Believe it or not this post has been kicking around on my laptop, drifting around my brain and even resting in some safe depository in cyberspace for a week or so, each time I attempt to finish, I add and chop bits and pieces, anyhow this it the finished item, I see its Local Democracy week mentioned in Gazette, cheers for that snippet and a bit of poking around reveals this is an initiative from the Council of Europe in Strasburg and I'm thinking what democracy the more I observe the more I see a sham.
What sounds like good news for openness and democracy was the recent decision by Thanet Council to extend their webcast experiment to broadcast meetings, which is of course wonderful but a significant event has gone pretty much unreported by The Gazette, Thanet Extra, and Yourwotsit whose editors ought to report on major policy items within the council.
Recently you'll recall or not (if you only read the local papers) how Thanet Council decided to exclude members of the public from a discussion which concerned the decision to transfer power to Richard Samuel the councils unelected chief executive, a spurious argument was put up that the discussion involved details of job losses likely to result from the formation East Kent Joint services ( 3 councils, combining pay, housing, ITC departments), clearly if you work for any of the councils involved Thanet, Canterbury or Dover you'd be well aware of likely outcome.
Handing over power to the chief executives, of three local councils (assuming councillors in Canterbury and Dover are as weak) is an astonishing betrayal of democracy and has been without public debate not least because the press can't be bothered and this is only my opinion because Conservative leader Bob Bayford is perhaps too embarrassed to explain to the public and Clive Hart, Labour too inept to seize on an issue of democratic accountability, preferring to argue against affordable housing still that's
New Local Ed's Labour (the same as the others but deeper in denial).
I'm not sure what there is to observe now that the democratic leader of the council, will find Richard Samuel referring to him if he "is not satisfied" with occurrences with East Kent Joint services, rather than the other way round, a case of the tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.
Admittedly there is more to the local council meetings, than decision making, who can resist the wit and wisdom of councillors like Simon Moores, who dropping into, as I see it, familiar school boy mode, thought to include me ("my old friend"?) by making a negative joke at my expense, suggesting as he proposed the rather serious motion to exclude the public, that I "was trying or making himself invisible in the background".
For someone who argued that Thanet council ought to have a blogging policy/charter for councillors, he ought to consider a TDC charter for councillors to act in a more mature manner, I suppose I could report him to the standards committee, if its not already been abolished, but its my contention if a councillor wants to behave like an idiot and be discourteous, it's a personal choice to be rectified at the ballot box.
Maybe Cllr Bayford could have a word, its no surprise to me that Simon Moores didn't think it necessary to apologise, or his superficial inclusion of me as a friend, being polite and friendly does not constitute friendship.
Finally its some measure how tenuous democracy is in these parts, as far as I can tell the shift from local democracy to East Kent Joint Services controlled by unelected council officers has yet to be reported by either BBC radio Kent, Kent on Sunday, Kent Messenger, and Northcliffe Media Thanet Times/Gazette shame on editors.
Still without a doubt someone will no doubt tell me I've got it wrong, I hope I have, but as there has been no public debate, what would I know.