Friday, October 15, 2010

Local Democracy Week - Shame on local Editors- Council webcasts and Simon Moores

Believe it or not this post has been kicking around on my laptop, drifting around my brain and even resting in some safe depository in cyberspace for a week or so, each time I attempt to finish, I add and chop bits and pieces, anyhow this it the finished item, I see its Local Democracy week mentioned in Gazette, cheers for that snippet and a bit of poking around reveals this is an initiative from the Council of Europe in Strasburg and I'm thinking what democracy the more I observe the more I see a sham.

What sounds like good news for openness and democracy was the recent decision by Thanet Council to extend their webcast experiment to broadcast meetings, which is of course wonderful but a significant event has gone pretty much unreported by The Gazette, Thanet Extra, and Yourwotsit whose editors ought to report on major policy items within the council.

Recently you'll recall or not (if you only read the local papers)  how Thanet Council decided to exclude members of the public from a discussion which concerned the decision to transfer power to Richard Samuel the councils unelected chief executive, a spurious argument was put up that the discussion involved details of job losses likely to result from the formation East Kent Joint services ( 3 councils, combining pay, housing, ITC departments), clearly if you work for any of the councils involved Thanet, Canterbury or Dover you'd be well aware of likely outcome.

Handing over power to the chief executives, of three local councils (assuming councillors in Canterbury and Dover are as weak) is an astonishing betrayal of democracy and has been without public debate not least because the press can't be bothered and this is only my opinion because Conservative leader Bob Bayford is perhaps too embarrassed to explain to the public and Clive Hart, Labour too inept to seize on an issue of democratic accountability, preferring to argue against affordable housing still that's New Local Ed's Labour (the same as the others but deeper in denial).

I'm not sure what there is to observe now that the democratic leader of the council, will find Richard Samuel referring to him if he "is not satisfied" with occurrences with East Kent Joint services, rather than the other way round, a case of the tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.

Admittedly there is more to the local council meetings, than decision making, who can resist the wit and wisdom of councillors like Simon Moores, who dropping into, as I see it, familiar school boy mode, thought to include me ("my old friend"?)  by making a negative joke at my expense, suggesting as he proposed the  rather serious motion to exclude the public, that I "was trying or making himself invisible in the background". 

For someone who argued that Thanet council ought to have a blogging policy/charter for councillors, he ought to consider a TDC charter for councillors to act in a more mature manner, I suppose I could report him to the standards committee, if its not already been abolished, but its my contention if a councillor wants to behave like an idiot and be discourteous, it's a personal choice to be rectified at the ballot box.

Maybe Cllr Bayford could have a word, its no surprise to me that Simon Moores didn't think it necessary to apologise, or his superficial inclusion of me as a friend, being polite and friendly does not constitute friendship.

Finally its some measure how tenuous democracy is in these parts, as far as I can tell the shift from local democracy to East Kent Joint Services controlled by unelected council officers has yet to be reported by either BBC radio Kent, Kent on Sunday, Kent Messenger, and Northcliffe Media Thanet Times/Gazette shame on editors.

Still without a doubt someone will no doubt tell me I've got it wrong, I hope I have, but as there has been no public debate, what would I know.


  1. Tony I see nothing wrong in combining services the reason you are a contractor to BR is that it saves them employing you and saving cash in the process. I think you are barking at a bone that is gone. Next time you are going past drop in for a cuppa. Don

  2. The point is a large chunk of council services are being combined into a new entity, which will be directed by non elected council officers,

    Why have councillors if they hand over direction to staff.

  3. Tony, the combining of services under highly paid council officers is not a denial of democracy for these officers are still employed by and answerable to the council. The same scenario exists throughtout government ministries with the 'Sir Humphrey' characters really running the show because of their expertise. Ministers, like councillors, come and go.

    The test of democracy arises if the elected representatives do not adequately supervise and monitor to ensure that decisions taken by them are complied with throughout.

    Think you may be storming in a teacup on this one and I am sure that if there had been a real issue here Clive Hart and friends would have pounced on it.

    As for the Gazette, well it's idea of an even handed approach is to regularly publish letters from Mr. Muir of Westgate. Say no more, nudge, nudge, and all that!

  4. "If the Chief Executive is not so satisfied for those or any other reasons he shall expeditiously refer the business case for consideration to the Council's executive if it concerns an executive function or to the appropriate committee if it is a council function.

    If you read the above Don and Bluenote taken from the agenda item to which I was referring, its clear that the Cabinet have agreed to be subservient.

    The thought that the Chief Exec could be removed from office, is a fantasy, here in Thanet we've seen enough instances, which were they in the private sector, would have resulted in dismissal pass without comment hardly.

    Its clear the boot is on Mr Samuel's foot and not Cllr Bayford leader of a democratically elected council.

  5. There is NO democracy only a 'flavour of' it is all an elaborate illusion/fraud.

    Stop reading the snooze papers and read the real news

    The Cabbage Patch (Cameron) section is always well worth a read and the lastest edition hitting the streets (not yet on the web) exposes the whole rotten lot; coverups/fraud.

    It is time for the sheeple to awaken from their deep sleeple !

  6. May be the councillor's should look up the law on vicarious liability, you never know it might jolt them to their senses.

    Of course this would depend on good old fashioned common sense and the ability to know right from wrong in the first place, which would enable them not having the 'wool pulled' over their eyes.

  7. Sorry Tony I still dont see what the problem is, we live in a cost saving/cutting society and the big question here is why has it taken this long to come to a position where the councils have seen fit to stop squandering money. The other question is when will they stop the pensions.

  8. The point is decision making process is being handed over to council officers who are not linked to the democratic process

    Still don't worry Don if you don't get it you don't and pensions are a bigger worry thanghe erosion of local democracy

  9. The point, Tony, is the joint structure mirrors the democratic practice of the councils who are taking part. Officers will always run the details of services, with democratic accountability providing strategic direction. This is one route to better services and reduced increases in council tax bills. It is quite usual for officers to run services within a given framework, and this is no different.

  10. Shame on you Flaigy, for being rude about the local press.