Friday, August 12, 2011

Thanet Council first priority to protect officers cars and the public last?

council looks after no 1The Isle of Thanet Gazette's front page story, this Friday concerns Margate's Mill Lane car park (an occasional topic here on Bignews Margate),  as you might expect with Thanet council, money is no object when it comes to looking after the interests of officers.

Although ostensibly Mill Lane Car Park is a public car park for use by shoppers, residents and visitors, it is effectively commandeered by Thanet Council staff as their comfort and convenience outweighs the public interest.

So it comes as no surprise that the car park itself, which during the week is almost exclusively occupied by TDC staff, has more cameras (34) protecting it, than the rest of Margate.

As a result over the years Mill Lane car park has played a significant  part in the decline of Margate as a shopping centre, since five days a week its near impossible to park in that part of town without having to pay for the councils predatory on street parking and or

To make sure residents don't inconvenience staff by using what must be one of the safest parking facilities in the country, our sneaky local council close the car park over night so staff can park easily in the morning.

Its good that the Gazette is around to remind us (Subject to take over) anyway I made the  point I made back in December last year with this comment while bemoaning that they TDC couldn't find  money for local museums " Thanet's CCTV cameras £1.4 million in three years, which allow council staff to snoop and spy on you and I as well as check, that their car is still safely parked for free in Mill Lane car park.

I'm not getting at the front line staff but I ask why we be subsidising staff car parking particularly at the fat cat end of the scale. Still that's a question that might be aimed at Conservative group leader Cllr Bob Bayford, and his equally ineffectual cabinet colleagues.

Whatever excuses, spin, misinformation, Thanet council use to explain this, does not excuse this disgraceful policy of putting staff before the public.


  1. I wonder which Councillor is in charge of car parks. I bet he's something to do with Westgate

  2. In addition to the car park, yet again Margate (23 cameras in the town centre) gets preferential treatment over Ramsgate (14 cameras in it's town centre, despite the fact that it's arguably larger than Margate's)...

  3. According to the quote from the council spokesperson money raised from the car parks can only be spent on car parks. Most other councils spent income raise from car parks and from on-street parking on transport infrastructure in general. So is the TDC spokesperson trying to spin their way out of what appears to be a waste of tax payers money that would not stand up to a value for money audit?

  4. Mill Lane is right in the middle of a problem area and a magnet for anti social behaviour in the town, which goes a long way to explaining why it has so many cameras.

    I never have any problems parking there when I visit Margate but I'm glad of the cameras

  5. A slight flaw in your argument Tony is if TDC extended to the public the amount of surveillance they impose on their staff ? Be careful of what you wish for when arguing for TDC to be your Big Brother.

    In emergency planning it can be useful to have known 24 hour secured zones ... maybe TDC have done something right ?

    Although the Guiness Book of Records may take some convincing of such an unlikely claim.

  6. For once, Retired, you have touched on a good point. Both the Tories and the Lib Dems condemned Labour for the growth in CCTV coverage. Both said they would want far less of it. I didn't hear one of them repeat this last week in their commentary on the riots, and here we have CCTV jealousy!

    Tony's point should be that the CCTV should be discontinued, not shared, if he is following Lib Dem rhetoric, with more "bobbies on the beat". Oh no, the Coalition are cutting them, aren't they...

  7. Retired has clearly read things that are not part of this posting.

    Its clear that last weeks rioters were in no way, inhibited by the presence of cameras.

    The point I was making, was that once again Thanet council looks after its own, and Conservative councillors look to be in my view, just ineffectual poodles, happy to look important but in reality on a leash firmly held by "officers".

    CCTV has a part to play in crime prevention but come off it, 34 cameras to protect one car park is bonkers!

  8. since when has CCTV been there to protect the public more like spy on them isnt it funny they are never working when you want to report a crime...especially if it involves the police or other public servants

  9. Dear Tony,

    I write to directly rebut the headline story on CCTV from last Friday’s Gazette.

    The article is inaccurate, missing key points without which readers cannot make proper judgement about the system and how it’s working. This is why we met with the Gazette journalist before publication and explained all of the following facts. Why he chose not to use those facts is beyond me, especially as journalists are supposed to tell the whole story.

    The cameras in Mill Lane and Leopold Street car parks are small, fixed and little more advanced than domestic hand held camcorders. The number of cameras relates solely to the number of floors in each car park and how many are needed to provide adequate coverage.

    The town centre cameras are more sophisticated, individually poled, and capable of 360 degree vision, requiring much more work and protection. They provide the bulk of Thanet coverage and are constantly monitored by operators, as they are sited to cover crime hotspots. These sites are reviewed every year to ensure we have the coverage we need to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

    The operators vigilant monitoring of the hot spot cameras has led to 345 incidents ending in arrest during the last 12 months alone.

    An effective CCTV system for Thanet gives residents peace of mind and reassurance that there are people looking out for them and their property. Last Friday’s article sought only to create unnecessary fear of crime.

    The journalist approached an opposition member; an independent member, and a community group representative for comment; but did not appraoch me, even though we had been in touch during the week about other matters. The journalist also knew that the cameras in Mill Lane were installed in 1999, during the last labour administration, which makes his approach to Cllr Green for, and use of his barb against officers, even more strange. Surely any half decent journalist should have been pressing for explanation fron the group who approved the decision, if he was so concerned.

    It is an irresponsible act for a local newspaper to whip up concern from inaccurate reporting; particularly when the facts are all available.


    Chris Wells

  10. So the journalist didn't actually lie, no matter how you spin it Chris...

  11. I did not say he did, no matter how you spin it Peter. What he did do was present selected facts in a dishonest manner, when he had all the facts, and had the chance to do the job properly. Just setting the record straight.

  12. The journalist seems to be a bit like a politician. Perhaps Wells in the Looking Glass?

  13. Surely as per NHS staff TDC staff have to pay for a parking permit, or they get taxed on the benifit.

  14. Margate has a few more cameras than you think. Where ever you go, if you are being naughty, you will be monitored by a large network in this area, whether you are aware of it or not. Bottom line to the criminals out there, you WILL be caught!

  15. Er, is it just me or are you missing the point here a bit? You've already made it known that you take the Gazette's word as law, and that's your mistake to make, but am I the only person spotting a blatant hidden agenda here? The Gazette offices are in.....ooh, let me think. Mill Lane. Which means that it's reasonable to assume that whoever wrote this article uses the self same car park every day. As do his/her cronies and the esteemed editor. Now, why would you, for want of a better phrase, crap on your own doorstep? Tony, you seem to be up for becoming a citizen journalist, why don't you investigate? Could it be that this reporter has overstayed his/her welcome once too often and been given one too many tickets? Or is it a missive from on high? Maybe KRN tried to wangle free parking for their newshounds and got turned down. There's always a bigger picture. Personally, I think they've done the council a favour, I might actually use that car park now the Gazette has reassured me it's not the dank, dingy crime haven I always thought it was.