Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stuff the Union, we're off to Washington
As Kent embraces the American Dream

Kent council have announced some further details of their participation, of that great moment of history when two countries, were bound together in a common partnership, now you might well be thinking of the celebrations of the great union between Scotland and England which came into effect on the 1st May 1707, 300 years ago, well since the British Government's not about to celebrate the union, Kent aren't either.

Since everyone seems a little embarrassed, in admitting to being British these days, the powers that be at Kent council, have had to go further afield to find something to celebrate, fortunately they have come up with a somewhat tenuous link, with the birth of Jamestown 14th May, 1607 playing down the fact that this British colonial outpost was promptly abandoned in June of the 1609 by 60 survivors of the original 214 settlers.

Now 400 years on, for reasons best known to themselves, Kent County Council, feel it necessary to send 40 people, apparently drawn from all corners of Kent, having been selected by field workers who have spent nearly a year scouring the county to find the best people to represent various folk type themes, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, unfortunately blogging was not one of those crafts being sought, otherwise I might be a tad more positive about the whole thing.

In Kent councils press release the final paragraph is headed ''Fantastic opportunity'' for Kent, now Alex King (deputy leader of KCC) is apparently quoted as suggesting how a vivid picture will be painted of Kent, and how it has so much to offer business and tourists alike, well what you and I are thinking right now, is cut the waffle, what actual tangible benefits have we had so far from this link with the state of Virginia.

KCC have been spending money on this relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia, for some considerable time, the fiasco of flights to Norfolk Virginia from Manston, is still fresh in the memory as are the expenses accrued by Kent representatives visiting that part of the world. Now assuming that this participation of Kent in the 'Roots of Virginia Culture' event is at the expense of the Kent taxpayer, I think we are probably looking at another small fortune, assuming that the 40 participants in the event, are having their expenses met by the council (a two weeks stay in Washington DC with flight in a cheap motel is around £1,000).

My apologies to those individuals taking part, because the chances are that you are giving up your time for this event. However my criticism is levelled at what I see as an inept relationship with the Commonwealth of Virginia, since Kent taxpayers have spent a lot of money, and it was notable that few Americans booked flights on the now abandoned service to Manston. So to my mind we're just pouring more good money after bad. No doubt more Kent officials, will be guests of Virginia (at our expense) in Kents very giving relationship.

I have made inquiries as to the cost, of this event and will of course update you when I know.

Kent news item which omits how much this is costing

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