Yeah I suppose it is, its just watching the local news BBC Southeast a few nights ago, Tuesday I think, when eventually the presenters had dug themselves out of the unseasonal snow drifts, to report on actual news, I got the impression I might have just woken up in some totalitarian state.
Admittedly Kent is far from some Stalinist regime or even a Banana republic, however the report that I found so startling revealed how a senior officer at Kent Council has been asked to take two months leave of absence and county councillors have been informed by email that she will not be at work until further notice.
The officer in question Lynda McMullan, is the counties Finance Director, and if you click here, KCC have provided a web page which she herself explains her role.
Why? well the political editor of BBC southeast Louise Stewart mentioned that Lynda McMullan had agreed to take time off after concerns were raised about her relationship with the media and "sources" suggested that her emails had been investigated although no disciplinary action had been taken. Surely KCC officers can talk to the media?
Its difficult to see quite what's going on here, and lord knows just how sensitive the KCC establishment are about the media, KCC spends in excess of £5 million pounds to project its image, media manipulation has involved lavish presentations, its own magazine in which one edition had both Leader and Chief Executive go on about how marvellous the council was and of course that sacred cow Kent TV which despite all sorts of efforts failed.
Now you might think I have a downer on all bureaucrats, not so KCC clearly has some very competent staff, I don't think I've ever spoken to Lynda McMullen, however I have corresponded concerning the claims by Peter Gilroy of savings made by Kent TV, Lynda McMullen dealt with my request in an efficient and business like manner this week a senior Kent Councillor who would know informs me that Lynda McMullan does a first class job.
This issue was first raised by Paul Francis, and it seems a complete mystery as to why.
Hopefully this is an issue that will be resolved shortly, I hope this hasn't arisen as a result of hostility toward our open and free media, I reminded of how upset Conservative Leader Paul Carter was when the Kent Messenger wrote a story concerning Peter Gilroy “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.
Incidentally its just been revealed that a one year extension to the former Chief Exec contract cost in excess of £400,000 a lifetimes earning for many of us.
Leave for Kent's Finance Director at a time of great financial restraint ought at least warrant a statement from Paul Carter, its a pity the national press don't start taking an interest in Kent, something is clearly wrong here