probably also the only one considering the council's poor financial performance as once again we are informed of yet another inflation-busting increase of 4.5% to our council tax bills this year.

Admittedly Christmas is only once a year but it is every year so you would imagine the council could come up with a plan to deal with household waste.


  1. Bank holidays always disrupt waste collection routes, at Christmas when you have the new year holiday shortly afterwards the disruption is worse. With wheelie bins the effects will be less stressful as most rubbish will be covered in the bins.

    If only the calculation of council tax depended solely on the costs of the current services! The bulk of council tax rises relate to the governments settlement for local authorities, which makes up the bulk of their income. Council tax across the country is about 25% of local authodity income (here in the south east a bit higher because of the governments moving money up north through their changing formulae for calculating support) so a 1% loss in government settlement equals a 4% rise in council tax. That is what chiefly drives council tax levels. Plus the government often loads local authorities with new duties and directed expenditure within the settlement. Then they cap those who have to up council tax to make up the difference. Government drives council tax levels much more than local requirements, make no mistake.

  2. Chris This administration and others before it for whatever reason do not have the inclination to try and make the council more efficient.

    There appear to be hundreds of functionaries employed by the council who presumably will be getting pay increases this year as every year without any improved productivity, if our local councils were businesses there would long ago have been a riot by the shareholders.

    I just feel that it is time that Sandy Ezekiel show some leadership and look at ever escalating costs and perhaps took a machete the council's administration.

    As an outsider it looks as if the local Tory group spend more time back-stabbing and plotting against each other than serving the community.

  3. Your presumption Tony is absolutely wrong. This administration has cut back on a number of areas, in the main to be able to afford to bring refuse collection back in house and improve the service. The result over the last couple of years is to have been criticised (wrongly) as having a black hole in its finances, when the black hole was actually about creating space to bring in house refuse collection.

    At least one depasrtment has been seriously rationalised in the run up to Christmas, and there is an ongoing review to keep the council as lean as we are able to afford.

    A decade or so ago Sandy Bruce Lockhart took a knife to KCC cutting 1 in 4 of all jobs, creating the leaner fitter machine it is today achieving excellent CPA ratings.

    These things do not usually make the headlines, are often unpopular, and have to be done to keep council tax affordable - but we have a long list of statutory duties to fulfill and that does require bodies to do it.

    After 10 years of labour government the public payroll, in general, has never been more bloated, swollen and inefficient. The billions poured into the NHS have produced little in the way of productivity improvement, nor in the police, the civil service, or the endless lists of quangos. North of Watford Gap the % of people employed by the public purse is climbing daily.

    It is an unmitigated disaster for our economy and way of life, but no one has yet noticed. Within the confines of what government demands we do, I promise at both District and county level we are always looking to keep the head counts down and the machine as efficient as we are able.

  4. Chris Thanks for the enlightenment assuming what your saying is correct, then maybe your glorious leader Sandy (Thanet is beautiful) Ezekiel could do himself some favour by rather than endlessly referring to cafe society and public events that Thanet council has subsidised for the benefit of the public. Maybe were he to concentrate on publicising the nuts and bolts of his administration people might just look on him with a little more respect.

    Personally I'm yet to be convinced, as an example, I understand from the council, it employees 80 people just to deal with housing benefit.

    Also I am told that some councillors themselves are paid by the public purse so presumably the more inefficient the council the more they can justify charging Joe public for the privilege of their services.

    Still I am sure you can disabuse me, as you know I don't allow facts to get in the way of a good argument.

  5. The calculation and distribution of housing benefit is a statutory duty, carried out in a precise and tightly defined manner on behalf of government. In an area of social disadvantage there will be more claimants than in some other areas and the number of applications to be processed is larger. These must be processed in defined ways to defined timescales, so one might expect a poorer area to employ more people in this department than in a richer area.

    Councillors all have an allowance they can claim to cover the time given over to council duties. Backbench councillors at TDC get a little over £4000 per year. Cabinet members, chairs and vice chairs of main committees and shadow cabinet members all get additional sums for their additional responsibilities - from memory cabinet around £6000 per year, shadow cabinet around £1200 per year. All of these allowances are taxable, and can be declined by the recipients if they feel they can make do without them. The allowances are suggested by a remuneration panel run jointly with Dover District Council, and I do not think we have ever taken the full amounts recommended by that panel.

    Speaking personally, I am always very conscious of the impact that council tax rises will have on our community. Council Tax in general is way too high, but I must reiterate this is more the fault of government than any local decisions.