I find it rather shocking that Conservative Leader of Kent Paul Carter, is so upset about a report referred, to on this blog Wednesday, which focused on an astonishing pay deal, done with Peter Gilroy Kent Chief executive.
Indeed so upset is he, that he has sent an open letter, to the Kent Messenger which I understand is reproduced on KCC’s website (taxpayer funded) as well as that of the KM group. His open letter starts thus “I feel very strongly and I am extremely upset by the way the Kent Messenger has orchestrated their story regarding KCC Chief Executive Peter Gilroy’s contract renewal that was agreed in November 2006.
As one, who is only too aware of Kent Councils attitude to freedom of speech, finding it necessary to insist KCC’s legal department confirm my rights to freely express myself having been pressured after writing about a Kent council project.
Its quite clear to me that Paul Francis (multi award winning journalist) and the KM Group have done absolutely nothing wrong in a free society, the public have a right to open government and being made aware how their hard earned cash(tax) is spent, which if Paul Carter’s Kent Council made the right decision in deciding to offer Peter Gilroy chief executive a whopping retirement bonus of £200,000 and feel it justified, where the beef, Cllr Carter?
KM group have published Paul Carters letter on their website with a reply which mentions that the paper had contacted KCC’s press office several times “The KM Group approached the county council well in advance of the publication of our story. We did this through the council's press office as we judged this to be the appropriate channel.
“The council press office was contacted on several occasions before publication, reminding it of our deadlines.
Just to give some context I, as a responsible blogger also contacted KCC’s media department, this week query one was on Monday asking how KCC spent £300,000 on the new pointless Health Watch project to handle just 500 enquiries, one phone call two emails (in case KCC media bods either had a memory problem and or no pen to take notes) little surprise that they never got back also Tuesday one of the media wallahs confidently confirmed he would ring within the hour, with the name of someone I could contact re KCC extra staff holiday (he didn’t either).
I suggest two things if Paul Carter cannot bare to have open government and prefers a cosy world of secrecy then he should just put up with honest reporting, if as it seems he finds it “too hot in the Kitchen” then find the door, secondly maybe he could give KCC’s press department a kick up the backside (metaphorically) then we would not have these silly misunderstandings would we Cllr Carter.
I just hope that this matter is reported more widely in Kent’s Media although I have strong doubts particularly BBC Radio Kent, who seem to me to have a cosy, unquestioning relationship with KCC’s establishment or have no interest in reporting the local democratic process (which I wrote on in this long winded blog last year but still has relevance).