Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thought for the day - China Balancing business, morality and censorship.

It seems that local politicians of either Conservative or Labour persuasion are happy to take a pragmatic or even fence sitting stance concerning the chance of having Chinese investment in these parts.

Now I too take the view that money, is money, so if its on offer take it but I along with most British citizens was brutally reminded that our values, are not the same as our global trading partners, including of course China and in particular their history of human rights violations, emphasised recently by the execution of Akmal Shaikh, for drugs smuggling, shown no mercy despite his mental illness, refusing to accept evidence of his bipolar disorder.

So what has any of this to do with us, well in my case nothing accept being aware that our own local government Thanet District Council, is only to happy to curb its own elected members with nonsense blogging protocols and last summer arranged a secretive meeting with Chinese “dignitaries”.

Now I hope that Thanet Council will draw up a “protocol” on how to receive or not, members of China’s officialdom particularly since many residents are uncomfortable with China’s human rights record not that it seems to bother some in these parts.


  1. I thought china gateway was all about free holidays for our esteemed chief exec and his gang of four.One day soon EKO may publish some accounts and they will all end up in jail.

  2. Tony you disappoint in twisting the facts in such a way.

    The blogging protocol, should you care to read it, is a document that simply reminds councillors of their obligations under both the code of public standards and the law. As such it is a useful and sensible guide, not only for politicians but also for bloggers in general.

    The 11:48 comment, is I assume from the unpleasant "creature of the night" and possibly a libellous allegation in the absence of any proof to the contrary.

    Why you appear to believe that a council can pick and choose which nations it does business with, when those same nations are approved trading partners by central government, I simply don't know. Leave foreign policy to the Foreign Office and the diplomats. Thanet is a small local council concerned with encouraging local employment opportunities where and if they appear.

  3. It wouldn't be so bad if there were any proof that China Gateway would create any direct jobs at even a fraction of those claimed by CGI in their original statement. Talk of 1000 direct jobs and 2000 to 3000 indirect jobs is and always was nonsense as the jobs to be created directly would be tiny. As a computer expert you would know, Dr. M., that a modern warehouse needs a mere handful of employees. At best the only manufacturing would be some 'final stage' work i.e. checking the imported goods don't fall apart too soon. hardly '1000 direct jobs' there.

    The indirect jobs would be mostly temporary and wouldn't benefit this area at all:- HGV drivers, steel-erectors, window-cleaners, well, maybe them but otherwise most would be outside short-term posts at best. Even the company in an interview said there would be opportunities for an enterprising local to set up a business.....supplying sandwiches to the workers. Ok, that might create a job or two but can you imagine some local going to the bank for a loan to set up a sandwich-supplying company?

    Thanet Earth was hailed as creating 500 jobs part-time/full-time. As Tony knows from experience those employed are not local so we have acres concreted over for outsiders to come and work in glass-houses.

    I know you can't restrict jobs to locals but why this constant mantra of 'they're going to create jobs therefore we must give them planning permission'.

    On the EKO LLP thread can you as a Cabinet member, Dr. M. tell us the taxpayer when we can see the accounts of this very secretive, difficult to find information about, company whose aim is to make money for the directors and perhaps eventually the taxpayer?

    Why is KCC in the guise of EKO LLP so reluctant to sell the land at Manston Business Park to CGI or could it be another plan to build by EKO which after all is a combined TDC/KCC set-up?

  4. I'm afraid it's not for me to offer comment on EKO LLP on any other commercially sensitive matter of local interest. I'm sure you will understand this.

    As for jobs, you will see from an earlier post in December on my Thanet Life weblog that I have my own views on job creation in the modern economy. However, for Thanet, given it's levels of unemployment and deprivation, I'm in favour of any jobs or activity that can bring a commercial benefit to the local economy through disposable income or taxation.

  5. So, taking Dr. M's last comment, why is his party so keen to change the Local Plan for the New Haine Road site to housing when the original scheme was for industrial use? Ok, at the moment perhaps not too many would-be firms are beating a path to the developer's door i.e. EKO LLP but perhaps someone could explain why firms that did approach a little while ago were sent away with 'not the kind of business we want here'?

    More housing will create short-term jobs but when the houses are built the owners will need work and, if the site can no longer be used for industrial/job creation use then more land will need to be taken for the creation of employment.

    So, we'd have the houses but no work and we will hardly have moved the area forward unless the owners use the high-speed train to get them to London. None of that would seem to me to solve out long-term deprivation that can be dated back to the time when London boroughs were happy to shift their unemployed population to the seaside.

  6. Tony, the "nonsense blogging protocol" is not a nonsense but I think that what you mean is that it was completely unnecessary for TDC to waste time and resources on producing it. It was a sledgehammer to crack a nut and probably aimed at one specific blogger. Surely TDC councillors as a whole know their responsibilities under libel law and the councillor's code of practice? Its a bit of an insult to them to suggest otherwise.

  7. I regret to say that two TDC councillors did appear blithely unaware of their obligations under the code of conduct or simply preferred to ignore them under their own unique interpretation of free speech.

    In regard to housing, this council has to meet Government targets over the next six years so perhaps you might suggest where these new homes will go?

    The 70 million people now predicted to be living in this country by the end of this new decade are going to be principally living in the south of the country and not the north of Scotland!

  8. So, 'two TDC councillors ignored their obligations' but you fail to say who/why/the circumstances/the outcome so your point is wasted.

    Which party did they belong to? It seems to me that your own colleagues go running to complain every time there's a vaguely critical comment from anyone other than a Conservative councillor. Whaever happened to the cut and thrust of politcs? if your colleagues can't cope with the odd, yes, it's the odd critical comment perhaps they should find something else to do with their time? How many of these complaints have been upheld by Standards? I seem to recall it's your Leader and his Deputy who are the main ones to have been censured.

    Re. the housing. You miss the point. The Local Plan isn't that old that the government's targets have suddenly and dramatically increased. As you well know, Dr. Moores, there have been enough units built to easily satisfy the government's targets and if you feel more need to be built, why not allow more bulding on brownfield sites? After all there are enough in Thanet including the old Holy Cross School site where 170 will be built. There's land off Pyson's Road available.

    Actually, as one who has lived in Scotland for many years there's much to commend it and the cost of living is way below that in this area.

    How about not following 'Our Leader' for once and thinking 'outside the box'? Houses on existing brownfield sites. Industry on designated sites. Wow, what a concept.

  9. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy!

    You see things broadly out of focus and in a particularly uninformed manner 15:00. There is a much bigger and more detailed picture of local government and policy then you are aware of and you will have to simply take it on trust that elected representatives, have much better access to the facts which are the foundations of local decisions.

  10. With 56 councillors in Thanet suspicion falls on all 56 of them including cllr Moores himself of not knowing their obligations to the voters of Thanet. Were these 2 incidences so serious that time and money was wasted on the protocol but not serious enough to put before standards committee? Most of Thanet's blogging councillors are guilty of one offence on their blogs: opening their mouths and putting their feet in them!

  11. Seriously fed-up local voterWednesday, 6 January 2010 at 16:04:00 GMT

    Dr. Moores, typically arrogant and patronising as he doesn't know who is posting here so how can he know how much anyone knows. How can he tell without x-ray vision who has posted about EKO or anything else that Tony's thread has produced by way of response.

    Look out, Doctor, retribution by way of the ballot box is coming.

    His attitude explains why he and his fellow Conservatives ought to look to their laurels with a local election looming in 2011. I can see Lib. Dems. doing well here when people realise what has been done in their name.

    Anyway, for someone who is such a busy person how can he find so much time to spend reading these blogs?

  12. Hey, Doc Moores, can we hear the outcome of your commercial pilot's training course you mentioned some time ago on your blog or was it a twin-enginned course I can't remember exactly?

  13. Anon 15.00 you and everbody else in Thanet should not take decisions made by the council on trust as cllr Moores says you should. Trust has to be earned. There lies the problem many in Thanet have with the council. TDC is seen to be secretive and underhand. Of course there are times when commercial sensitive issues are at stake but Thanet council must be open and above board and the paid employess need to understand that is what there are. Currently the council gives the impression that residents are irrelevent.

  14. The only group that can play the 'commercially sensitive' card is the MOD but no-one seems to have told TDC that. How many FOI Act requests get turned down with 'that information is commercially sensitive'?

    As EKO LLP isn't strictly TDC or KCC being set up as limited liability partnership, or similar, they can play the 'commercially sensitive' card as they don't seem covered by the FOI Act. Anyone know otherwise?

  15. If Simon Moores and his new found mates can waste time on pityful protocols on bloggin then surely they ought to consider how to meet and greet or not as the case any chinese officialdom that might just wash up.

    I think the Chinese government couldn't give a toss for human rights and that's how I feel about them.

  16. The protocol is a waste of resources, I would estimate the cost so far at approaching £30,000 if you take into account all the time that has been spent by officers and councillors. The cost will continue to rise whilst TDC ask people how they want their money spent.

    The only people who live in Thanet I know who want to spend money on this protocol are members of TDC Cabinet.

    As to Simon Moores, he has misrepresented on this issue from the start so take everything he says with a very large pinch of salt - and it is expressing facts like that, shared by many, that makes him and his colleagues so keen to try and regulate councillors.

    For the record Thanet's Labour councillors will continue to oppose this protocol and try and get TDC to spend, time, money and effort on providing services, rather than protecting the egoes of people who despite their appallingly low standards of personal conduct believe they should not be criticised.

  17. Some facts and figures from TDC's own Housing Audit for those fellow plebs who resent being told to take things on trust by TDC Cllrs as our limited brains fail to grasp the picture. (Which reminds me that even some of our TDC Cllrs had difficulty last month obtaining any data from officers about housing completions!)

    In the period 2001-2016 Thanet had a target of 6000 new dwellings. The South East Plan (Approved 2009) now gives Thanet a target of 7,500 new dwellings between 2006 - 2026. What is interesting is that between 2001-2006, Thanet had 1,923 new dwelling completions (223 more than needed)
    If we accept that nothing will change between now and 2026, the South East Plan requires 7,500 new dwellings at an average of 375 units per year. The completion figures, so far, look good:
    2006/7 - 651 completions.
    2007/8 - 606 completions.
    2008/9 - 726 completions.
    So in 3 years we have a total of 1,983 completions when the average requirement meant only 1,125. In otherwords we have exceeded the 'new goal posts' already by 858 (76%) and have more than 2 years 'in hand'!

    What we could also enquire from TDC Planning is how many dwellings are already contained in Planning Applications that have been approved but have not been completed/started yet but are still within their consent time for building? One can think of 1000 on Nash Rd; 175 to come on Hereson; 100 at Minster etc. How many still to come at St Augustines or at Sea Bathing and Pleasurama etc? There is another 4-5 year's worth for a start. So what exactly is the pressing requirement to build 600-700 house on Eurokent, Cllr Moores?

    Will not Cameron and The Conservatives not quickly recognize the utter inconsistency of Labour's thoughts about Feeding The Population in 2026 with its directives about covering prime agricultural land in housing. In the meantime instead of taking things carefully and slowly, TDC seems hell bent on being 7 to 8 years ahead of its housing targets rather than just 2 years ahead. Why is that?

  18. Better ask the developers on the planning committee!

    Has no one ever wondered as to why a Labour Chair of Planning should suddenly jump ship when the party introduced CRO checks on it's councillors, and then re emerged as the Tory Chair of Planning!

    In any other council in the country, a turn coat is welcomed at arms length. But not in good old Thanet.

    A former Labour Planning Chair swaps side and gets his position back??

    A former Deputy Labour Mayor, who has resigned under a cloud, jumps ship, again when the party brings in CRO checks, and re-emerges not only as the Tory Mayor, but as Chair of the local party!!!!!

    Only in Thanet. Not even in the grandest works of fiction!

  19. Some inaccuracies in the last posting. The current Chair of Planning lost his seat, got re-elected next time round, then changed his loyalty so had to seek another TDC seat and got elected for St. Peter's. I am assured he knows where that is but locals have some doubts on that one.

    I think you'll find CRB checks were not the issue and he got the Chair of Planning this time round when the incumbent got dumped because he didn't seem to do what his leader wanted. Unless anyone out there knows differently. don't think for him CRB was the issue.

  20. I fail to see how outside companies, using mostly outside builders to create buildings that will employ outside people and will profit outside companies adds value to Thanet. There is every chance that locally no taxation will take place and one could even argue that with overseas workers very little national taxation will be forthcoming.

    It is well established that local firms (not national chains or foreign companies) who employ and source locally are worth at least 3.4 times any other concern to the economy in real terms.

    China Gateway, Thanet Earth and any other outside agency that wants to use the land but for the profit of agencies not based here are actually a detriment to the local economy often draining value rather than adding it.

    If the local councils were honestly seeking to improve the economy of the area (assuming they know what they are doing) then they would be seeking to boost local enterprise which they should be favouring above all else.

  21. Anti-China Gateway camapignerThursday, 7 January 2010 at 18:01:00 GMT

    Matt B. Your argument was one put forward during the China Gateway campaign by those concerned that this much-heralded mammoth job-creation scheme would do little to help locals. The only indirect jobs that would be created would be minimum wage ones and add very little to the local economy in the long-term. Better to support locals who want to start a small business that might grow than a company with shareholders somewhere else where there would be no benefit to our area at all.

    I get really frustrated when at planning committee meetings 'job creation' gets trotted out as a reason why the councillors should give permission despite 'job creation' not being a reason for granting planning consent.

  22. This was the whole reason for the disaster that is Westwood Dump.

    Jobs and wealth for Thanet. Except that they are huge national firms, employing their own out of Thanet contractors, and with head offices and shareholders out of Thanet, the profits also head out of Thanet.

    Therefore all that is gained are a few jobs ( mainly part time! ) and no benefit to the community. Yes there are more jobs with more shops, but as this causes the closure of local shops in the real town centres, then no benefit at all.

    Therefore Thanet money is sent out of the county. WELL DONE TDC!!!

    Brown envelopes all round!!

  23. Those so keen on moving the town centres out to Westwood should conduct a survey and find how many from Thanet work out there. My own observations indicate the answer is very few. I know some were initially employed but most didn't last beyond the first month. Why? No idea of what 'customer service' meant. OK, perhaps employers should have done some initial training on that theme but it is clear they weren't willing to after all, there are plenty willing and able to travel into Thanet to work.

    The whole reason for Westwood Cross was to keep money in the area and create work for locals but that just didn't happen.

    To add to that situation we had Rogers Latchford and Gough conducting a survey ltwo years ago asking shoppers what they wanted on what is now the New Haine Road. The answer (and you can always get the answer you want by framing the questions correctly) was.....

    more leisure and houses not industrial units.

    So, hereby ensuring even more of our town centres get the chop so the developers known as EKO LLP can ensure they get lots of money for themselves using taxpayers money. No-one has ever proved that any financial benefit goes back to us rather than them.

  24. Odd how quiet Dr. Moores has become after posting so vigorously on this site. I was hoping to know the answer to the question posed about his commercial pilot's licence training. Come on, Doc, tell us the outcome or do we draw our own conclusion from your reluctance to respond?

  25. Anon 11.14, you wont hear from cllr Moores because whatever he says blog reader just dont believe him. He knows this, why else would he say resident of Thanet have to trust the council. Most residents and blog readers trust the council and especially the cabinet with a pinch of salt.

  26. There are issues around housing and completions which are not as easy to manage as may be suggested here. The planners from GOSE require councils to plan to meet targets for housing in their areas, but many of the completions are 'windfalls' from private companies developing outside the plan but in line with planning policies.

    Logically you would think we could account for these against plan targets, but this is increasingly hard to do as the target culture is settled in and demands the right houses built in the planned places.

    In other words, even though completions may be ahead of target, the issue is the planned area targets without windfall against the final completions of targetted build.

    I have probably expressed that less clearly than I should but hope you get the drift!