Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Its been a few days since I posted, I would have earlier but my apple (iphone) ate my profound thoughts on what was the most marvellous brilliant and significant event in a long time for my family.

The long and short of it, is that Me and Mrs Me are now very proud grandparents, I’m not sure whether I will be gramps grandad or what, frankly it doesn’t matter.

Our grand daughter arrived Saturday morning a few days later than expected, myself and Mrs Me just happened to be close by the Maternity when she arrived.

Although I always look like a miserable old git, I cannot tell you how happy and proud, I am at this time and what a privilege it is to be a grand parent of such a marvellous baby, who incidentally not only smiled but also winked at her grandad (cynics might say that is just some random expression, not so).

Me and Mrs Me left the house last Saturday Morning as parents and returned as grandparents a true landmark in our lives.

I’m proud of both of our children and its great to see the next generation of family, our beautiful granddaughter is lucky to have such wonderful parents.

I don’t as a rule mention family, so I’ll leave the subject now although I still just remember the great joy and responsibility of becoming a parent, fortunately my kids seem to have done alright for which I take no credit as many blokes do, despite knowing every thing, I delegated to mum.

Still I hope I don’t turn out like one of those clichéd or caricatured grandads’ a sort grumpy old man who’s opinionated and speaks out at inappropriate times/situations and is generally embarrassing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kent Leader Paul Carter ought to explain £365K payment or go! (it is our money after all)

Last week after all that malarkey with Kent council paying out big sums to former employee Adam Wilkinson, the thought occurred even in the somewhat exceptional world of Kent council paying out all large sums of dosh, for the sheer hell of it, this was nothing if not improbable.

Then I got to thinking the rather bland, none to conclusive statement from Kent Councillor, Roger Gough Cabinet Member, quoted by km online in this article was interesting for the part in which he mentioned the onerous legislation but did not detail exactly why it was necessary to hand out large sums of Wonger (365K) to Mr Adam Wilkinson.

I just wonder whether we were hasty in conclusions drawn and whether Mr. Wilkinson, might have been placed in a situation by the council, that made his continued employment untenable, in which case maybe the payment of £365,000 was compensation for some failing of the council.

That might explain why Cllr Gough said this “We are unable to say more because of the contractual agreement made with Mr Wilkinson” its often the case that when legal teams settle disputes, the side required to pay out, offers settlement on the basis of confidentiality, usually so as not to appear, to have been in the wrong, a face saving exercise.

Whatever the case Kent owes us more than some vague twaddle, perhaps the previous Chief Executive could give an account of the reasons for the payment because surely he would have been involved. It is important for the taxpayer to know if this money was simply given away on a whim, which certainly appears to be the case.

Paul Carter in my opinion, needs to explain why a council officer, after 12 months of service, decided to leave and then presumably request compensation, and why, was then necessary to pay £365,000 for what we don’t know, all this frankly does not stack up.

Kent Messengers Paul Francis also wonders if there is more to this than meets the eye and this comment piece is a bit more informed than mine. Its worth noting I recall around the same time as Mr Wilkinsons leaving there were a few other changes in senior posts at KCC which might be relevant.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Press Office – Nearly a million a year is it fit for purpose.

As a blogger I feel in awe of journalists, the word is one I don’t like to use in any connection with blogging, even when its prefaced with citizen- I know my limitations I don’t write I “post”, the finished article is a post. The fact is a journalist is someone who has to be able to produce saleable, readable space filling text which is informative, entertaining or thought provoking etc.

As a blogger I’ll sometimes contact media departments, some are helpful, some aren't apparently, KCC Media & Communications which cost you and I £807,000-00 to run in the year 2008-9 admittedly it’s less than the termination bonuses/payments of three senior Kent “officers” in the last year, anyhow I feel they could be a lot more helpful. As an example I asked to have a copy of the full statement** (assuming there may have been more than was quoted) given on behalf of KCC by Cllr Gough, quoted in an article by Paul Francis as explaining the extraordinary payment to former KCC employee Adam Wilkinson, I understand the “officer” I spoke with would have to get permission?

Now I can understand, the irritation of having me on the end of a phone, so I recently sent a long verbose email, the content of which and ensuing responses are detailed below, basically asking why officers in the past have not done what they said they would do and whether bloggers were not treated equally with proper professionals. The response was no surprise and looked like the bland evasive response I fully expected.

It’s my opinion that Kent’s press office does not serve the community, the only time I got a rapid response from them was when I speculated that the then Chief Exec and couple of others might have gone off on some overseas mission courtesy of local taxpayer, I was quickly disabused of that, apparently it was er taxpayers via the EU paying similar but different.

I think its time “officers” went back to that public service ethos rather than all that recent claptrap about Kent being a business.

Anyhow if your not entirely exhausted by the above here’s that recent email correspondence. I think having read the reply I got, the author some how decided to answer just my first point.

My** next post is my conclusion as to why KCC paid out 360 odd thousands to Adam Wilkinson, of course it will all be conjecture since Kent Council and Kents Conservatives don’t want us knowing too much do they!

** A copy of the statement arrived after I posted this

This email is intended for Jane Clarke Head of Communications and Media Centre

Hi Jane Clarke

I wonder if you could please be kind enough to explain what the role of your department is.

The reason, I ask, is this, as a blogger wishing to comment on local affairs, sometimes I refer to KCC polices, initiatives and departments, I have on occasion requested information from your colleagues, who always sound helpful and frequently offer to come back with information on the same day, however in practice this is rare.

I'm drawn to the conclusion that your department, is whether by design or lack of resources etc, choking off legitimate enquires.

An example, last week I had been invited to speak at a debate held by the media dept at Canterbury Christchurch Univ. as background, I thought it relevant to have some idea of the resources or budget KCC had at its disposal in informing the public, despite your colleagues claiming they'd call back, no surprise that they didn't.

I appreciate that you deal with "professional" journalists, and I'm just a blogger but I do have a readership, some of whom include " professional journalists", so could you at least set me straight as to whether your department treats inquires equally or what?


tony flaig - Bignews Margate

4 Jun

Dear Mr Flaig‬
Thank you for your email received yesterday requesting information about the role of KCC's Press Office.
We will reply with the information you request in the next two working days.
Phil Scrivener
Senior Media Relations Officer
Kent County Council

8 Jun

Dear Tony

You asked about the role of the press office. The main role is to help keep our residents informed about the wide range of public services that the council delivers and any changes in services that affects them.

The press office team promotes the activities, decision and policies of the council and we respond to a large number of calls from the media on a variety of subjects. As you know, we are the largest shire authority in the country. Our services are delivered to over

1.4 million people and cover a wide range of areas such as education, social services, sports development, arts, libraries, public health, environment, highways, waste disposal, recycling, and corporate issues.

The team communicates in a variety of different ways - through our website, press releases, photos, short films, events and Twitter.


Phil Scrivener

Kent County Council

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TEN THINGS I’VE DONE - as a result of blogging

I realise I’m not loved by all, one cheeky contributor today dared to suggest that this blog is all about me (why are they always anonymous) plus hinting that I might be a neo-nazi, if only I’d know I could have saved that contribution to Lib Dem funds last week.

Anyhow I’m prepared to acknowledge the more minor charge of being self obsessed and plead guilty, having stumbled across this little list wrote out on my phone gizmo during a break TEN THINGS I’VE DONE – as a result of blogging (yes I am that self obsessed).

Number one – accepted an invitation to speak by to speak on media issues from an academic
Number two - made and lost a friend
Number three - appeared on the telly
Number four - been threatened with legal action
Number five - sometimes had more influence than I ever thought possible
Number six - lost hours of my life and been dragged from a warm telly
Number seven - had delusions of grandeur
Number eight - realised what's possible and what's not
Number nine- discovered therapy for middle-aged angst
Number ten - discovered that I don't know everything

Clearly Labour activist or supporters don’t like home truths about what their party has done to this countries economy or society but indulging in cheap slurs hardly helps.

Still at the end of the day this blog is all about me, as is the case with any commentator. Still I’m proud to be considered a bigot by Labours followers it means I’m still capable of honest fair independent thought and for balance I’m sure Tories see me as a jumped up oaf.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rant for the day - Will the governments budget go far enough and rebalance our society.

This is just some quick random thoughts on all the excitement about the “emergency” budget about to be announced. Its my view the public sector have been well looked after, obviously a few of those at the bottom of the heap have been screwed just like the rest of us, but the majority have done all right and some like senior management have been helping themselves for too long with bogus bonuses, you wont have to look to far here in Kent.

I hope that not only, do those on reasonable incomes say 20 grand plus have zero pay increases but perhaps pay cuts as sensible way to handle Labours reckless handling of government finances, this hopefully would keep job losses to a minimum and could be scaled so that those at top of the heap who have plundered taxpayer funds for many years could make the greatest contribution (again look around Kent).

Firstly I’ve heard plenty from those speaking on behalf of public sector employees and why they shouldn’t see any changes in their incomes and I would just point out that during the last few years, those of us outside the cosy world of the public sector have been forced in many cases to adjust to poorer pay rates and less or no job security.

The last few years, the country has been increasingly divided into have and have nots, large swathes of the productive workforce have been caned, by a Labour Government which didn’t give a toss or attempt to connect with working people, yes the people’s party knew how to show superficial concern tossing the odd bone like the minimum wage & tax credits to us ordinary people or “bigots” as the Labour hierarchy like to refer but since the likes of Blair Brown and your Millibands’ were doing alright they didn’t like to look to deeply at the fundamental change to ordinary working peoples.

Labour had thirteen years doing nothing to protect the lowest paid and if some cretins in the Labour party quote the minimum wage they might like to explain why its set at such a poor level, resulting in taxpayers effectively subsidising business, a prime example being the agricultural industry ruthlessly exploiting staff this has been aided by Labours endorsing and encouraging big businesses ruthless exploitation of east Europeans such as the construction industry which have exchange skilled staff for cheap.

I’m sorry for anyone who works hard in the public sector and feels under attack but lets face it, I’ve not heard one peep out of the public sector union leadership to complain about construction workers and similar having seen their incomes halved and more in the last few years.

Of course by the time you read this it will all be over!

The big event postscript

Despite the weather not being the best for Margate's Big event, organisers claim around 30,000 visitors which I feel shows the broad appeal of aeroplanes for anoraks, fun fair grounds for teens, and music for everyone.

Although my stay wasn’t the longest, I didn’t begrudge one penny of the two pound admission fee, although the “something for nothing” culture is as strong as every here in Thanet, where even this minimalist charge has to be criticised.

Wasn’t happy about the “shake down” of visitors at the entrance, as last year the event was free, searching bags I assume was for contraband, a bit of a liberty, I think the council had asked people not to bring alcohol, no doubt to increase sales at the beer tent, don’t know whether they were also looking for illegal hamburgers, and donuts.

I missed the Red Arrows display (Mrs Me, glued to the world Cup “I’m not going out in this weather”), but saw enough not to feel cheated, I’ve put up some more photos available here, the highlight for me was the sight of the Battle of Britain memorial flight’s Lancaster, and as I watched this plane, I always think of the guts, it must have taken for the crews to have flown these planes.

Not sure who the jazz group were, something? cats,on about 3 or 4 on Saturday but much enjoyed their performance, very good, despite the rain and a dislike of er jazz.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kent explains big bonus but are things any clearer?

KM's Kent online website has a story which quotes a statement from Kent council which I assume seeks to explain the highly controvershall payment to ex-employee Adam Wilkinson who resigned on personal grounds from the council. An astonishing sum of £365,000 was paid out after just 12 months service.

Having read the article I find myself with no clearer idea of why KCC handed over so much money.

Below are some extracts taken from Paul Francis's article of Cllr Roger Gough, KCC cabinet member for corporate services, statement "We fully understand how people feel about large payments and we feel the same way.

"Kent County Council does not enter into contracts to pay people large sums of money when they leave.

"This happened two years ago and has no impact on decisions we are making now. We are unable to say more because of the contractual agreement made with Mr Wilkinson. The problem we face is that employment laws are onerous and need to be reformed. We will lobby the Government for a change of the law."

My view if KCC don't enter in to contracts to pay employees big sums what's this all about also just onerous law forces KCC to make fat payments and bonuses like that for example given to Peter Gilroy another two hundred grand.

Finally until Kent council can give a credible reason for this payment, many of us will continue to call for Paul Carter Conservative leader to reasign.

For the full story paste the link below into your browser(I'm using my mobile to blog )

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Big Event busy as ever

Here's a picture taken earlier and some more

Ramsgate Trivia – The Ramsgate Society

Just strolling around Ramsgate yesterday noted a fading sign above a hairdressers for some long forgotten brand of beer “Allbright Pale Ale” no doubt from a time when it wasn’t thought normal to get drunk, guzzling copious amounts of foreign lager in order to support the national football team.

Anyhow the thought struck me, that had, the likes of today’s Ramsgate Society been stalking the streets when this sign had been painted, upholding their views on good taste I’d not have been pondering on our past, because it would been most likely erased long ago.ramsgate hairdresser posterThe recent hoo-hah over a tasteful poster advertising a hairdressers, in which Ramsgate cultural vigilantes have intervened is pitiful, admittedly the poster would have detracted from the view of the Texaco garage and Queens house, and distracted one from the Quikfit but we’d have learned to live with it.ramsgate rd

Mr Jocelyn McCarthy, of the Ramsgate Society, was reported by the BBC as referring to residents who had complained that it was distasteful to show "so much cleavage on a public building" *most of us would have not have even noticed it and if we had, probably not given it much thought.

I imagine the poster would have only be a temporary feature of the landscape, like other business signage including the one I mentioned at the start which is gradually fading.

*Reference BBC report

*Please note that this posting has been edited to correct a misquote of Mr McCarthy, apologies for any misunderstanding and thank you to “Readit” for pointing it out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

BIG EVENT Tomorrow

Obviously there is a lot of interest in Margate’s Big Event, so for those who have googled themselves on to these pages I have compiled some photos of past events so you can get an idea of the flavour of the event Click Here.

Also you can find full details from the official site if you click here.

I have to say that this event has pretty much something for everyone, also a lot of credit has to go to those who help put the event together, I happened to nip down to the Palm Bay site this afternoon, where I met Cllr. Roger Latchford who was helping set up the event.

The cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, was keen to point out the efforts and hard work of council officers, in setting up the show.


Time for Kent Council Leader Paul Carter to resign?

I thinks so and for those of you unaware, take a gander at the Daily Mail Story, yet another shocking example of a Kent Council officer, apparently being paid an outrageous bonus although this time its not for doing his job its worse than that.

In a nutshell Adam Wilkinson was employed by KCC as director of environment and regeneration, on £70,000PA which for the important sounding job title is not unreasonable, now here is the controversial part after 12 months he decided the job was not for him, unlike you and I, Kent Council paid out a fat bonus of £365,000.00 which works out a grand a day. What for, KCC wont say?

Never forget this is your money, and we elect councilors to guide, govern and scrutinise the running of our local government, to provide services, at the top of the heap is Conservative Leader Paul Carter, who surely must be aware one hopes of such arrangements.

Assuming that is the case, ask yourself this is Paul Carter the right person to lead the council, presumably at some point someone in Kent councils cabinet must have endorsed this payment?

Its my view that there is a culture shared with officers and conservative councilors that they are in some fantasy commercial organisation run for the benefit of senior officer and a weird idea that such officers should get bonuses for doing their job. Its your money being wasted which should be spent on services.


The Prime Minister David Cameron has in my mind, given a lead, on what is expected in the public sector, Paul Carter’s administration has given us enough examples of waste and reckless spending. If I was the Prime Minister I’d be putting pressure on Kent Tories to get their act together and persuade Cllr Carter to resign now.

PS There was a time when we referred to public servants, I’m not sure of an apt name for Kent Councils senior officers! suggestions welcome

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thanet Council Cabinet Agenda – Item 15 it can’t be that important surely

I see that at tonight’s Thanet council cabinet meeting, the public and press are to be excluded from discussion of agenda item 15 East Kent Joint Waste which is to be chewed over by councilors only after the doors locked and the room swept for bugging devices.

Don’t worry, it can't be that important or otherwise council officers would issued a press release, with informative quotes from chief executive, Richard Samuel, as was the case last week. Click Here


Surely in the old days important business would have been sorted out at the lodge?

Details of the meeting  click here

Last call for arts gravy train – destination Margate (Turner Contemporary)

You have just till tomorrow to apply for three new "officer posts" these are for marketing and visitor roles up at the Turner Contemporary.

last call for turner

Maybe a last chance to get a seat on the arts gravy train, I'm sure those already in the public sector's more er non-essential outposts are beginning grasp the depth of the recession, credit crunch, actually I'm not sure there is a term these days for the black hole in the economy, its been so long, anyhow it might be long time before such an opportunity is available again.

Not sure what it means but Turner Contemporary are committed to a diverse workforce, which in a way is reassuring since I often suspect, that many in these arty type jobs, are taken by humans cloned in a secret government facility to produce, uniformly unimaginative zombies that spark into life only at the sight of some unintelligible random pattern on canvass or perhaps a collection of scrap metal and proceed to talk equally meaningless tripe.

I just hope they look at local people, since so far it looks to me as if Turner prefers to involve people with little or no connection to the area, indeed this comment from John Kampfner chairman of the trustees is rather illuminating " I remember getting a call back in April 2008 asking if I wanted to apply for the job as chair of trustees".

No doubt telephones were ringing all over Thanet at the same time, still if you live in Margate or Thanet, and had a similar call, maybe you could add to our greater understanding and comment on this post.

PS as far as I can tell, only one of the trustees has a Margate connection (again if I'm wrong please comment)

Liz - Seems I’m not on the list – again

Well its always going to be a long shot but it seems that once again I’m not on the queens Birthday Honours list (yes I know its a day or to late, maybe that’s the reason, the card I sent was late again).

Still I suppose it will be a year or two before the queen starts dishing out gongs for services to er blogging, never mind its good to see that a true account of this country demographics has been taken and not just the public sector workers been represented by a good sprinkling of us ordinary folk like plumbers, call centre workers, taxi drivers, salesmen, corner shop owners, gardeners,electricians, bricklayers, printers, bank managers, agency workers, bar staff

I’ve no doubt that those awarded honours have earned them and well done but it seems to me that the Honours system does not reward the larger community outside the public sector. Of the twenty gongs dished out here in Kent it appears that 12 are to those who have been employed in the public sector.

I’m not trying to knock those who’ve been awarded merely pointing out that in many respects this country still relies on its feudal past and patronage which doesn’t, like the monarchy, fit comfortably with a modern democratic equal society.

Anyhow I stumbled on this list while visiting KCC website, in Kent the winners are:

Order of the British Empire

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Dr Stephen DEUCHAR (Westwell) Lately Director Tate Britain For Services to Art

Dr Marshall ELLIOTT (Broadstairs) For Public Service

Mrs Helen TAIT (Hythe)Headteacher, Sandgate Primary School For Services to Education in Kent

Order of the British Empire

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Mr Colin DAWSON (Canterbury) Chief Executive, British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions LtdFor Services to the Tourist Industry

Mr Michael FARRELL (Hempstead) For Services to the Church of England

Dr Robin HILEY (Sevenoaks)For Services to the Ministry of Defence

Mr Jonathan JEFFERIS (Sevenoaks)For Services to the Ministry of Defence

Mr George JENKINS (Canterbury)Vice Chairman, NHS Blood and Transplant and Chairman, South London Healthcare NHS Trust For Services to Healthcare

Order of the British Empire

Members of the Order of the British Empire

Mr Alan BERNSTEIN (Tunbridge Wells) For Services to Young People in Kent

Mrs Margaret GREENWAY (Canterbury) Lately Commission Services Resource Manager for Kent Probation For Services to Offenders

Mrs Jane HIGGS (Edenbridge) For Services to the Heritage of Eden Valley

Councillor Palma LAUGHTON (Ashford) Chairman, Stanhope Parish Council For Services to the Community in Stanhope, Ashford

Mr Paul MARSH (Canterbury) Lately Principal Officer, HM Prison Canterbury For Services to HM Prison Service

Mrs Catherine MARSHALL (Ashford) Assistant Headteacher, Wyvern School, Ashford For Services to Special Needs Education

Mrs Jacqueline McKENNA (Aylesford) Director of Nursing and Strategic Planning, Medway NHS Foundation TrustFor Services to Healthcare

Miss Pamela MORRIS (Chatham) Secretary, Minerva Sports and Social Association Department for Business Innovation and Skills

Mrs Marjorie SEAL (Dartford) For Voluntary Services to Girlguiding in Kent

Mrs Maureen SMITH (Whitstable) For Services to the Community in Whitstable

Mr Michael STEVENS (Maidstone) Chairman of Governors, Oakwood Park Grammar School For Voluntary Service to Education

Mrs Hazel WATERS (Rainham) Workforce Information Assistant, Medway NHS Foundation Trust For Services to the NHS

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bob Geldof to get honorary degree

The University of Creative Arts, no I’d not heard of it either, it’s the university that specialises in creativity and straddles Kent and Surrey and is to award an honorary degree to local hero Bob Geldof.

According to the BBC’s report on the matter Dianne Taylor, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the university, has said: "As a broadcaster and musician, Bob Geldof's contribution to the creative arts has been substantial.

"He will be an inspiration to our graduating students."

She added: "As a Kent resident he has been tireless in promoting education in the local area, opening schools and supporting local campaigns."

Still I can vouch for the creativity of Bob Geldof’s colleagues in his media business Ten Alps, when they wrote to me complaining about my opinions on the Taxpayer funded Kent TV, a Kent Council project which they happened to be contracted to produce. No surprise that I found it a bit offensive & ironic, to have a contractor company working on behalf KCC, funded by taxpayers like you and I, advising me what I could or couldn’t say.

I myself would like to dish out a few honorary degrees from the University of Life, to those local bloggers and others who supported me most notably Eastcliff Richard in my quest to get Kent Council to accept my right to free speech, the matter eloquently reported by Eastcliff Richard at the time.

Well there is no doubt that Bob is deserving of honours for humanitarian relief and business acumen, I’m no expert but I’ll reserve judgement on his media career, no doubt this personal triumph will take his mind off this story from the Guardian “Ten Alps shares hit after revenue falls”

Still I have to say that Bob Geldof or rather his business has inspired me to keep this blog, and not allow myself to be influenced by big interests and even better Bignews Margate has at the very least outlived Kent TV without a penny from the taxpayer.

Lets hope that hope that our experience in Kent will stop other local authorities wasting another penny on similar projects which in my view will as was the case with Kent TV unsustainable.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New purpose helps rescue Margate gem

Northdown Park has in recent times been subject to much neglect, due in part to Thanet council’s management exemplified by the asset fiasco, in which council failed to take account of covenants as they tried to make a fast buck.

Still hopefully with a change of leadership in the local Conservative party things might improve, anyhow for the last year or so I’ve spent most of my time working in North London, since that project is coming to an end, I’ve got now got time to catch up on things like taking a stroll.

This afternoon I walked to Northdown Park and was pleased to see that the walled garden in the park has now been taken over to provide a safe playground for children with disabilities. sign outside garden

The walled garden despite having been revamped I reckon about 15 years ago had in recent times become overgrown, so its brilliant that this is once again being put to good use.

I hope that this is a success, maybe it’s a disappointment that it won’t be available to the wider community but brilliant that it will benefit young kids.

the secret garden

Just a quick postscript, I've been told that work is ongoing and that the garden will be open to children sometime next month, those who now run it, will, I'm told open the garden to the wider community from time to time.


Obviously this is a big weekend for Margate with the Big Event taking place, since I’m getting a lot of referrals from search engines looking for info on the event I thought it would be handy, rather than waffle to put up some pics from previous years. So Click here

Also for the anoraks 10 seconds of Eurofighter

Monday, June 14, 2010

BBC Radio Kent - Danger Listeners at work – “ring up if you think your tough enough!”*

I rarely listen to BBC Radio Kent and this has nothing to do with the professionalism of the presenters, just the content which seems so trivial, that it could be broadcast anywhere in the world.

Monday morning, since David Cameron had made an issue of Health & Safety, BBC Radio Kent, no surprise devoted the last hour of its Breakfast programme to what I felt was on balance a trivial approach to the issue.

I don’t doubt there is some lunacy attached to some interpretations of Health and Safety but in construction about 50 workers and in agriculture around 25 workers are fatally injured at work each year.

I sent an email contribution as I hadn’t myself heard any reference to the serious side of the issue you can hear the outcome here.

At the end of the day, much of Health and Safety is commonsense, still a clichéd treatment doesn’t help encourage workplace safety.

Just for the record I did ring into the show, so thanks for the offer Mr Warnett*, maybe you could answer if your tough enough.

Thoughts from the weekend- “official England blog” ? Come on sponsors

Its not difficult to notice, in any supermarket, that we are in the grips of the World Cup campaign, the tell tale signs have been there for the last couple of weeks, massive stacks of beer in supermarket entrances, almost exclusively non-English, then there are the flags despite all the “come on England” malarkey its probable that they are produced in some sweatshop halfway round the globe.

Wandering into the “Official Supermarket” late on Saturday afternoon I was pleased that fortunately many were already doing their bit for England by guzzling copious amounts of Guinness, Carlsberg, Stella thus leaving the car park relatively empty.

Still the thought occurred, who has the power to make something the official England anything and I concluded, it’s likely the Football Association might well be the only organisation with that sort of authority, since England has no democratic national government. notinthishouesapparently

Good luck to England’s multi-millionaire footballers, I shall do my bit to pay homage, and will think of them next time I crack open a can of Fosters and I shall pretend to be interested next time Mrs Me (Chelsea season tkt holder) forces me to watch football, already I have learnt that “Heskey is ******* useless” unfortunately other insights sadly have been located in my brains recycle bin.

I shall reserve the right at some point to become the self appointed “official English Blog” as I believe this blog probably qualifies being produced on a computer manufactured in China, written using American software, and hosted on Google’s Blogger.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thought for the day - Kent Education Class Discrimination From West to East

Many would agree with me that Kent’s education is a divisive mishmash of privilege and discrimination which is not just about the flawed grammar system.

It’s long been known that in West Kent, grammar schools actively discriminate against the interest of local children who have passed the Kent Test and instead, favouring kids from affluent families across South London.

Last week the “Thanet Heads Group” were suggesting that foster kids are no longer welcome in Thanet’s schools, apparently, so upset they penned a letter to KCC referring to “considerable problems” and suggesting “enough is enough”.

According to an article in last weeks Gazette, Thanet heads do not appear to have been specific or articulated enough to give any compelling (in my opinion) reasons for wishing to deter vulnerable youngsters other than a bland “pressure on services”

Not all Head’s take the same view, to his credit Ian Johnson principal of The Marlowe Academy, was generous and fair with this comment "I don't support my fellow head teachers because these students deserve our support and they are here.

Yes of coarse it’s regrettable that children have to be fostered, it may also be wrong for them to wash up in our part of Kent, however its a issue that is unlikely to change.

Thanet is a tough place to live, local Head Teachers ought to accept the area for what it is, this area is deprived and fostering has become a job for some, which doesn’t imply in my mind that kids are better or worse off in Thanet.

Perhaps if Thanet’s heads are so against teaching vulnerable kids they could get themselves a job in the west of the county, where certain schools quite openly discriminate against the local population and all KCC does is take resources from the east of the county.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thanet Labour boss issues statement over Chief Executive premature press release

Nothing surprises me any more where the goings on of Thanet council are concerned. I mentioned earlier this week the meeting of TDC’s general purposes committee, which was held in secret.

Its all relatively simple but here in a nutshell is my summary, Donna Reed was after consideration by Chief Exec’s and Council Leaders from Dover, Canterbury and Thanet chosen to be the new Shared Services Director. This then had to be confirmed by elected members of our council after hearing a report to the General Purposes Committee.

For whatever reason, officers advised or insisted that this meeting, be held in secret, although most of the details including approximate salary level had been placed in the public domain.

TDC’s Richard Samuel last week apparently quoted from the report, according to Clive Hart, Thanet’s Labour Leader, in a press release and then argued at the General Purposes meeting details should be kept from the public.

Reading Clive Harts statement its difficult not conclude that dual standards seem to operate at Thanet Council, I sometimes get the impression that the council is run for the convenience of senior officers and the conservative group.

If you feel that’s an exaggeration ask yourself why conservatives councillors and I assume officers have spent large sums of your money drawing up blogging protocols, these people must think we’re all stupid.

Anyhow Clive’s Statement follows (this was lifted from the comments of a earlier posting on the secret meeting):

From Cllr Clive Hart.
Please find below a statement I have made following the Tuesday 8th June General Purposes Committee meeting at TDC.
I want to make it absolutely clear that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THE STATEMENT refers to the individual appointed as the Shared Services Director whom I know to be an excellent public servant.
All my comments refer to process:
Early Wednesday morning (9th June) I wrote to the Thanet District Council Chief Executive Richard Samuel to FORMALLY COMPLAIN about the press release 'SHARED SERVICES DIRECTOR APPOINTED' published by Thanet District Council on Thursday, 03 June 2010 and the organisation of the General Purposes Committee held on Tuesday, 08 June 2010.

Firstly, the press release announcing who was appointed was published a week before the meeting, yet I understand that the Council's Employment Procedure Rules require Director level appointments to be made at member level and that was the whole purpose of Tuesday's GPC meeting.
I also found it somewhat hypocritical for the Chief Executive to selectively quote matters from the report to the GPC in a premature press release and then to attend the GPC meeting proper to argue that councillors should discuss the whole matter on confidential 'pink paper' in closed session and also exclude the press and the public.

In that quote in the premature press release it was also stated that 'the selection process was extremely tough' when in actual fact the job was only advertised internally within the three East Kent authorities with no external competition whatsoever.

Also, in the quote in the premature press release it said the three council leaders unanimously supported the appointment. The three leaders are all Conservative so there was no political balance whatsoever in that decision.
The GPC meeting was arranged for 5pm in the afternoon. That may be a very nice and convenient ending to the working day for council officers but it proves very difficult for many councillors to attend. My group members had to make significant changes to busy working day schedules and I even had to stand in for a member whose work commitments simply did not allow her to attend at such a time.

In short I would say that the 'man in in the street' would consider this whole matter as a previously 'done deal', rubber stamped behind closed doors, arranged for the benefit and comfort of high-level public sector employees only and supported by one political party only - the Conservative's.

Probably worse still, the appointment will be made at a remuneration level 'artificially' raised through the shared services process in East Kent.

This whole fiasco takes place in the week the Conservative Prime Minister tells us public sector workers have been 'insulated' from the harsh realities of the recession while everyone else was paying the price and that they had got 'way out of step' and needed to be brought back into line with the private sector.

In local government in East Kent it appears there is one rule for the workers and another for senior management".
Cllr Clive Hart.

Where to make cuts No.1 & No2

David Cameron and the coalition are asking for input as to where cuts can be made in public spending, well suggestion number one, comes not surprisingly (for me) courtesy HM Revenue & Customs.

In what has become a twice yearly waste of money, I and I suspect many thousands receive a letter from a cretinous HM Revenue and Customs pointing out an award of £0.00 of tax credits.

Now despite HM Customs being informed some long years ago that we were no longer eligible, they have needlessly sent a determination (with big fat form) followed by an annual review (another fat form) every year for, I’m guessing about seven years.

Now it seems trivial and it is but surely in seven years or whatever these idiots at HM Revenue could stop wasting money. I’ve made numerous attempts to make contact with intelligent life but each time the 15 minutes waiting on a useless “helpline” has never succeeded in stopping this waste.

So money saving cut No1 is don’t keep chopping down trees and sending out bull***t letters and leaflets, money saving cut No.2 is if HM Revenue cannot sort out this trivial waste, then retire the Chief Executive, Lesley Strathie and get another one, crikey who would notice.

I have mentioned this in the past and probably will again in the future.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Thanet Council meet in Secret to discuss done deal for Shared Services Director

For reasons best known to the likes of Richard Samuel Thanet Council’s Chief Executive, the public and press will be excluded today from a General Purposes committee meeting that will apparently discuss the appointment of Donna Reed as Shared Services Director.

Despite the fact that a press release was sent out earlier 5 days ago on June 3rd, even quoting Mr Samuel, and pointing out that Leaders and Chief Execs from Thanet, Dover and Canterbury councils have already chosen “unanimously”, Donna Reed to be the Shared Services Director, why the secrecy?

Since it appears to be a done deal, what are councillors likely to know or discuss that cannot be in the public domain, surely it cannot be the wages offered to Donna Reed as these have already been advertised at a modest £90,000 - £100,000.

top secret

So what’s the big secret, well, Item 4 claims the following reasons excluding the press and public:-

“Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under the authority.”

“Condition: Information is exempt to the extent that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

Now I might be missing something here but the salary has been advertised, local councils have already publicised the deal, so unless they haven’t agreed already the actual salary there is no need for secrecy?

Unless of coarse some councillors have sufficient backbone to ask why we need to create this post and pay so much money particularly in the middle of the countries greatest financial crisis since most of us can remember.

Why is that local authorities, always have to pay out extra money to save money, we’re told and I’ll believe it when I see it, that 3.5 million will be saved by three councils over the next four years. Yeah righteo,

Just remember that last year Thanet’s Conservatives gave away a fat 15% increases to Thanet’s top bods just as the recession was biting, one councillor told me if they hadn’t, they would have been head hunted, presumably by equally gullible councillors from elsewhere.

I suppose in days gone by, this sort of thing would have been sorted out, down the lodge, still if they are trying to save money surely they could do without the meeting?

Margate on the up

I had chance to wander around Margate seafront, Saturday and without an big attraction this last weekend, it seemed busy in way it wasn’t a year or two back.

A regular reader sent me this clipping from the Times, apparently Margate has recently been listed as one of the nations top 40 beaches

“Margate Kent

The childhood home of Tracey Emin is turning trendy. Earlier this month Emin unveiled a work in neon lights saying “I never stopped loving you” at Droit House on the town’s seafront. There are lots of quirky cafés, retro clothing shops and old furniture shops — and a bit of a buzz about the town, which has a 200m sandy beach. There’s a new boutique B&B (, with rooms that manage to combine the ornate with the minimalist. The Turner Contemporary Gallery (the artist painted many seascapes here) is due to open here next summer — with works by modern artists including

Times article click here

Anyhow I noticed a gallery in the old town I’d not seen before and was pleased that the Harbour Arm was busy, not only with the one day exhibition of Tim Spencer photographs but various other bits and pieces like the cafe, bar, bike hire place and ice cream vendor selling particularly gorgeous ice creams, I had raspberry and double cream I think very good.

Slowly but surely Margate coming back to life, although it was late in the afternoon when I went walking it was pleasing to see beach full of Times readers.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Something for the weekend – Culture & Art

I often forget to post stuff, which I get sent to me, I always think later well this is later not Sunday when I think Damn!

So for your enlightenment a couple of items worth your attention!

STARTING THIS WEEKEND (Friday as it happens but till 27th June) At the Margate Gallery

this is dreamland

“This is a Dreamland is an exhibition that consists of photographic prints, collage and mixed media. All of the works in the show explore Margate as a town where vibrancy, colour and inspiration is found everywhere. The work on show is a response to the sensory delights found in Margate’s vibrant arcades and seafront stores: the flashing lights, electric colours, fluffy, pink, candyfloss and florescent inflatables. The work on display seeks to celebrate living in a place that has electric blue skies and glistening golden sand, rather than a place of greyness and gloom. The works on show explore a love of a town where life, colour and atmosphere collide to make it a Dreamland for the senses.”

Katie Welsford 2010

*****ALSO FOR ONE DAY ONLY ***** (Harbour Arm)


Digital photographer, Tim Spencer, is showing a collection of recently worked images in a new exhibition entitled 'about MARGATE' - a series of pictorial representations based on observations made during the three years since he moved from London to Cliftonville.

This is a new perspective showing diverse elements of the beautiful area around Thanet. With a fresh vision, Tim has framed captured moments in that ever-changing relationship between the seemingly permanent and the ostensibly transient.

Tim was born in 1956 and moved from Sussex to London in 1975. Upon completing university and, after 2 years in video production, he joined a local newspaper group and then went on to work as a free-lance
photographer for more than 20 years.

Amongst the professional commissions he accepted, Tim took photographs of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Rock legend Mick Jagger and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

"The advent of digital photography and computer-based processing couldn't have come soon enough for me!" says Tim. "The efficiency, the capabilities and the working environment, when released from the dark-room, are fantastic."

Margate’s Big Event no free lunch

The last couple of years Margate’s Big Event has been free, subsidised by business and car parking fees and taxpayers.

Living as I do within 10 minutes walk of the cliff top venue for me its been a pretty good deal, but as we are now coming to realise, stuff cost even when supplied by the local council.

I don’t doubt many will be disappointed at the thought of actually having to pay for entertainment, probably the same people who baulk at the idea of having to work for a living but tough.

I understand that the entrance fee is a token £2, even the average family will only have to find a tenner, not bad for an air display, side shows, good music, fireworks and the chance to by a ham burger and warm beer, at I suspect a bit more, than the two quid entrance fee.

My regret is that this event could not be pitched in the heart of Margate around the Harbour Arm so that local business could benefit rather than burger vans from up norff.

More Details click here

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Shock Horror as “4 Star” Kent Council in 5 day Cock-up - retiring Chief Exec had to hang on while interim post filled

Crikey like me, you’ve probably read all those publications from KCC droning on about how flippin marvellous they are, how about this one I just tripped over.

It has been no secret that the  “Great” former Chief Executive Peter Gilroy would be retiring this last May, it was in the public domain back in September as this report from Paul Francis, broke the news to a tearful public.

I must admit, myself I bitterly regret, not accepting the offer of meeting with Mr Gilroy to discuss KCC’s use of digital media particularly as it impacted my freedom of speech.

Anyhow it seems that due to some oversight, despite all that notice and Kent being an “excellent authority”, it was necessary for Mr Gilroy to extend his service, so that Kent County Council would not be without a senior officer, apparently its a legal requirement, any how its all sorted now.

David Cockburn was appointed as interim Chief Executive until Katherine Kerswell takes over, who will apparently be known as Group Managing Director, why the change in the title, its not been explained, probably has something to do with the rather odd idea that civil servants and local authority bods like to pretend there running commercial enterprises rather than administering serivice, its how I guess some justify lavish salaries and fat bonuses.

Take a gander this brief report click here

getatempin Ps not sure whether the extra 5 days resulted in any additional bonuses I think we should be told.

Kent Council’s new conservation programme

I like to think of Kent’s Conservatives, as being a sort of rare breed, outside the mainstream of political life, indeed I believe that Paul Carter (Kent Councils Tory Leader) was one of the few hiccups apart from Nick Clegg in David Cameron’s recent election campaign.

Anyhow its seems that politicians at national level in the Coalition, Tory and Libs are pretty much on message as far as sorting out a bloated public sector.

However Kent’s Conservative County Councillors appear to be bucking the trend, suggest you take a gander at this from Paul Francis “Storm brews after council advertises jobs worth £70K – while staff face redundancy”.

Basically while 260 jobs in the children services department are about to go down Swanee, KCC led by Kent Tories are making up creating jobs and are seeking 12 “district heads of primary standard and school improvement” at around 70 grand a year, why?

All I can assume is that Kent Tories who themselves, strike me, as caricatures from a bygone age, with plumy voices, aloof manner, use to delegating tasks to the servants or rather “officers”, so my theory is this, as they themselves might well feel threatened, they empathise with useless Fat Cat bureaucrats, hoping to protect them, so that future generations of hard working taxpayers will be able to see Fat Cats in their natural environment, the local authority.

Imagine a world without pompous over-promoted bureaucrats, who would write long winded incomprehensible documents, never to be read, arrange or attending insanely boring and pointless meetings, not answer the phone, never clear clogged up voicemail boxes, and forget to change the out of office message on the email something like “at some ridiculously expensive conference having my ego massaged - please P Off”

Well done, KCC for creating a safe environment for Fat Cats to exist, one day I’m sure we will all thank you for having the courage to decimate your children's’ services department to conserve an endangered species.

In away it’s reassuring that Kent Council is immune from recession and austerity.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Train spotters, me and Rod Stewart

As some of you know, I work on the railway as a track man (somebody who maintains the track) , from time to time I have been accused of having an unhealthy interest in trains, by work mates, not true although sometimes I've been know to, whip out my camera phone, if some unusual train rolls past, and yes when I first started working on the railway, I did once, purchase a copy of a railway magazine but believe me, it never went any further.

Anyhow it always amazes me, how otherwise normal blokes, will stand on the platform or bridges eyes fixed at some distant point for hours, a work mate, told me, how am enthusiast in the pub, had been able to name the items carried by a Lookout (the person who warns a work group of an approaching train, so they can move to safety), although I know this stuff, I generally have to think when being assessed, still interestingly the enthusiast apparently didn't also mention that the Lookout also carried, bottles of drink, food, maybe an "emergency pork pie", jumpers and the paperwork for the workgroup, since he's (the lookout) not got a shovel in his hand or a kango on his back.

Right enough of that, an explanation, Google randomly throw up a
story from the Sun about Rod Stewart, whom I've assumed is, as well balanced as any world class star still surprisingly he happens to be a model train enthusiast, seems he insists on having a room made available for his model train set at Hotels, an aspect of the rock roll lifestyle to which I was unfamiliar.

Anyhow my obsession is blogging whilst listening to music, here's some music you'll need to have spotify installed on your computer/device freely available here as either a paid for or free music service.

World Cup – Margate’s Lonnie Donegan Jnr. Revives World Cup Willie

I’ll keep this report straight and keep firmly to the facts, resisting the urge to use any double entendre, type jokes, anyway that’s probably already been done elsewhere.

Margate artist, Lonnie Donegan Jnr. has re-recorded his fathers song “World Cup Willie” which was a success as official song during the 1966, World Cup, when England football was last successful.

My own recollections of that particular victory are clear and notable for being the last football match I watched all the way through, although with Mrs Me being a Chelsea season ticket holder it’s difficult to avoid .

Apart from a rousing song, World Cup Willie was possibly the first sports event mascot, opening up the massive marketing opportunities, I myself spending pocket money on a souvenir replica ( as above ) some 44 years ago blimey!

Enjoy ! Available from all major download sites from 7 June 2010. Enjoy! For more email

* Above image clipped from Website Sixties City where you wallow in all sorts of sixties nostalgia