Friday, July 31, 2009

I dont normally copy Eastcliff or publish TDC PR

email re new ferry service

Sharon Kelley
date31 July 2009 15:08

hide details 15:08 (1 hour ago)

Follow up message
A new fast ferry service, which will provide great travel links between Ramsgate and Boulogne, has been agreed between Thanet District Council and Euroferries.

The new cross channel passenger service ‘ Bonanza Express’, will see five daily crossings between the two ports and will be operated in conjunction with renowned fast ferry operator Fred Olsen. It will carry a combination of cars, foot passengers, coaches and a limited amount of freight and caravans to the continent and is expected to commence in September.

A second vessel is expected to join the service in 2010 to help increase passenger capacity.

The state of the art ferry will reach speeds of up to 38 knots and is expected to provide a rapid journey time of 75 minutes. Onboard the vessel, passengers will be treated to an extensive ‘tax paid’ shopping area, restaurants and first class designated area.

As part of this agreement it is also anticipated that this new service will provide two dedicated passenger terminals, one at Ramsgate and one at Boulogne, which are expected to include shopping areas, restaurant and waiting lounge facilities.

Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr Roger Latchford said: “We are delighted that Euroferries, working in partnership with Fred Olsen will be operating out of the Port of Ramsgate. The council has been working very hard to regenerate the area of Thanet, and this additional ferry service, which will operate from Ramsgate will provide much needed employment opportunities as well as greatly enhancing tourism prospects to the area. The quick crossing times and easy access into both ports will make this service an attractive alternative route into France and will really prove an invaluable part of the wider regeneration of the district. This is a great attraction for Thanet and we extend a warm welcome to Euroferries and wish them every success.”

Per Staehr Chairman of Euroferries said: “The signing of this Agreement with Thanet District Council enables us to look forward to building a long term relationship with the local community. Our new five crossing a day high speed service, will be focused on tourist traffic and takes full advantage of the new motorways both to Ramsgate and Boulogne along with the fast turn round terminal facilities within both Ports. This agreement permits us to shortly announce the release of the new web booking service, further details and the provision of our new commuter coach service between London's Stratford Hub and Ramsgate serving Canterbury and the Medway towns. Whilst, today is Thanet District Council's special occasion, we are delighted to attend and to welcome our partner Fred Olsen. The impending arrival of Bonanza Express, Incat 96m in its new Euroferries livery will provide the opportunity for Euroferries to welcome you when we will make further announcements."

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group in Thanet, Cllr Peter Campbell, welcomed the news that EuroFerries are to run a new ferry service from Ramsgate Port. "This is really good news for Ramsgate & Thanet. Our Labour Group supports an expanding and vibrant port, creating new jobs and boosting the local economy. May this service flourish".


Sharon Kelley
Business Support Officer - Communications
Thanet District Council
PO Box 9, Cecil Street
Margate, Kent CT9 1XZ

Margate the worst retail vacancy rate (now there’s a surprise)

No surprise to observers of the sometime pitiful attempts to revive Margate, that the town has the highest number of vacant shops in the country.

Margate has had for a while various organisations that tag themselves with regeneration in their name or as a purpose, now it would be unfair to write off all their efforts but such notoriety will make the likelihood of revival harder.

At the risk of upsetting various quangocrats, “officers”, councillors and assorted “duckers and divers”, I’ve always felt that the local council have been negligent, in not being at the head of regeneration. Still realism is not something your likely to see from TDC who if anything have selfishly been the main cause of the demise of many of Margate shops, by taking over the main car park (Mill Lane) Monday to Friday thus depriving businesses of that essential supply of customers.

Its seems that all kinds of organisations, have wasted money, from KCC/Arts council, employing an expensive curator & staff of the as yet to be built Turner or TDC paying millions over the odds for the Marks & Spencer Building.

So far things that have bought, benefit to Margate are events such as Thanet Pride, Big Sky, quad bikes the Volley Ball and who knows maybe the controversial “Dippers and Divers” .

It seems the Margate regeneration game, is nothing new take a gander at this from 1936 report in the Times, still this is from a time when Margate was a destination for Britain’s holiday makers. Timesarchive

atmarg atmarg2

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whatever happened to

The Gallery on the Square, now before we go any further, that’s not some oblique reference to freemasons, although I’m sure some of my readers, like to relax in the company of friends by wearing a pinny and exchanging funny handshakes.

No I refer, to what used to be the entrance of Margate Library, before Kent Tories agreed to “brand” an oasis of relaxation, education and enlightenment (the Library) in to a hideous “Gateway” KCC’s multi agency, pigs breakfast contact point combining the all the ambience of a post office and or jobcentre.

Excuse the digression, anyhow when the Library was “improved” and entrance which used to contain an impressive oil painting (now disappeared), turned in to a separate room or Gallery, initially, there was a exhibition of photo’s from a council competition but I note that the room now appears deserted and unused.

This is no surprise to me, since to enter the “gallery” meant passing by council “officers” and residents discussing, personal matters, this gallery is of course no substitute for the area previously available in the Library showing local art etc upstairs in the library, still having once visited the new gallery, I found it intrusive as I’m sure others did, so maybe the council could make this room available, to those who don’t wish to discuss all their business in public, bit like freemasons really who unsportingly prefer to do business behind closed doors.

What ?

Sometimes you’ve just got to get out and about, breath some fresh air, as it happens I had a few loose hours, today wandering round the Capital.

I forget, when I’ve not been in London a while, the headlines promoting the Evening Standard, sometimes their concise and sometimes plain baffling.

This one, is about Jude Laws baby, which I find mystifying, until today all I knew about him, was he was that he appeared as a somewhat ruthless killer, in perhaps is the best “Gangster” film ever “The Road to Perdition” which the more times I watch, the more I think is the equal of the Godfather.

Mrs Me informs me that this was big news on GM TV, why, what’s the mystery? does he not know the mother of the baby, has she disappeared, even Mrs Me does not know the answer, should I care I’m not sure.

Still a mystery mother, I suppose is a rarer occurrence than a mystery father of whom I’m sure there are many, I should have bought the paper.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PC Playing up

service suspended till I fix computer or can blog with nokia 95 phone

And still no news of whereabouts!*

I accept that few take politics, democracy and freedom as seriously as my readers and I, but the lack of a response from Local Conservative leader Sandy Ezekiel is astonishing, it will be interesting to see whether Sandy Ezekiel will wrestle with his blackberry( I understand it might be broken) and reply to my email inquiry over Cllr Stephen Broadhurst.

Perhaps Sandy Ezekiel might notice the headline on the front page of this weeks Yourthanet, “Councillor must go, urge critics”, the only response from Tories, I’ve had so far, was one of his colleagues coming up with this gem in an email to me.

“I was under the impression, that no firm decision was taken yet, as to whether Cllr.Stephen Broadhurst would actually be in a position to take up full resident in Panama, but if this is the case, then I am sure Cllr.Stephen Broadhurst will informed his Conservative colleagues and members of TDC of his intention to resign when the time comes”

Well for most of us, apart from loyal Conservative colleagues, that time might have come! I said before that councillors should not be at the beck and call of residents but really living abroad makes it improbable that you can represent the electorate, so why not just resign.

* Since posting this I have received an email from Sandy Ezekiel for which I’d like to thank him, informing me that he’s in contact with Cllr Broadhurst and will keep me up to speed when he has a formal statement to make.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Search broadens for er Cllr Broadhurst

Shock Horror as today’s Thanet Times newshound Richard Spillett reveals his attempts to track down, our man in Havana sorry Panama, it seems that despite being more tenacious than I, even the global reach of Kent Regional Media has been ineffective in tracing the whereabouts of Cllr Stephen Broadhurst, who has the privilege, rarely exercised, of represent me and the people of Dane Valley ward.

Its 12 days since I wrote to Cllr Broadhurst and still no reply, clearly I’m not the only one to be concerned, I wrote to Tory boss Cllr Ezekiel who is I presume to worried to reply to my email.

For a more polished report click here for the Thanet Times story

Kent TV - If at first you don't succeed or best out of three

Events surrounding Kent TV, take yet another extraordinary turn, as a fresh scrutiny meeting is called for the 5th of August, although at the time of writing, the agenda has not been published, it's understood that the subject, will be the renewal of Kent TV's contract, with the Leader Paul Carter and Kent councils chief executive Peter Gilroy and KCC's media specialist Tanya Oliver apparently making themselves available to give evidence.

This subject was discussed a few days ago, during a cabinet scrutiny meeting, at which it was accepted that Peter Gilroy had acted properly in renewing the Kent TV contract having taken legal advice. Although my impression and recollection having seen the video of the meeting, was that the ordinary backbench council members were somewhat, taken aback that no discussion had involved ordinary members of the council.

To me it seems poor judgement that Council Leader Paul Carter, would want to discuss this subject, particularly as nobody was actually being as I recall accused, of any wrongdoing, although it seemed quite natural that the backbenchers who form the committee are clearly concerned about the degree to which decisions are remote from themselves.

Assuming this extraordinary meeting is at the request of the Leader, just what is he trying to achieved, is beyond me, does Paul Carter wish to object to the conclusion that Peter Gilroy had acted properly, does Paul Carter really wish to highlight concerns of backbenchers over governance, or even more remarkable the fact that senior council officers new that a major contract would end, having more than two years' notice and not arrange to put the contract out to competitive tendering, instead extending the current contract for a further seven months.

As I understand currently members of the public are not allowed to submit questions to KCC's Cabinet Scrutiny committee but if they were, I would like to know, why KCC neglected to either cancel the Kent TV project or arrange a proper competitive bidding process to continue it with more than two year notice I'd like to hear the excuse.

The only reason I can think of, for an extraordinary meeting, is because Paul Carter didn’t like the outcome of the previous meeting and wants another roll of the dice, hoping to put some gloss on what seemed an honest conclusion from the previous scrutiny committee, an attempt if you like, to rewrite history, is my conclusion still this whole affair is likely to backfire spectacularly, and I can't wait.

It seems to me that the main body of the Conservative party in Kent are a getting a little tired of the clique that run things in Kent elected or otherwise.

Update Click KCC Agenda for the meeting

Monday, July 27, 2009

Morrisons brimming with customers

The new Morrisons opened today, fed up with monoculture of tesco’s, I thought I'd go and have a snoop, sometimes with a new store the staff, are not up to speed, however in the new Morrisons which opened today, the staff, seemed efficient, although many customers appeared bewildered with little sense of direction myself included.

Apart from a birthday card, I didn’t really have much if anything I needed to buy, I never feel comfortable, just getting the one thing, and I suspect there were many like me just reconnoitering for the big shop.

Morrison's appears to have a wider selection of branded products than “own brands” and I couldn’t find the Polish quarter with its strange pickled veg and sausages familiar to Tesco’s. I expect for a day or two it will be mayhem. I’ll maybe go again next week, when it settles down and hope I don’t have the same women behind me, trying to gouge lumps out of my leg with her blimin trolley in the check out queue, why do women do that.

In answer to my Email

As you might expect from time to time, I actually fire off the odd email or two, in order to better understand situations, as you might guess quite a few go unanswered.

So its no surprise, that Richard Samuel TDC's Chief Executive, was a recent recipient of one of my rather blunt communications, concerning TDC’s Blogging protocol.

Mr Samuel has been kind enough to reply and his response seems balanced given the potential awkward and emotive issues involved.

For context, I also reproduce my uncharacteristically pompous email:-

Dear Richard Samuel

I understand that Thanet Council is in the process of drawing up a protocol concerning what councillors can and cannot say in print or to be more precise on Weblogs.

Thanet appears to be alone in this, as I understand there already exist strict guidelines from the Standards Board of England, which cover what councillors' should or shouldn't say, so it would seem such efforts are at best wasteful and at worst an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights article 10.

What really concerns me, is how the public perceive, such initiatives, since a number of complaints appear to have been made specifically toward Labour councillors, it gives or could give the impression that such a policy would be partisan.

Thanet Council surely has bigger challenges not least in sorting out some astonishing planning cock ups, asset disposals and the massive shortfall in revenue likely in the coming years.

Could you confirm whether TDC is to pursue its "blogging protocol" and since this concerns the neutrality of officers maybe you could answer it yourself.

Regards tony flaig Bignews Margate.

Richard Samuel’s Reply:-

Dear Mr Flaig
I have of course been following the local commentary on the Council's considerations on blogging and I am pleased to try to put the record straight on what we are trying to do.

First can I say categorically that we are in no way trying to restrict the right to free speech as some people have suggested. Blogs are a fact of life and increasingly an alternative to the traditional media. Like every other public organisation Thanet Council recognises that these new
forms of communication are developing rapidly and can often have a role as opinion formers in local communities.

Second we need to look at the role of local councillors as bloggers. What councillors do in their roles as community representatives is already regulated by the national law and through the rules of the Council's own constitution. The principle source of reference is the Code of Conduct for councillors which all councillors have to agree in writing their compliance with when they are elected. The code is
reproduced in full at Page 239 of the constitution which I provide thelink to
You will see if you read the Code that Councillors must behave in particular ways when they are exercising their roles as councillors.

Following a spate of exchanges between councillors on local blog sites over the past year I felt that better guidance needed to be given to councillors on what was and was not acceptable in terms of running a blog site (six councillors do) and in posting comments. I therefore discussed the need for this guidance with the Leader of the Council and
the Leader of the Opposition and it was agreed that the Council would prepare some guidance for councillors for consultation and discussion.

We are now nearly at the point where the Standards Committee will consider the first draft at their meeting on September 8th. The report will be publically available and of course the meeting is held in public. I envisage that the Standards Committee will agree to a period of consultation before deciding the final version for consideration by Full Council.

I hope this clarifies the position. Please feel free to reproduce on your blog site.

Richard Samuel
Chief Executive
Thanet District Council

“a public duty to be both courteous and responsible”

A quote and a belief I understand from Simon Moores as to values that councillors should share and the latest defence of Thanet councils attempt to curb free expression of elected representatives, (this is a reference to a proposed blogging policy understood to be work in Progress (for Simon Moores Benefit)).

No doubt these are values that everyone should aspire to, that said I’m sure that Simon Moores adheres to these, still there are other considerations, assuming my memory is accurate, didn’t he recently back Cllr Jo Gideon in a leadership contest against the incumbent Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, then the following day accept her cabinet post from the man he opposed.

I’m sure that he showed all the due respect and polite manners in accepting Cllr Ezekiel’s offer to sit at the top table and no doubt was acting responsibly in filling the vacancy. I’m sure he would measure up as well as his colleagues on all those other idealistic values, we like to think our politicians ought to possess.

The simple truth is that politicians if anything are mostly honest, mostly decent and always human.

If the council continue to pursue a blogging policy in addition to the already controversial “Standards Board” nonsense, they will in doing so, I feel bring Thanet Council in to disrepute.

I myself resisted the temptation to report one of Sandy’s colleagues who told me that all bloggers were “perverts”, clearly the councillor was “barking” but so what, it takes all sorts to make a council.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lets have a clear vision of Thanet not censorship

There's so many things I wished to talk about this last week, not surprisingly one is Thanet council's blatant attempt to curb free speech, in what to some is an extraordinary example of misuse of council officers time and if I might say so, the neutrality of officers as they draw up some ill judged blogging protocol.

Anyway moving on, according to page seven of this week's Gazette, Thanet council is at last considering making available video recordings of the authorities meetings, and in keeping with petty bureaucracy there are of course, conditions attached to what we can see, now in fairness, this is probably an over reaction, as the Gazette's report says that videos will be edited prior to being made available.

Now according to the brief article it says that recordings will be edited by the authorities communications department to ensure that nothing prior to the start or end of the meetings or confidential items are made public, hopefully they will just top and tail the meetings without chopping out things they don't like in the middle.

Just why council officers, Conservative members and to some degree Labour colleagues are so blimin sensitive over the inevitable petty point scoring and personality clashes in the council chamber is frankly beyond me, but if TDC Communications wallahs, seek to chop out bits that are unseemly then of course rightly they will be accused of political interference.

Local Conservatives seem obsessed with image, however at the end of the day for most people what counts, is the entirety of their performance, not how ludicrous they occasionally appear. What concerns the public are results or lack of them and that's what people vote on.

This week's council meeting, had the usual bun fight, mainly I think because Sandy Ezekiel, rightly wished to present the context of council finances, since Labour are the architects to some degree of this countries economic disaster, it's no surprise they threw their toys out the pram.

There are tough harsh decisions to be taken about public finances , uncomfortable as it may be, it's unavoidable that large cuts will be necessary at Thanet council, if for no other reason than because the money simply won't be there, I just hope the Conservatives and Labour both have the balls to face the facts and do what's necessary and be open about it, the public sector has bled the commercial world dry, large cuts are inevitable as will be the outcry from pampered state employees, it's just something politicians will have to get used to.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Sky Margate Jazz

Big Sky, Big Crowds and Big Deal (Christine Tobin’s Band) opening the show, Jazz not entirely my thing but it helped add life to Margate, in the sun listen to the music seeing the crowds it looked and felt how a seaside town should.

bs9 Anyway enjoyed Christine Tobin’s Big Deal, was quite surprised when as she was singing a Brazilian song, a young girl next to Mrs Me started singing along (I’ve not encountered anyone sing-along to jazz before), apparently after interrogation by Mrs Me the youngster admitted to knowing the song as she was Portuguese.

I forgot that there was also a craft and art market on in the market place in the old town, I believe its on tomorrow as well as more entertainment. Had to leave earlier than I would due other commitments.bs92

I noticed up near the West Coast they had more mainstream entertainment. I understand the sum will be shining again in Margate, might nip over for some more tomorrow.

A suggestion for the weekend

The sun looks likely to shine on Gods own seaside resort, so make the most of it and head for Margate.windy 1

In addition to the Jazz Fest may I suggest you take a gander at the Tudor House open this weekend (see here thanks Margate Architecture) , also Drapers Mill Windmill I believe will be open on Sunday 2pm till 4.walk1

Another suggestion would be for those who fancy a walk would be to use St. Peters Footpath which has been tidied up since I last travelled down it a year back, and its currently not necessary to take a machete with you either. Also its part of the Turner & Dickens Walk, still I took my bike.walk2

Friday, July 24, 2009

CRABS! and JAZZ this weekend in Margate

I think the two are unrelated, tonight big sky(Friday) saw the start of the Big Sky Jazz Fest details click here with Nigel Kennedy with free music Saturday and Sunday on the Piazza.

I think the Piazza is that bit opposite the Harbour Arm where on Sunday there will be a crabbing competition for kids (under 16 accompanied ) on Sunday between 3.00pm & 4.30pm, proceeds going to charity Teenage Cancer Trust.

Anyway I’m told its going to be a sunny weekend by Mrs Me so go out and have some fun.

Thoughts on last night's council meeting

Not much to report on last night's council meeting,  as you might expect much of the meeting was accompanied by the usual petty point scoring and general argybargy.  As always when referring to council meetings, I don't take copious notes, it's not a verbatim report and probably not entirely accurate but hopefully not too far from the reality.

Anyway guided by my unreliable memory, the thing started with a quick tussle over whether item 23 on the agenda should be debated in public or not, much hot air exchanged, my understanding is the item was excluded from public scrutiny,"on principle” or simply because it could be, since much commercially sensitive info is already in the public domain.

The next highlight was the Leaders report, which gained a fair bit of flak from the Labour side firstly I think over, whether questions could be asked, then once the dust settled on that issue, an explosion of indignation occurred because to accompany Sandy Ezekiel's report, he wished to enhance it by employing quotations from various sources, explaining how dire the country's financial state, is currently, Labour politicians seem to think this was a bit political?  So in the end we were saved from having Sandy Ezekiel read his leader's report.

Martin Wise introduced the subject of East Kent payroll services, notable inasmuch as its the precursor of savage cuts which will have to be made to Thanet District council over proceeding years, I have to say listening to the outline of how payroll services etc. are going to be streamlined, it seems to be a bit of a fudge, since although the majority of the work will be as I understand located in Dover, TDC will still have one or two involved locally. Naturally this streamlined service has been created by "officers" so to my mind is probably no where near as ruthless as it needs be, and brings me back to Turkeys not voting for Christmas. 

Perhaps the only real excitement of the whole evening came towards the end, when a member of her majesty's press was spotted by Sandy Ezekiel taking a photograph of proceedings, I honestly can't see the problem but the journalist was told not to publish the photograph, now I know in some primitive societies it's thought that taking the photographs will steal a person's soul, although that said, TV cameras are perfectly acceptable in the house of commons where things are a tad more professional.

Secrecy and control of information seems to be an obsession with Thanet District Council, and blogs not for the first time were mentioned during the debate on whether or not to allow item 23 of the agenda to be discussed in public.  Anyway at more on that subject shortly.

Just for balance here is Clive Hart’s reaction to the evening



Another impromptu performance from Tory TDC Leader Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel caused pandemonium in the council chamber at Thursday evening's meeting of Thanet District Council and at one point there was even an open attempt to ban opposition councillors from taking part in the proceedings.

Firstly, Cllr. Ezekiel tabled a written Leader's report to which opposition councillors were told they would have no verbal right of reply.  This in itself caused uproar in the chamber with serious concerns raised that such procedure could well be against the TDC constitution.

Not content with silencing opposition to his written report, Cllr. Ezekiel then tried to give a further power point presentation which, with only one slide up on the screen, was clearly shown to be a party political stunt.

Despite a torrent of calls from the chamber for Cllr. Ezekiel to abandon his blatant attempt at a Conservative party political power point broadcast, he simply would not give in and at one point he even begged the chairman to let him show his slides without commentary.

Cllr. Ezekiel's desperate pleas eventually proved futile, the council chairman was having none of it and after several minutes of chaos, she finally accepted Opposition Leader Cllr. Clive Hart's earlier proposal to simply note the written part of the Leader's report only and to move on.

Opposition Leader and Labour councillor Clive Hart said "I was appalled by Cllr. Ezekiel's behaviour and what happened here in the council chamber this evening.  We deal with written reports all the time at TDC and wherever necessary we robustly debate them.  The Leaders written report was supposed to be a new item for the council agenda but no-one had informed members that verbal questioning would not be permitted, that simply can't be right.  If ever there was an attempt to gag opposition councillors this was it!

Then, as if that weren't enough, we had the shameless attempt by Cllr. Ezekiel to use the council chamber and its equipment, all paid for by ratepayers, for nothing more than a party political stunt.  You can rest assured, I will be seeing the TDC Chief Executive ASAP".

Local planning leads to parking anarchy?

It seems these days, unless you happen to be one of the local elite (that is council employees) your chances of finding somewhere to park in Margate are somewhat limited.

I recently mentioned how people were parking in the marketplace in the old Margate Town, and I notice now that drivers are parking anywhere there happens to be a space, whether it's a double yellow lines or pavement.

Looking up from the back of the Winter Gardens I was just wondering whether it would be possible for an emergency vehicle to negotiate the road, when by coincidence a fire engine drove down to collect colleagues who I assume had been inspecting the building. breathin

Admittedly the vehicle passed with relative ease however impart I suspect that's down to the driver's skill and not considerate motorists.

I can only assume that Margate's parking anarchy results from a lack of strategic planning by TDC who seem willing to bend over backwards to assist property developers are without the considering the consequences.

Dreamland Trust receives cash boost

According to local newspapers, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the Dreamland Trust £384,500, good news for once, although at this stage the money given is just so much candyfloss, as campaigners now hope to apply for a further £2.65 million for the initial phase of the project.

Just while we're thinking about this, it will be interesting to know what is actually happening to the scenic railway, presumably Thanet council's planning department are dealing with this in their usual efficient way, which might explain why I can't actually recall how long ago one third of this structure was consumed by flames.

Margate as we all know has been subject to incredibly inept stewardship, which has pretty much encompassed Sandy Ezekiel's reign as leader of Thanet Council, in his time large swathes of Margate retail business has disappeared along of course with Dreamland amusement park.

In fact the only growth in recent years around Margate, has been of luxury flats, which in reality due to their poor construction, are in reality tomorrow's slums and in the main rented by families on low income and no suprise that some developments have gone spectacularly bust like the Seabathing development.

Any how it's pleasing to see that local campaigners will be receiving lottery funds, on a project that will be mainstream in its appeal, as of course the lottery is itself which makes a change since vast amounts of lottery funds usually head straight for art projects, that appeal to nobody except the delusional elite, the sort who consider Damien Hirst and dare I say Tracey Emin to be great artists.

A minor victory for the common man I think, although for myself rather than proposed heritage stuff, I'd rather see something a little more cutting edge than a heritage theme park, still I suppose like everything else, in Margate we will take what we are given.

click here for this is thanet story

click here for KM Online story

Thursday, July 23, 2009

“Duckers and Divers” Live Performance tonight

Not to be confused with Thanet’s other event on the 21st – 23 August a festival of Burlesque etc (isn’t that American) Dippers and Dunkers, costing the local taxpayer 30 grand.

No tonight’s entertainment is provided by Thanet Council’s regular ensemble of performers at the Council Chamber, masquerading under the title “Council meeting”.

The highlight for tonight is expected to be, a trick in which the agenda is made to disappear behind closed doors.

And if your thinking this is some cheapskate production, think again, these performers are together raking in £240,000 plus bonuses.

Click here for the programme

Time for a more democratic approach at Maidstone?

Yesterday's posting concerned Peter Gilroy's role as Chief Executive, ostensibly it was about whether Peter Gilroy had a conflicting interest, when he authorized the extension of the contract with the Ten Alps to produce another seven months of Kent TV.

But having the chance to view the discussion on KCC's website (not Kent TV and why not?), clearly there's a lot going on, firstly the decision to extend the contract itself, seems to have been handled in a particularly poor way, council officers, Peter Gilroy and Tanya Oliver were well aware of the contract period and when it would need to either be extended, put back out to tender, or canceled as one assumes councillors themselves might also have been aware, so why wasn't this matter dealt with by elected politicians.

It's clearly the case, that Kent TV itself, is a bit of a red herring, since the real point of issue appears to be democratic control. I suggest if you're interested in democracy, that you take time to examine the video from KCC's website covering the debate, listening to the councillors it's clear are concerned about democratic accountability.

Since Kent TV was first suggested, I've not thought it, necessarily the best use of council taxpayers' money, but beyond that, it's very creation appears to have come not from a political agenda, supported by County councillors but at the suggestion of council officers with some support from Cabinet members but not I suspect the majority of councilors.

As I say, I suggest you watch, this part of the meeting, because I'm sure you'll get a very strong sense, that ordinary county councillors, are worried about the democratic process being sidestepped "It's really a question of who makes the decisions." Cllr Richard King


To view the meeting please note the section to be watching starts at Index Point 02:39:55 Mrs Dean (Chair) which you will need to click on once you arrive at the web page click here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chief Executive queried over conflict of interests with Kent TV

According to that rare exponent of political commentary in Kent, Paul Francis, Kent Messengers political editor, Kent TV is once again immersed in controversy.

He reveals in his "blog" that at a recent meeting, both Councillor Trudy Dean (Liberal Democrat) and cllr Roger Manning (conservative) quizzed the chief executive Peter Gilroy as to whether there had been a conflict of interests in extending the contract, for Kent TV, as he is also the chairman of the board of governors for Kent TV. The council's cabinet scrutiny committee accepted Mr. Gilroy had acted properly having taken a legal advice.

That said there was a pretty big "HOWEVER" this from Pauls article "Some of the strongest criticism coming from Conservative backbenchers on the committee. Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) said that "it failed the public interest test" while fellow Conservative James Scholes said it was "inconceivable" that the public wouldn't think there had been a possible conflict of interest."

Mr. Gilroy apparently told KM's Paul Francis that he was "puzzled" by concerns expressed, now I have to say for myself, I'm not puzzled, that he was puzzled , having on more than one occasion, received email replies which seemed to side step the issues, I’d raised including the one I received offering the chance meet the great man(which I declined).

Kent TV has failed achieve one of its main goals which was to save costs and attract self funding it seems surprising that a seven month extension to what has proved an expensive contract was even consider, since there seems no political will, in as much as Paul Carter’s Tory’s didn’t even mention it in their recent manifesto.

Clearly Peter Gilroy, Chief Exec, is interested in Media, since in addition to being Chairman of the Board of Kent TV, he also happens to be a member of Kent Film & Television Board (vice chair), which recently announced an investment of some £75,000 ploughed into a film ‘The Calling’, starring Brenda Blethyn, who also is a member of Kent Film & Television Board (Chair).

The film has been extensively reported in local media, whether this is another of those contentious areas remains to be seen, one worry I had was the investment, all the reports I saw, failed to ascertain whether KCC would get money back if the film proved a success and after some weeks probing I was told that money would be repaid.

Kent has now decided to lob £200,000 a year into film investment it will be interesting whether we emerge with Hollywood Maidstone or more likely Follywood. This you will note is another of those diversions from normal local government its claimed that the £75 grand invested has seen a £500,000 spend in Kent, bit like Reaganomics a rather fanciful idea.

We might have to wait a few years for the true story to emerge as to whether Kent council, are right to invest in media, perhaps when and if the KCC Film Office, funds “Peter Gilroy” the movie, which along with the odd documentary on Kent TV (Bob Geldoff reminisces) will we then be able to fully assess Kent’s Film & TV experiment.

Since the subject of this post is “conflicts of interest”, I ought myself to declare my own interest, inasmuch as around this time last year, Ten Alps contractors for KCC who happened to produce Kent TV, took exception to my comments concerning Kent Council and freemasons, as regular readers will know, eventually after some pressure, King Council accepted that I was entitled express opinions in line with the European convention of human rights. All in all KCC and its contractor could have saved themselves some publicity.

Morrisons Car Park full already

With Morrisons opening next Monday, I thought I’d just take a nose particularly as one of my readers bought up the subject of Thanet Councils largess, not to the public but staff who are given free and preferential parking rights.

I have reported on this subject, on more than one occasion particularly Mill Lane car park, which is almost entirely occupied by council staff, Monday to Friday.

Its my theory that Margate businesses, have been stifled over the years by selfish council employees, taking up all the convenient and cheaper parking. Ramsgate town is still a viable shopping area, in part because the multi story car park is available to shoppers, all week and not just weekends with no freeloaders.

Its no surprise that the Thanet council have done nothing to address this problem, over the years, since as we all know, Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas (apologies for early seasonal reference).

Cllr Martin Wise, Thanet council’s cabinet member for finance has I believe, suggested that the council will be facing big cuts in funding, in future years, so maybe, before he starts carving Turkey, he could at least get rid of the parking free for all, particularly for over paid senior officers who had an inflation busting pay increases earlier in the year.

Lets hope on Monday when Morrison’s open their doors they’re not contemplating a full car park of council dib dobs with no paying customers. Morrison’s offer a bit of retail biodiversity in an area dominated by Tesco, lets hope their business is not suffocated by inconsiderate and selfish council as has clearly been the case for the high street.

Margate’s chances of thriving are severely impeded, by excluding the public from car parks and TDC’s predatory policy of forcing the public to use expensive on street parking.

Update I thought I’d just check and understand that although vehicles I saw yesterday parked in College Rd car park had council permits they’re not entitled free parking in that car park.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Out of Site/sight out of mind

I thought I’d take a wander down to the front and see how work was progressing on the Turner Contemporary.

It appears that some concrete bits are already protruding from the ground and everyone’s looking busy.dangergate

Still being the slightly negative sort of busy body that I am a couple of things caught my eye one was the sign on the gate warning of Danger and Deep Excavations, good to see, pity though, it happened to be attached to a gate that was wide open. I’ve since rung the contractor pointing out the risk.opengatedanger

Not having offspring of school age I’m taking a guess that if kids haven’t been liberated for the summer, they soon will be, and signs indicating danger, may well deter some teenagers from going where they shouldn’t but not always, apart from building sites, our coastline and railways are also big danger for kids.

On a less important matter I noticed that along the sea wall in front of the construction site, that litter bins were overflowing still I suppose its only Tuesday. Yes I rang the council, as per usual the phone is answered immediately by some hyper-efficient robot (just to punish you for ringing, “we’re terribly busy blah blah blah), looks like they have a new toy, they now rack up your phone bill for an additional minute offering you the opportunity to give feedback on your call.literandcrap

I opted to have the call back, to give my feedback. As you can imagine, the feedback call is every bit as irritating as you might expect, the one bit of blimin feedback I wanted, was to ask them, why, answer calls with a bloody robot to tell the caller, you can’t answer the call, just don’t answer it then I can wait the extra ten seconds it generally takes to answer the call.

Wonder if they cleaned up the bins?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Email to Sandy Ezekiel

Apologies for the graphics, I’ve had a long weekend.broadhurst

Just to update you, on my quest for information, concerning Cllr Stephen Broadhurst, at the point of writing I’ve not seen, any evidence that he is seeking to continue to represent residents of Margate’s Dane Valley ward on Thanet District council. see earlier posting.

I have sent Cllr Sandy Ezekiel, Thanet’s Conservative leader an email details below and copied these to his colleagues.

As far as I’m aware Cllr Stephen Broadhurst resides in Panama and I cannot see how he can represent constituents from 5000 miles away the situation seems unjust and indefensible. (I include the graphic so that conservative members can have some clue of just how remote Panama is from Thanet).

our leader

Copy of email text sent (today) to TDC Leader with copies emailed to all his fellow members

Dear Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel Leader Thanet District council

Last year there was some concern, expressed by local residents, regarding the apparent fact that your colleague and fellow Conservative member Cllr Stephen Broadhurst, had moved to Panama to live and work.

I think at that at the time, it was suggested that he going on business trips, which of coarse would not be unreasonable but looking at his attendance record at TDC, its evident that he is not often in Thanet.

If his circumstances have changed and he no longer resides in Thanet or indeed the U.K., in the sense that he spends most of his time living and working ,elsewhere such as in Panama, maybe you could suggest that he resigns from the council, to allow someone else the privilegeof representing the electorate of Dane Valley.

Perhaps you could ask Richard Samuel to help you, look into the legality of this situation as a matter of some urgency.
No reasonable person would expect a councillor to be slavishly at the beck and call of the electorate but having a councillor based in Panama assuming that is correct, appears to me and I suspect to you and your colleagues as an untenable situation.

Please note I have copied this to your colleagues and will shortly publish this to my website as democracy is best observed in public.

Regards tony flaig Bignew Margate

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Sun Shines for Thanet Pride

Despite the dismal forecast, not unusually the weather was better than expected and probably better than the rest of Kent.

The event seems bigger than last year, and looked busier than last, Buck Fizz were much appreciated and the entertainment was of high standard.

As I mentioned before, events like these are far better for Margate businesses, than the Big Event and I imagine a lot cheaper.

Its suggested that the big event, cost well over £100,000 not that we’ll be told, for my money, the council ought to seek out, similar events and bung in ten grand or so to organisers.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Concern is growing over the whereabouts of Local Man? Stephen Broadhurst, as the electorate in Dane Valley ask where is he?

Details are sketchy but what we do know is that according to Thanet District Council’s website Mr Broadhurst is a local district councillor, apparently representing Dane Valley, although it is understood, that he might have upped sticks and moved to Panama, where its alleged he now lives.

Still contradictory evidence exist, that he has shown up at the Thanet council chamber a few times this year, three to be precise, in a sort of cluster between 26th Feb and 23rd April, although Dane Valley ward has three representatives, it must be a burden if he is living in Panama for his colleagues *Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell & Cllr Michael Jarvis to have to fill in.

Currently I have some concerns over the councils neglect of Northdown House, which incidentally looks set to continue, now I could go to his colleagues but since they also represent my interests at county level, they seem to be fairly well occupied.

Incidentally looking at TDC’s attendance records Cllr Michael Jarvis looks to be a bit of a swot having at this point 100% attendance record, Cllr Ted Watt-Ruffell has a more run of the mill showing of 84% attendance (still turning up for 16 meetings) but Cllr Stephen Broadhurst efforts in my opinion are dismal attending only 33% of meetings (3) being a “no show” for 6 meetings.

The scant details on TDC’s website inform us that Cllr Broadhurst is a business man, so hopefully he will understand, the concept of value for money, I assume that Cllr Broadhurst takes his “allowance” of £4360, and I’m sure if that’s the case he wont mind if I say, what if anything do we get for our money.

I understand that for Cllr Broadhurst to retain his place, on the council he will have to show up, sometime in October perhaps for the Council meeting on 15th October or if he wishes to push the envelope “East Kent Joint Arrangements Committee Wednesday, 21st October, 2009 10.00 am” as I understand councillors have to show up every six months.

Of course since Cllr Broadhurst is a member of Conservative group so really, if Leader Sandy Ezekiel had any commitment to the people he’s supposed to represent, surely he would ask him to resign.

I would hate to think that Cllr Broadhurst is just using the Thanet taxpayer as an additional income stream.

If Cllr Broadhurst doesn’t want the job or is unable to represent the electorate then why not simply resign! There are those who would be more than happy to represent the taxpayer and residents in Dane Valley.

If you’ve seen Cllr Broadhurst please let us know.

Ps It seems that technically, you could get yourself elected, turn up twice a year live on the blooming moon and trouser £2180 per meeting now I know these are boring but come on!


Thursday, July 16, 2009


It's good to see that the Thanet Pride, will once again be entertaining visitors and locals, taking place on Marine Drive, Margate, this Saturday in addition to funding from Thanet District Council, it's pleasing to see that the lottery fund, have given a grant of £6000 to the organisers. And it's nice to know that once in awhile lottery money turns up here in the Isle Of Thanet, rather than just going to expensive and hideous art projects. Pride stage

Just looking at the acts appearing it seems that the organisers have secured quality entertainment including eurovision stars Bucks Fizz, this event improves every year, and will probably bring more money into Margate than say the big event which is staged in the commercial wilderness of palm bay cliffs.

Hopefully visitors to the area will be taking the opportunity to squander vast amounts of cash in the hotel's pubs cafes restaurants shops and galleries in the vicinity, Margate needs more events like this which actually draw people into the town centre, perhaps Margate regeneration industry can help attract more events like this to improve visitor numbers.

Any how for more details click here for the Thanet Pride website.

Community Service

Why is it that whenever I see or hear of Jack Straw, the following words come into my head "smug", "pompous", "sanctimonious" and "tit".

Maybe it's the patronising way, that Jack Straw seems to engage with great British public. I recall in 1997 after suggesting that parents ought to take more responsibility etc. for their children, he himself as Home Secretary learnt from the Mirror things about his own family that needed sorting. jackstraw

So you're asking what's he done to offend me, its just, that Jack Straw, apparently, welcomes the idea of criminals wearing orange high viz vests, according to the Sun.

As most people in my industry wear orange high-vis clothing, there's a chance that low life criminals, could be confused with hard working industrious types like me.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate, if criminals on community service, could, instead wear lounge suits like Jack Straw, admittedly there's a danger they might be confused with politicians but then they shouldn't have committed a crime, in the first place.

The Suns Story

Bignews Margate free for all

You'll be pleased to know that comment moderation is off, frankly I get a little tired when contributors overstepped the bounds of what is reasonable, that said I get even more tired when I have to act as arbiter, on what is true honest decent etc.

Frankly as I said before politics is a dirty game, few politicians are gentleman and that's how it's always been.

Anyhow I suggest that readers, take comments made on this website with a pinch of salt and then some, I would particularly suggest that comments made anonymously should be given considerably less credence than those made by traceable contributors such as those who actually give their name and or have a logged in to their Google account etc. before making their comments.

I had a particular complaint from someone calling themselves Anne who didn't appear to be logged into any open ID account click here for details, since Anne seemed so excitable, I thought what the hell and pressed publish what appears to be a questionable opinion.

To some extent I feel that I may have been manipulated, over the last few days, so don't allow yourself into the same situation, do what I normally do which is question what I’m being told.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Re Comment Moderation

I have decided to remove all anonymous comments on this weeks contentious issue. Not something I like to do and it may seem arbitrary but rather than act as judge and jury on how big, a bite, an anonymous contributor can take out of somebody, they oppose, I thought it would be the even handed thing to do.

Anonymous contributions will always be welcome except on issues which become personal.

Anonymity is a great thing for those who wish to express an honest opinion but if it makes you feel braver then examine your motives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Email Received From Cllr Clive Hart Leader of Thanet Council Labour Group

I thought this text of an email sent to me by Cllr Clive Hart might add some balance to the concerns of Parish Councillor John Worrow.

Please note that I have enabled comment moderation, since it would appear there has been a concerted theme on some comments made earlier which I will remove should Mark Nottingham request, having already offered the same facility to John Worrow.

From my perspective this all seems a mountain of a molehill, it is the case as I understand that Mark Nottingham is not in a position to respond, until he receives official conformation that a Standards board complaint has been withdrawn.

It is also worth putting in context that some members of the conservative group, are apparently backing moves by council officers to curtail or constrain what councillors can and cannot say via the internet. Why they would wish to restrict or “bully”*, councillors in what they say is a matter of conjecture, but I have my theories.

*since that seems to be the buzz word this week



On your blog Cllr. Worrow has very selectively quoted just a very small part of an email I sent to him which I thought was a private matter.
However, as he has seen fit to quote from it, please feel free to print it in full for your readers.
Please be absolutely clear - I was certainly not commenting on any particular article or blog as Cllr. Worrow was not at all specific, I was simply responding to his earlier email of 12th July which I also paste below.
Cllr. Worrow
I respond to your email of 12th July, pasted at the end of this email.
Firstly, please be absolutely assured that in the Labour Group we will not tolerate bullying of any kind from anyone and I hope you will note that wherever and whenever necessary, Labour members have stood firm and fought strongly against such behaviour up to and at the very highest level within TDC.
I'm afraid I am not aware of the 'cyber bullying' to which you refer but the Labour Group has very strict checks and balances in place and every member is aware of their personal responsibility for their own blog sites. You will know as a politician yourself that we all have to accept some political knockabout and indeed in the run up to the last local and Parish elections I understand you spent a considerable amount of time attempting to work with other parties in an adverse way against your Conservative opponents in Birchington.
I do understand that some Conservative members at TDC may want to exert 'control' over internet blog sites but I can assure you, we in the Labour Group value freedom of speech.  I am also aware of statistics that clearly indicate there is a real issue with the number of Conservative members reporting other council members on standards issues.  If TDC MEMBERS decide these matters should be debated at full council, we in the Labour Group would be only too happy to do so - and robustly!
As for the tone of your email, I take exception to the arrogant manner in which you try to tell me what is, or is not, my moral responsibility in the first sentence, and I am offended by the sentence near the end written in red ink - you can expect what you like but I will do whatever is correct in any given circumstances after giving all matters, views and opinions my full consideration!
Cllr. Clive Hart - TDC Labour Group Leader.
Dear Cllrs Hart, Mc Castree and Ezekiel
As TDC group leaders, I am sure that each of you will acknowledge that you have a moral responsibility to ensure that your members do not engage in cyber bullying.
As local government representatives we all have a duty to set an example to young Internet users.
A number of  parish, town and district colleagues have expressed the view that new rules are needed relating to this subject; therefore I feel that it is necessary for TDC councillors to debate the anti-cyber bullying issue at full council, in particular the need to adopt new rules relating to councillors that run their own Internet blogs.

 Cyber bullying is insidious; bystanders can become accessories by passing on a humiliating message.

If a council member continues to engage in this destructive activity after being reported, I would expect the leader of the group concerned to take unilateral action against the member.
I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely

Cllr John Worrow

Birchington Parish Council member