A week or so back, Kent councils cabinet scrutiny committee met and one of the items as I recall, was whether the renewal of the Kent TV contract was handled properly.
An extraordinary meeting has been called which will take place at 1pm Wednesday 5th August click here for a link to the live webcast or hopefully later recording of said event.
Its suggested that the Chief Executive Peter Gilroy, Paul Carter Tory boss and others didn’t like the outcome of the previous meeting, hence I assume the emergency meeting.
Now here’s the situation again as I understand it, Kent TV was set up to run for two years, the contract was awarded to Ten Alps, the council has had a long time to consider whether to continue the project.
However for some reason between council officers Peter Gilroy Chief Exec & Tanya Oliver (director of strategic development and public access), Paul Carter Tory Leader and Mr M Banks KCC’s Barrister the need to make a long term decision on Kent TV appears to have been put off.
The situation means that Ten Alps have apparently had their contract to supply Kent TV renewed for another seven months without the tiresome worries of competition.
As I can see, no suggestion was made at the previous scrutiny meeting, that council officers had acted in any improper way or for that matter Paul Carter, although naturally questions of public perception were raised as well as lack of member involvement.
My view is this Paul Carter, who is after all the elected leader of the council, appears to me, to be lead by the officers, rather than the more usual way of doing things in a democracy. Why else are we wasting money with further meetings
The following are views expressed by members as per the summary of the scrutiny meeting.
• Mr Manning raised concerns about the sensitivity of the issue and the public perception of Mr Gilroy being both the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Kent TV.
• Mr Christie raised concerns whether, perception wise, it was a reasonable decision for the Chief Executive to take, his views were that public perception might be that somehow there was a conflicting interest.
• Mr Hotson suggested that for the future, the Chief Executive should not be in a position to take such decisions and it should be another officer or a Member level decision because there could be the perception of a conflict of interest.
• Mr Hotson stated that it was unforgiveable that there was a period of four of five months when there was no Member involvement of knowledge, and that should not happen in the future.
• Mr Kite stated that this situation failed the public perception test
• Mr Christie remarked that the decision to extend the contract was taken during April, but the contract was only signed on 15 July, the same day as the informal meeting.
• The Chairman explained that neither she nor the spokespersons had exercised an official call in of this issue firstly because they were satisfied that the Chief Executive had the authority to exercise this decision. The issue was whether it was an appropriate decision for him to take and that was a matter of judgement.
• Mr Parry raised concerns about the period of time in which there was no Member involvement. In future Members should be notified at the earliest opportunity of what was going on.
• Mr R King explained that it was a matter of Member involvement and which decisions should be made by the Cabinet.
As regulars will know I have had a fair amount of grief over Kent TV the council run TV station, a year back or so I feel that an attempt was made, to restrict what I could or could not say about Kent TV. I don’t recall Carter or Gilroy demanding meetings to discuss that matter, wonder why?
After some months a grudging acceptance was made by one legal officer that I did have the right to comment freely, also more importantly was the acceptance the KCC was ultimately responsible for the output Kent TV.