According to that rare exponent of political commentary in Kent, Paul Francis, Kent Messengers political editor, Kent TV is once again immersed in controversy.
He reveals in his "blog" that at a recent meeting, both Councillor Trudy Dean (Liberal Democrat) and cllr Roger Manning (conservative) quizzed the chief executive Peter Gilroy as to whether there had been a conflict of interests in extending the contract, for Kent TV, as he is also the chairman of the board of governors for Kent TV. The council's cabinet scrutiny committee accepted Mr. Gilroy had acted properly having taken a legal advice.
That said there was a pretty big "HOWEVER" this from Pauls article "Some of the strongest criticism coming from Conservative backbenchers on the committee. Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) said that "it failed the public interest test" while fellow Conservative James Scholes said it was "inconceivable" that the public wouldn't think there had been a possible conflict of interest."
Mr. Gilroy apparently told KM's Paul Francis that he was "puzzled" by concerns expressed, now I have to say for myself, I'm not puzzled, that he was puzzled , having on more than one occasion, received email replies which seemed to side step the issues, I’d raised including the one I received offering the chance meet the great man(which I declined).
Kent TV has failed achieve one of its main goals which was to save costs and attract self funding it seems surprising that a seven month extension to what has proved an expensive contract was even consider, since there seems no political will, in as much as Paul Carter’s Tory’s didn’t even mention it in their recent manifesto.
Clearly Peter Gilroy, Chief Exec, is interested in Media, since in addition to being Chairman of the Board of Kent TV, he also happens to be a member of Kent Film & Television Board (vice chair), which recently announced an investment of some £75,000 ploughed into a film ‘The Calling’, starring Brenda Blethyn, who also is a member of Kent Film & Television Board (Chair).
The film has been extensively reported in local media, whether this is another of those contentious areas remains to be seen, one worry I had was the investment, all the reports I saw, failed to ascertain whether KCC would get money back if the film proved a success and after some weeks probing I was told that money would be repaid.
Kent has now decided to lob £200,000 a year into film investment it will be interesting whether we emerge with Hollywood Maidstone or more likely Follywood. This you will note is another of those diversions from normal local government its claimed that the £75 grand invested has seen a £500,000 spend in Kent, bit like Reaganomics a rather fanciful idea.
We might have to wait a few years for the true story to emerge as to whether Kent council, are right to invest in media, perhaps when and if the KCC Film Office, funds “Peter Gilroy” the movie, which along with the odd documentary on Kent TV (Bob Geldoff reminisces) will we then be able to fully assess Kent’s Film & TV experiment.
Since the subject of this post is “conflicts of interest”, I ought myself to declare my own interest, inasmuch as around this time last year, Ten Alps contractors for KCC who happened to produce Kent TV, took exception to my comments concerning Kent Council and freemasons, as regular readers will know, eventually after some pressure, King Council accepted that I was entitled express opinions in line with the European convention of human rights. All in all KCC and its contractor could have saved themselves some publicity.