Thursday, August 06, 2009

Kent TV more dual standards? and councillors groan at mention of Bignews

The webcast of yesterdays meeting is now available, the reason it was called, seems trivial to me but clearly important to those for whom it was requested. Having had chance to see the thing from the beginning I'm not much wiser.

Firstly much of the meeting was devoted to the fact the earlier scrutiny cabinet meeting, had discussed the process of giving Ten Alps a fresh contract for Kent TV and the role of council officers, who had not been present at the prior meeting.

It was felt that it was not entirely correct to have done so, which leads me to the apparent dual standards, in discussing this the Chair of the original Committee was not present, but this didn’t stop mention of her role in the previous meeting.

So in the haste to accommodate Peter Gilroy & fellow officer Tanya Olivier Leader Paul Carter presumably a further discourtesy? has occurred by mentioning Trudy Dean in her absence, which I believe Paul Carter did on more than one occasion. This meeting clearly could have waited till September.

Anyhow if you’d like to assess just how pointless this meeting was, I suggest that you listen to how upset acting chairman Roger Manning is about the previous meeting.

Still one light point was a reference to an earlier Bignews Margate Headline (Kent TV - If at first you don’t succeed or best out of three) clearly pretty influential, in the corridors of Sessions House, still I’m not sure quite what those sounds that accompanied the mention, were adulation! derision! joy! you decide they occur around the end (around 1:17) laughing, groaning, crying, braying Tories? I just can’t tell, if you know for sure, such disrespect might result in a complaint by Bignews Margate to the Standards Board of England except I don’t believe in such nonsense.

Admittedly this webcast is not your best TV but if you’ve nothing else to do give it a go. At a complete tangent totally unconnected mentioning TV I suggest if you ever have chance that to watch “the wire” which is currently showing on BBC 2 a great mix of life, dirty dealings and politics, which is without a doubt the best television ever.

Cabinet Scrutiny Special click here


  1. Tony, I spent 34 minutes watching this and then gave up in despair. Unless anything further was added, it seems to me that an extension of Kent TV contract without debate by KCC Cllrs was based on (Carter's own words; not wanting to 'upset' the staff of Kent TV by giving them warning notices that they might lose their jobs on 31 Aug! Is this the same Council that does this to its own teachers on numerous occasions, its own employees? The 'bull' about 'purdah' when Gilroy effectively consults with Leader and Cabinet member first is of course hiding behind a smokescreen that fools nobody. The simple fact is that the contract has been extended beyond its term on a whim and without full Council due process. Did no-one grasp the fact that an election was going to take place in Spring 2009 and does it really make an iota of difference if it was may or June when you know the date months in advance?

    I do't know how you feel about Gilroy, but did you notice he talks abour 'Paul' when others give The Leader his proper title. Most revealing!

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  3. I'd like to say a hell of a lot more as you might appreciate

    Given relationships that exist in Maidstone its no surprise that things get emotive.

    Kent councils attitude to me has certainly been questionable particularly as regards Kent TV.

    I find the defensive attitude at the expense of taxpayers a tad offensive.

    Its no wonder that they were ridiculed over Ten Alps approach to me for voice my opinions in the press.

    Pity paul carter never gave me a similar outing to explain to his colleagues the offense caused by Kent TV.

    It seems no respect for simple tax payers and yet elected members have to bend over backwards for highly paid officers

  4. Gentlemen,

    I can appreciate how this looks from the outside, and, I know Tony and Kent TV are aware I am not their greatest fan. I too have had silly letters from the Editor in Chief of Kent TV, who then vanishes when challenged to justify his statements.

    I was a substitute at this meeting, which was in reality more technical about protocols than anything else.

    At the original scrutiny meeting, it was announced by the chair, Trudy Dean, that it was accepted that the decision was within the bounds of the Chief Executive's decision making, mainly on the basis of an informalset of notes of an informalmeeting with the chief executive. Thesenotes were tabled at the meeting, and questions for clarification became a debate on the basis of these notes which were clearly (now known) not the complete story.

    The scrutiny process has protocols about inviting relevant officers and politicians to give evidence and be questioned about their actions, to draw lessons for future guidance. The debate that followed was based thus on incomplete evidence. On the basis of what was presented councillors comments were not surprising, but it was a bit like holding a trial without the case for the defence - an easy option for prosecutors, but not necessarily just. That is why so much time was spent on tuesday talking about protocols, which is boring to the watcher, but actually it is what maintains fairness in the system.

    You are quite right to say that Mrs Deans name was probably bandied around too much given her absence, and as the chance to defend one's actions was the cause celebre of the day, that looked hypocritical.

    I think you will find my contributions did not mention Mrs Dean; criticised the leader and chief executive for the manner in which they presented their facts; defended the conclusions drawn by the original committee on the basis of their knowledge; highlighted a real incongruity between offiders and members codes of conduct and public perception issues; and pointed out the silliness of justifying this decision on the basis of saving 10 jobs at a cost of 31,800 pounds each.

    True there was no blood on the carpet: but in truth this rarely happens. The most interesting issue for you Tony is that of the role of the Kent TV Board. My understanding, and Kent TV's claim is that they are editorially independent, and financially dependent. The papers for this meeting, and the lawyers opinion states the role of the board is about strategic editorial control, and not financial - because of course if it was financial then the Chief Executive would have a clear conflict of interest.

    I wonder what the Editor in Chief of Kent TV, whom we know reads your stuff Tony, will make of that?

    When the BIg News headline was used at the end, there was a reaction, but sadly I suspect it was that Mr Chittendon just did notget where we were. Quoting blog headlines from the basis of theoriginal meetings different conclusions on different evidence was not appropriate at that moment in most eyes I would suspect, but your fame did make me smile.

    This is messy, archane, and probably very poorly handled at different stages and times - but I do not think it is any more than that, whatever conspiracy theorists may wish to believe. And I say that having had the chance to look at it with care as a known opponent of Kent TV.

  5. Its apparent from the minutes of Kent TV board meetings that the board have never been told of their objectives as stated in the scrutiny meeting. That is the members of the board that bother to turn up. Many including those not associated with either KCC or Ten Alps never do.
    At the June meeting it was also stated that the Non KCC members would write to Mrs Dean concerning her comments in the press regarding Kent TV. This is not their remit and most of the non KCC members present were from Ten Alps and their associates apart from the man from the Fire Brigade.

    Cllr Carter/ Peter Gilroy also stated at scrutiny that a decision had been taken that Kent TV would not compete with local media when looking for revenues. Why did the board even discuss adding a Jobs section to Kent TV. Surely the board should have been told of this change of policy regarding the financing of Kent TV. Unless of course it was an excuse made up recently for the failure of Kent TV to become self financing as was the original aim when Kent TV's budget was originally voted through.
    Maybe in these difficult times the KCC councilors can reflect on their original decision that has resulted on at least £2 millions being spent on this project for what appears to be about £1 for very visit to the site.
    Its apparent that some of them have, and unless KCC can justify this spending by showing a reduction in other promotional spendings then Kent TV is a total waste of money and it would be better spent supporting jobs in other sectors that would be of benifit to us Kent tax payers. As cllr Wells implied some Thanet residents would welcome £31,000 a year jobs and I am sure one of them would like to receive the pay of the Kent TV editor in chief.

  6. Its seemed to me, that much of what Mr Gilroy had to say was contrived to justify the meeting, emphasis on the chronology etc, I thought in earlier meetings that Kent TV board did actually discuss the possibility of revenue through sponsorship etc, so I'm not to sure where that no financial stuff is coming from.

    The fact remains KCC had considerably more than two years to anticipate or plan for the end of Ten Alps contract, it seems the failed.

    Peter Gilroy wrote to me recently in that in neutral tone you expect of civil servants "Whilst you may not support Kent TV, it is contributing to savings on publications of £1 million in the current year"

    Well I've now requested supporting figures, which have been supplied, extracted from 2009/10 budget conveniently they add up to exactly the 1 mill, however there is as you would expect no detail at to how these are arrived and or substantiated.

    I've asked for further detail and will let you know.

    I'll let you know, but I fear the detail will be subjective and compared with the running costs of my blog and Kent TV will remain a very poor use of Kents media budget

  7. So why was it again that chris wells lost his position in the cabinet? Anyone out there know the real reason?

  8. I see from the KCC forward Plan that the contract for Kent TV is up for renewal in late 2009 or early 2010.

    If you want to take part in the consultation, well you can’t! The consultation process is ‘internal only’ If you want to read the documents they’re available on December 23rd and the decision is due Between 1 Dec 2009 and 1 Jan 2010. Nothing like transparency!