Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thanet Council Extraordinary Cabinet Meeting 29/5/13

With great power comes great responsibility" a line I recall from the Spider-Man film circa 2002, whether Thanet council wields great power or any sense of responsibility is something we might find out tonight.

A couple of contentions items are on the agenda tonight, one the never ending saga of the royal sands development, of which Michael child is expert and best placed to discuss

Next a more recent foul up, (please note other four letter words are available) the Transeuropa debacle, so far from my cursory view of the evidence we've had a couple of its not me Guv type communications from Tory and Labour, with no likelihood of any one putting their hands up.

I write this as I travel home from another hard day at the office (building railways) wondering if it's worth traipsing over to the council offices, for what it's worth I feel it's most likely to be a bit of a disappointment.

Will council officers be suspended/resign pending an enquiry, will Clive Hart admit that his lot are incapable monitoring the council finances, or Bob Bayford admit to reckless deals?

Please excuse the usual grammar spelling title cockups I'm posting this on the trip home.

UPDATE After the meeting

Neither Clive Hart or Bob Bayford or indeed the TDC Chief Exec or any officers resigned

Also this is my understanding hampered by an abysmal sound system  £3,300,000. owed by Transeuropa is apparently just an illusion, to make it simple, they just failed to pay for services at Ramsgate Harbour Simples!

Just imagine you rented an asset like a house or this case a harbour and your customer failed to pay accumulating a debt of three million with no security, of course you'd just laugh it off.

Clive Hart and in this instance  his alliance partner Bob Bayford, failed i'd say to convince most of the public of their joint defence.

The only members of the council with any comprehension of basic business principals  seemed to be those independent members. Big Thank you to Tom King for articulation of the problem and Ian Driver for conveying the incredulity of the general public.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Transeuropa torpedo Thanet council finances

Now there's a surprise the recent demise of Transeuropa ferries is going to cost Thanet council 3.3 million pounds.

It seems that the entrepreneurial brains of Thanet council thought it a great idea to prop up the ailing ferry company back 2011.

The grisly details of this debacle are attached, to be honest I don't have the stomach, as always the victims of local authority, dabbling in the entrepreneurial world, will be those who can least afford it as housing benefit funds have been ear marked for plundering.

As always you can be sure that staff pensions are safe, free priority parking at Mill lane and no doubt from time to time the upper echelons jollies to meetings and seminars.

Does it matter, well only if you pay tax, still the cost spread over the population of Thanet works out at around twenty five quid each.  I wonder if a full detailed report will be issued to us the paying public naming and shaming those responsible. I doubt it Clive Hart was recently featured in the local paper bemoaning, people daring to ask, as their right, for honest info from the council.

TDC P R announcement

Transeuropa outstanding debt

Cabinet members at Thanet District Council are to consider how to tackle an outstanding debt of around £3.3 million from Transeuropa, the ferry company who recently ceased trading out of Ramsgate Port.

At their meeting on Wednesday 29 May, members will be reviewing the council’s debt position with the now insolvent company, and will consider whether to approve the use of funding identified by the council’s finance department to deal with the debt.

The council provided temporary financial support to Transeuropa following discussions in March 2011 which made it clear that this support was needed to ensure the on-going future of the business. This temporary support was subsequently extended until an investment partner could be found. Although an investment partnership was entered into in November 2012, the promised funding was not released and ultimately led to Transeuropa ceasing operations.

Although the council will take whatever action it can to chase the debt, and has already lodged this debt with the company administrators, good accounting practice means that the council needs to provide for the debt in full within its 2012/13 statement of accounts.

 It is proposed to use the following sources within 2012/13 to fund this debt:

  • A sum of £1m has been identified in respect of prior year adjustments to housing benefit subsidy. This is a highly volatile budget due to the impact on the subsidy of increases in caseloads and errors in benefit calculations and so normally any underspend would be put into the Customer Services Reserve to mitigate any future overspends. However, the current balance in this reserve is considered appropriate for this purpose and therefore this budget underspend can be utilised to offset the Transeuropa debt position;
  • Unallocated unringfenced grants of £92k have been identified;
  • A balance of £43k remains on the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant reserve which is unallocated;
  • A sum of £1m will be drawn down from the New Homes Bonus;
  • Savings in the cremator project of £196k will be utilised;
  • Carry forward budgets of £257k from prior years have not been utilised and will therefore be taken to offset this debt;
  • A sum of £200k will be taken from the Priority Improvement Reserve which will still leave a balance of £405k to support invest to save and one-off initiatives;
  • A sum of £196k will be taken from the VAT Reserve;
  • The bad debt provision has been reviewed and a sum of £200k can be taken to contribute towards this debt.
The above funding sources give a total of £3,186k. It is anticipated that the balance of the outstanding debt could be covered by the councils underspend for 2012/13.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Whats wrong with swivel eyed loons?

Frankly I prefer them to the establishment freeloaders, who've complacently accepted the erosion of British sovereignty, by the EU. The reference to swivel eyed loons of course is purposely offensive and calculated to stigmatise, undermining reasonable argument.

I can recall a time when I like most in Britain was sold on a common market, which was as far as I can recall was the term used to describe the early EU, which back in the day seemed an almost benign harmless organisation, with minimal corruption, the only glaring outrage at that time was the lunatic arrangement the French insisted on, that the European Parliament meet 12 times a year in Strasbourg. Anyhow at the time I suppose Enoch Powell, actually was a swivel eyed loon.

In the time since we joined, it is hard to say what benefit, has derived from membership, I know that as a British taxpayer it has been my privilege to subsidise much of Europe and for what. Yes there are benefits to membership but these are often restricted to the mainland, travel across boarders without a passport, the European working time directive limiting hours worked, the Euro.

I'm clearly no expert on the benefits of Europe, the arguments were entirely plausible as a kid, now as I stumble toward sixty, it doesn't look so good, I live in a country that has no interest in it's own people, and such has been the economic benefit of membership, that British governments are going to allow me the privilege of working probably into my late sixties, alright if you sit on your a*rse in parliament or in a cushy public sector job, not sure about those of us manual workers.

Anyhoo I've as open a mind as any, perhaps since we've heard the argument of UKIP and others on whats wrong with Europe, maybe those with their snouts in the Euro trough, could give us a referendum, allowing us plebes to confirm our allegiance to our glorious leader Angela Merkel.

The British Government are only too willing to put our service men an women at risk, for democracy in Afghanistan, a country lawless, still in the stone age, in which half the population are automatically abused  because they happen to be women.

Unless we have a referendum, frustration will just grow, and if all those apologists for Brussels based corruption, have a convincing argument, then a referendum is the process to answer critics.

Finally all this may be academic since I recall Charles Kennedy pointed out on Question time this week, the United Kingdom may well be finished, if Scots decide to go it alone, apparently intending to walk away from their share of the national debt and steal British north sea oil. How come the Scots can decide their future and yet the UK cannot?

PS How about a campaign for democracy in the United Kingdom? No of course not that would only disturb all those inbred public school types that run our lives.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cheers Mary!

If you had the dubious pleasure of  watching Mary Portas last night on her channel four infotainment show, hoping for an objective view of the state of Margate town centre, and offering a remedy , then you would have been disappointed. Mary Portas wanted to help Margate, blimey thank God she and her  colleagues at Optomen TV and Channel four didn't want to give us a good kicking!

Instead of an adult analysis we got, I thought, the shocking story of how virtually a whole town had been mean to the tough business consultant and her not insubstantial global media company.

Just what were Optomen Television and Mary Portas intentions with last nights awful programme,  I actually thought having watched last weeks Open Episode "Mary Queen of the High Street", that the marketing guru, had some commonsense and positive purpose, still  within about five minutes of the programme starting, Otomen Television thought that one Margate pedestrians comment was so insightful that it was necessary to broadcast it twice inside the first five minutes, and what was this pearl of wisdom?       "Margate is Shit"      just to add a more positive note, before ten minutes is completed Mary informs us that "there's all the drug dealing at the top of the multistory car park" before she embarks on a stroll down the top of the High Street.

At which point, I thought Crikey if the films going to be this negative, perhaps the film makers ought to divert to the car park,  qualify the remark, and blimey, if this was the mood of the production crew, maybe they ought to see what was on offer. As far as I'm aware much of Mill Lane car park is occupied by council officers, an although strange things occur in the council, I'm sure officers, aren't snorting cocaine on the roof top, are they?

I was struck with how Mary, appeared unconcerned with much else, than her own importance, maybe it's me but there seemed to be a lot of I this and I that in the commentary, and not a small bit of exaggerated drama and slick cutting reinforcing Mary as wonder women marketing guru and Margate er  Shi......... 

Finally it seemed strange not to have included those Margate team members, who had worked so hard for Margate, not to have been featured but as I understand it they were not willing to be shoe horned into confidentiality agreements.

PS Click here for a background to Optomen TV's earlier Margate programme, and yes I know that I'm all I this and I that but I'm not a team player and I don't think Mary Portas is.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No change then

Little has changed as a result of recent elections here in Thanet, it seems and nothing confirms this more than the views of Cllr Clive Hart our esteemed leader of Thanet council.

As you might expect our great leader is full of er SORRY, enthusiasm, with the elections  over,  he kicks off his latest sermon in this week's Gazette saying how it's great to be back with the paper, full of the usual waffle, "working"  "behind the scenes",  "partnership with relevant agencies", "tackle antisocial behavior" are the tried and trusted cliches.

Still he finishes his piece with classic Clive Hart "It's so good to be back. I love elections but I'm glad that any small distractions (like losing badly) that may have caused are now well and truly over". Crikey !

Having observed the count , the "distraction" also known as democracy (the country elections), I must have slipped into a parallel universe, as it appeared to me that both conservative and Labour were clearly shocked by UKIP's vote and the idea that considerable numbers of the British public now ignore party loyalties to make clear, concerns over a bloated undemocratic and corrupt Europe Union.

Labour appeared particularly miffed at the result, although the unusual decision to promote Cllr Will Scobie as Margate mayor despite, I guess with little life or business experience outside the classroom or lecture hall has paid off, with a  narrow victory.

Anyhoo, I don't doubt that for the political establishment, nothing has changed, Labour will continue as always and Cllr Scobie will add a fresh paragraph to his Cv, for consideration by various constituency selection  committees for 2015.

Elsewhere in the Gazette I see Cllr Kim Gibson, is the new mayor for Ramsgate, at a time it's blighted, having just lost its channel ferry service, such a blow for the town and district. Whether this will trouble the new mayor is a moot point, certainly Labour has a poor record of supporting transport infrastructure, I can't recall her predecessor Cllr David Green supporting the nearby airport or rail projects and with Clive Hart recently refusing to talk up the airport on BBC local radio, giving for me a rather weak and improbable excuse that it was forbidden by election law (Clive Hart was not even a candidate) there's not much hope us.

Labour nationally failed to make any breakthrough  for this reason, having engineered a monumental economic disaster which we're still living through and showing utter contempt for working people and the national interest, it has in concert with BBC media pals, gone big on negative campaigning particularly attacking necessary reform to the benefits, and as you might expect having nothing intelligent to offer.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Thanet Elects 7 UKIP and a Scobie - Celebrate democracy the people have spoken

Over the next few days, politicians of mainstream political parties, will be delving deep and working hard on those phrases we know so well such as "this is a wake up call"  "lessons to be learnt" enough to make you yawn!

Still strangely, Ed Miliband is reported as being "pleased" with Labour's local election results, pity he wasn't at Margate's Winter Gardens, to witness those smiles drain from Thanet's complacent Labour group, whom I'm sure had until the ballot papers spilled on to the tables for counting, no real understanding of the contempt most people have for the mainstream politicians.

It's easy to say that UKIP have campaigned on issues that are national, since they represent the scepticism of you and I, who struggle to think what if any benefit had come from membership to the EU their role in local politics is a bit vague that said the conversations I had with Mo Elenor, showed a concern for some of the profligate spending of Kent Tories which I share.

Without a doubt many deluded politicians will I'm afraid, see this week's vote as a protest, and not the act of desperation it clearly is.

Professional politicians who as well as representing those that vote for them mainly represent themselves and their own class of well healed and privileged people who are largely immune from everyday concerns of getting a job that pays a living wage or a school that provides a decent education for their kids.

So what should we, make of UKIP's success, clearly there is no doubt that a large section of the British public no longer buy into to the delusion, that an influx of four million migrants over ten years is desirable nor accept the idea there's been some economic benefit which outweighs the downside of  children placed in over-crowded schools teaching staff presumably coping with the additional burden of teaching English as a foreign language, the stress on health services, cut in wages of working people, housing the list is extensive.

Of course at this point in my posting, the many apologists or lackeys for our political status quo are enraged no doubt, ready to throw in the race card and with some justification, fairly quoting my slim grasp of the facts, as they see them but here's the truth mainstream political parties who've been responsible for or witness to a social and economic disaster, have refused to allow a public debate or explain the facts around mass migration, for the last few years, the mere mention of any concern around social upheaval is greeted by the establishment as indicative of neo nazi tendencies.

It's ironic that, the only candidate not to lose to UKIP here in Thanet was Will Scobie, whose Labour party are responsible for the economic and social disaster of the open door migration policy. Admittedly senior Labour bods who could have protected this countries interest are immune from the effect of their neglect, just look at Tony Blair, making millions and working with Kazakhstan, Israel and  now Burma both countries well known for Human Rights abuse.

As I see it complacent politicians from David Cameron to Ed Miliband and including Nick Clegg have ignored this issue, however for most British people the crisis, around migration has nothing to do with and racial overtones, it's just plain and simple a question of capacity, no provision or planning has taken into account a massive population explosion in this country allow the economy, health service, education, to grow to accommodate everyone. Thank god the above mentioned have never captained a ship because it would be overloaded and sink with the first big wave.

Finally failure to acknowledge the problem exists will if politicians don't do something  aid recruitment to extreme groups. On the plus side this weeks election hopefully buries that myth of the wasted vote, an idea promoted by establishment types.

Friday, May 03, 2013


A lovely day, for the counting of votes cast in the county elections, an interesting day I think for politicians as public think for themselves.

More later.

From looking at the ballot papers as they spill onto the tables it's not looking good for Labour Tory or Libdem