Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kent TV - If at first you don't succeed or best out of three

Events surrounding Kent TV, take yet another extraordinary turn, as a fresh scrutiny meeting is called for the 5th of August, although at the time of writing, the agenda has not been published, it's understood that the subject, will be the renewal of Kent TV's contract, with the Leader Paul Carter and Kent councils chief executive Peter Gilroy and KCC's media specialist Tanya Oliver apparently making themselves available to give evidence.

This subject was discussed a few days ago, during a cabinet scrutiny meeting, at which it was accepted that Peter Gilroy had acted properly in renewing the Kent TV contract having taken legal advice. Although my impression and recollection having seen the video of the meeting, was that the ordinary backbench council members were somewhat, taken aback that no discussion had involved ordinary members of the council.

To me it seems poor judgement that Council Leader Paul Carter, would want to discuss this subject, particularly as nobody was actually being as I recall accused, of any wrongdoing, although it seemed quite natural that the backbenchers who form the committee are clearly concerned about the degree to which decisions are remote from themselves.

Assuming this extraordinary meeting is at the request of the Leader, just what is he trying to achieved, is beyond me, does Paul Carter wish to object to the conclusion that Peter Gilroy had acted properly, does Paul Carter really wish to highlight concerns of backbenchers over governance, or even more remarkable the fact that senior council officers new that a major contract would end, having more than two years' notice and not arrange to put the contract out to competitive tendering, instead extending the current contract for a further seven months.

As I understand currently members of the public are not allowed to submit questions to KCC's Cabinet Scrutiny committee but if they were, I would like to know, why KCC neglected to either cancel the Kent TV project or arrange a proper competitive bidding process to continue it with more than two year notice I'd like to hear the excuse.

The only reason I can think of, for an extraordinary meeting, is because Paul Carter didn’t like the outcome of the previous meeting and wants another roll of the dice, hoping to put some gloss on what seemed an honest conclusion from the previous scrutiny committee, an attempt if you like, to rewrite history, is my conclusion still this whole affair is likely to backfire spectacularly, and I can't wait.

It seems to me that the main body of the Conservative party in Kent are a getting a little tired of the clique that run things in Kent elected or otherwise.

Update Click KCC Agenda for the meeting


  1. sorry for being a little far from kent but have followed with interest. It seems carmarthenshire CC is about to launch it's own 'tv'. Decision making sounds familiar, we have an executive board which rubber stamps officers decisions. It's last meeting discussed the contracts and funding for Carmarthenshire tv, the public were excluded from this. I know about "public interest being outweighed by...etc" but as the council (there are only 170,000 people in Carmarthenshire) already spent £1.2m on self promotion last year without 'tv' I think the more clarity and scrutiny the better.

  2. KENT COUNTY COUNCIL - Cabinet Scrutiny Committee: Public Involvement in Scrutiny Process

    Members of the public may ask to address the Committee on any item already on the agenda. Please note that:-

    (i)requests must be made in advance of the meeting to the Democratic Services Unit and are subject to agreement by the Chairman of the Committee in consultation with the Spokesmen from the other two political parties;

    (ii) in normal circumstances, only one member of the public will be allowed to address the Committee on any item;

    (iii) any member of the public allowed to address the Committee:-

    • must normally have submitted a written statement first (see (b) above);

    • will be allowed to address the Committee for up to 5 minutes to summarise their views, and amplify – but not repeat – any points in their written statement;

    • will then be allowed up to 5 minutes to ask questions of the witnesses (the 5 minutes does not include the time for answers to be given). These questions should be used to seek genuinely new information. Questions must not be asked to which the member of the public already knows the answer.

  3. Having watched the webcast, I think cllr Carter is annoyed because he has been implicated by Cllr Trudy Dean. She had spoken to Cllr Carter regarding the renewal and according to Carter this was a private chat. At the meeting she let it be know that Peter Gilroy had consulted cllr Carter regarding the renewal. I think Carter is annoyed because he is hedging his bets and may want to distance himself from Kent TV without loosing face. Whether it was proper for Gilroy to do this is another matter, it presumed that Carter and the tories would be relected and its a presumption a paid exec should not have made.

    Financially nobody at KCC has published actual figures showing the consequencial saving. And KCC the contracted supplier seems no longer to publish the hit rates. To my mind a value of 5p per viwer would just about be acceptable. but thats 1,000,000 viewers per month. But that would be nealy everbody in Kent watching once. In the first few months Kent TV was getting between 40,000 and 70,000 depending on which councilor you believed.

    Caebrwyn: If the council is just launching a service to broadcast council meetings and the like you may find that useful and an aid to transparency. If it is just funding a service like 'youtube' for local information and this does not become self financing then its a total waste of tax payers' money. In these difficult time there are better things for the council to spend money on.
    In Kent we have web sites that are free to taxpayers that promote Kent (Visitkent.com and Kent newspaper sites) and whereas entering 'Kent' on google will result in some of these being on the first page or two, Kent TV is on page 7. So much for £600,000 p.a. to promote Kent!

  4. Tony, the agenda is on the KCC web site.

    Kent TV is costing us tax payers dear. Its not just the cost of the contract, its all the other senior management and other staff time spent on it. I am sure there are more important things for the staff to be spending their time on.
    As examples:-

    This extra scrutiny meeting must be costing at least £2000 for the chief exec, two other senior staff members, the web team, the note takers and a barrister. On second thoughts that must be £1000 alone just for the barrister! Plus expenses for about a dozen councilors.

    Recently KCC sent all their graduate trainees to visit schools and the like to promote Kent TV.

    The hidden costs just go on and on when most of the public at large are having to watch their spending. If KCC can afford all this staff time on this then they employ too many.

  5. KCC and TDC both seem to have this fixation with big ideas being the things people will judge them on. Turner, Manston, Kent TV, Port Ramsgate, China Gateway. It is, however the big things they have bugger all to do with (Thanet Earth, Dreamland) that will end up being great successes without any public money wasted on them.

    What burns into the memory is the lax attitude and poor performance in simple functions where they have decades of experience. Refuse collection, street cleaning, event organising, money investment.

    By concentrating their efforts on big ticket, sexy deliverables, the bread and butter business of these councils have suffered.

  6. What possible benefit is this meeting the Kent TV decision has been made a fair assessment has been made and no undue criticism of officers.

    what are they playing at!