Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dual Standards in the Council Chamber

Thanet Council appear suspicious of scrutiny, those who were preset last week at the Manston 106 meeting will have been well aware of the warnings at the start of the meeting, not to record, communicate or hold séances during the meeting, least the public get too involved.

Just why Thanet Council members and staff are so fearful is a matter of conjecture, I reckon its some primeval fear, a bit like those in primitive societies who believe that photography will steal the soul. Still more likely they think, they no best, and don’t want the public getting too involved.

A particular target for this fear on the night was Councillor Mark Nottingham who seemed happy enough tapping away on some sort of electronic device, not really doing any harm, still in the excitable mind of Conservative politicians, such behaviour is suspect and Councillor Nottingham was challenged, still he carried on despite these interventions.

I recall at one point an interruption from a startled Cllr Ezekiel who could hear a phone, asking that all present make sure their mobiles were off.

The dual standards? As you can imagine, a big occasion like that meeting, many of the members were inclined to chip in for the benefit of democracy, which meant the meeting overran the starting time for the Cabinet Meeting and during the half hour or so before the end “officers” arrived for the next show, with at least two of them tapping away on mobile devices. I’m sure the Chair would have been in a position spot this, as would the “officers” sat up on high with Cllr Kirby but nobody noticed apart from me and nothing was said?

I myself have no problem with the use of electronic devices in connection with a public meetings as that’s taking part however when officers come into the chamber and are reading emails or sending messages on their phones then someone should say something, just so that we know its all fair. Those officers could presumably have waited outside the council chamber where they could have checked their messages without distracting me

Cllr Mark Nottingham you have my permission to write what you like on what you like during council meetings, just don't be checking your text messages.

Maybe Richard Samuel or his deputy could investigate, why council officers appear to ignore the ban on telephones in the council chamber, and perhaps someone could remind me which "officer" declared that he didn't want members discussing Thanet matters in the press.


  1. Anyone can go to a meeting, there are no secrets, as for Clr Nottingham were lucky he didn't turn up in shorts and a Hawaiian T shirt!

  2. IF the council adopts telephone votes he can wear them on the beach in Hawaii and still vote and use his mobile phone and possibly only possibly not be breaking any rules apart from showing to much skin tone when he has to register to vote by video link