Monday, August 13, 2007


A weeks or so back I attended the of Thanet District council cabinet meeting, as ever this was a fairly tedious gathering, myself being 1/3 of the public audience. Looking around the room, I considered what sort of democracy we actually have in this country, and felt deeply disillusioned.

I'm no expert in council meetings, and cabinet meetings appeared to be even less democratic than the full council. Basically my interpretation of a cabinet meeting, is a public announcement of policies that have already been decided by the top nobs of the ruling group, allowing opposition members to beg for leniency, and the ruling group to make derisory comments or be magnanimous where applicable.

Even more unsettling, are the ranks of council officers, who appear to sit behind, you're elected representatives, apart from I think the chief executive, Richard Samuel who if my memory serves me correct, sits next to the leader Sandy Ezekiel. Now why do I say unsettling, well the fact is again going from memory, these paid " professionals" are occasionally requested to chip in with advice or their opinion, which makes you wonder, why every four years we go through the process of electing representatives, surely there must be more to local elections, than providing an opportunity for council employees to earn an extra quid or two by sitting in a draughty church hall handing out ballot papers.

Anyway as you will appreciate, I have not been blogging much recently, this may be because I'm either bored, disillusioned or have better things to do. As it happens, this weekend I had a chance to get out into the countryside, and wound up on the downs above the village of Wye, from the top of these hills there are some magnificent views, but looking towards Wye I was reminded of how not long ago, big business, Ashford borough council, and Kent County council, had plans drawn up to encircle the village with a a vast new housing estate, on some apparent flimsy excuse that Imperial college were building a high tech science park. Fortunately due to tenacious public spirited locals, an embarrassed Imperial college were forced to back down on their outrageous plans to destroy an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Now coming back to my reason for attending, the recent cabinet meeting, my concerns are with Thanet District councils, plans for Dreamland amusement site, as well as proposals to block traffic along Marine Terrace, and send it into the back streets of Margate. Now without consultation with the locals, the council's brilliant planning office, have apparently decided to ignore their previous plans for Dreamland, and just to put the icing on the cake will create traffic chaos of a far greater magnitude than when the county council put traffic lights at the clock tower.

Now there will be a public consultation over this, but if you're anything like me, you will realise that a public consultation, is a process whereby councilors and local bureaucrats put forward an idea then proceed to ignore any criticism and do, what they were going to do anyway, just so that they can wallow in their own self righteousness.

The council in arriving at their plan, have not consulted with any member the public, they have spoken with interested parties, the developers, various government departments and quangos, even the campaign for Dreamland (a group which seems to be interested in prehistoric fairground rides) whose leader according to Eastcliff Richard is not even local.

My personal judgment of local democracy, is that it doesn't actually exist, at least not in any meaningful way. Still when you consider the handful of people, who actually are involved in the democratic process, it's no surprise that, things are as they are.

For further information, firstly I suggest you, have a nice walk in the countryside out at Wye click here for details, to clear your mind, then maybe look at the " save" website to get an insight into how local government really works. I would particularly recommend this posting which refers to "corruption".


  1. Yawn, yet again all you can do is attack the SDC. I must admit I would rather have the whole site as a modern park but the local authority clearly dosen't and isn't interested in helping.

    If the heritage park secures the Scenic and some kind of amusement park then what else is their to do.

    You can keep fighting but the developers are only looking out for making money.

    Its disappointing that loacls such as yourself and Eastcliff Richard couldn't get off your backsides and campaign for its future rather than leaving it until 'out of towners'.

  2. I agree with the marvellous views over Wye and read the battle that ensued some time ago. Being long in the tooth now I can not offer any practical help but applaud all those that can do something. Trouble is Thanet has always been a bit on the slow side.
    Everyone wants a theme park of some kind and I thought a smugglers paradise would be good. Unfortunately there would be no immediate return for the money invested and the powers that be want to make a fast buck.
    We will miss it when it's gone.

  3. "Democracy", said the Greek general, Alcibiades, "is acknowledged folly"

    But it's all we have and I grant you, it doesn't work particularly well in modern societies!

    There's always the Taleban I suppose!

  4. How is it that the Councillors once elected seem to see everything in a different light? The Circus came to Dreamland on the promise of the funfair which was duly put on the rendezvous car park ! The report on the Margate Old town with so many empty buildings was infomative, but what ARE they doing about it? I know lets build a Turner Centre the majority of the people don't want! Still I suppose they will eventually need another immigration block to match he one proposed at the Nayland Rock!

  5. Linda, the Turner centre is being paid for by KCC and others. We have a choice. We accept it and the money that goes with it, as part of a broader strategy to regenerate Margate or we let the money go elsewhere; Folkestone perhaps?

    What would you do?

  6. anonymous 1155 I am not attacking the council merely stating the situation, as to getting off my backside, I have written many thousands of words on local issues. Just what the hell have you done?

    Forget the platitudes Simon, I want democracy and accountability however I agree with the our last point.

    Unfortunately Linda the Turner contemporary is as good as it gets.

  7. I realise that KCC and other funding are going into the building of the Turner thing!! I happen to know that TDC have given the ground for the purpose though, therefore encouraging it. With the building that I saw in model form earlier in the year I would much prefer they sent it to Folkestone. I am not seeing much regeneration at the moment in Margate, but go along Ramsgate Pier and look back and what a different town you get. They also have boats in the harbour!! Just for info as well, I am a member of Manston Parish Council

  8. Well, did you know that the CE of TDC lives in Wye ?
    Maybe the save Wye Group had some expert, inside advice !!!
    Dr Moores says that KCC are paying for the Turner Centre, well actually its OUR money they are using as indeed is all the other funding, it all comes from the Taxpayer in one form or another.It is very clear that WE dont want OUR money spent on this arty farty, pretentious, expensive white elephant.

  9. Don't agree with you Observer on whether we want the Turner Centre. I think it'll be a great boost for Margate and we should end all this inverted snobbery and carping and accept that regeneration takes many forms, and the Turner Centre is legitmately one of them.

    On the funding, you are dead right, but of course it doesn't suit Simon's argument to agree with you.

  10. On the point of funding, I would agree that KCC is indirectly using "Our" money, so is central government and I don't happen to agree with a great deal of what they spend my taxes on. Fortunately and where local democracy is concerned, I do have 1/70,000 of a say in Thanet every few years!

  11. Tony, when almost everyone else - especially our 'local newspapers' - ignored the plight of Wye you resolutely kept on mentioning it. Things were very busy then so I never got around to telling you how grateful we were, and how many people in Wye read and appreciated your comments. Well now you know.
    The tone of your blog is at times tired and a touch despairing and as someone who's been through the same kind of battles I fully understand why. This is a long hard slog against people who will simply sit back and never, ever list. But you are never jaundiced about this wonderful county we're privileged to live in. You save your ire for the clique of self-serving figures who seek to run it and never seem to pass up an opportunity to milk it for profit. I now know only too well how accurately placed your criticisms are.
    Wye was a sign that we can win against these people - but perhaps not using the nice, friendly, middle class tactics of old (which they have certainly abandoned). save-wye is now in suspended animination but it is now on close to 124,000 visitors in total, and a few of them have tales to tell of victories elsewhere, in Wrotham and Cornwall and Surrey to name just a few. Every victory counts.
    We need voices like yours to keep raising these issues. Don't give up - and thanks for your support when we were in the bleakest of times.

  12. Local democracy - heavens forbid that means that as a councillor I would have to be accountable. As it is now I have been elected to the council I can ensure that local government officers grovel at my feet while rubber stamping my planning applications, (which had been turned down for years), and I don't have to worry about irrate locals as the officials fob them off for me. I can now do as I like and be acccountable to no one - please don't mention local democracy again - it will never and should never ever happen! (By the way - if you are having problems getting a planning application approved just get elected - it will solve all your problems)