Monday, February 28, 2011

Fuel protest evaporates – Hurrah !–for now

This morning instead of my normal Monday routine, I made a big mistake and rather than listen to Desert Island Discs podcast (Dame Anne Owers, who?) as I travelled to London, I thought I'd risk BBC Radio Kent which at six, piped up with the usual depressing sort of news, KCC can't fix roads but they can pay out huge sums to departing staff.

As is the way with BBC Radio Kent, its seems to be policy that BBC reporters are not required to adopt a quizzical approach on Kent council business, least not from a balanced political type way (in my opinion).

Still could the Monday morning commute, be any more depressing, well yes, news that a group of fuel protestors are threatening to screw up rush hour traffic from 08:00 onwards, fortunately my rush hour is generally not the same as the office bods, mine takes place between 05:00 and 07:00 only getting busy with a bit of argy bargy as I shoehorn my way into the Blackwell Tunnel approach, once through the tunnel its an easy drive to my destination, assuming Hackney council don't decide block the road with a blimin dust cart.

Maybe direct action is the way forward, however, I have bad memories, of the last time fuel vigilantes took direct action, Mrs Me, not noted for filling the Flaig Limo at the best of times, didn't think to top up the tank, by the time I quizzed her it was too late. My complacent attitude meant a week with no car, I would have paid a pound a litre, premium to fill the tank.

Anyhow the expected protest didn't happen today and only 5 cars turned up and despite BBC Radio Kent building up the expectation, South East England was not plunged into chaos and when I got to the tunnel approach it was as if someone had squirted WD40 down the northbound barrel of the Blackwall Tunnel only a brief hold up. At work with time to spare, and a leisurely chew on my bacon roll, washed down with the finest coffee in North London ;–) 

Still with all the unrest in the Middle East fuel prices will continue the inexorable climb, any day now, Gaddafi will be out on his earhole and the US and EU will help smooth the path of democracy and the supply of oil but don't get too comfortable.

Long term, many of us are guaranteed to be priced out of the fuel market for our vehicles and reliant on public transport, its an idea, we need to get used to, the demand for fuel will accelerate in the growing economies like China who manufacture the goods in our shops and India who answer our phone calls, unless of coarse we go back to manufacturing and doing our own admin.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kent Spending out of control as they make cuts

Kent council rarely inspires confidence in matters financial, particularly under Paul Carter's Tory administration.

Today's Kent on Sunday front page makes grim reading, it's been clear for many years that KCC has been over staffed and as inevitable cuts are being made, it's suggested by the taxpayers alliance that some redundancy payments will be overgenerous

No surprise really, unfortunately those in the private sector generally get just the legal minimum.

Perhaps KCC are expecting a windfall from Iceland, I wouldn't put Kent Tories in charge of the kitty for tea and biscuits let alone sliming down the counties fat cats.

Still what do I know and it's only money, ours! that's being given away.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick notes from meeting - council meeting 24/2/11




Finance department clapped as reward for their efforts hurrah!

Pfizer mentioned reference to government response and formation of task force p carter
We will see government upgrading of rail and parkway railstation,  Laura sandys mentioned
Labour interruption not happy with reference to government
Clive Hart  wants updates can't see how parkway, will help with travel time to Ramsgate, iris dragged in marks and sparks, Harrison anti parkway  went on about 5 to ten passengers, completely mis understands the concept of Parkway stations also the need for improving connectivity with London
Fifty-eight minutes Chris wells mentioned as travel time from London with an upgrade to line you need vision said Ezekiel (good performance)
Bayford rounded up with the importance of parkway a damn sight more positive than Clive Harts Dinosaur club

Chief exec boring in my opinion (its not him its the material he has to work with)

Move on to Budget

Clive Hart Lab leader mentioned Rushed budget, Bob Bayford tory leader mention Clive  never taken up offer to meet with him and discuss
Electioneering seemed to be claim from Labour bods, 
Might well be true

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE Ancient history bought up by iris Johnson shared services re tourism iris levelled serious allegations of Canterbury tourist wallahs hiding Margate brochures at Canterbury visitor centres 
More ancient history Thanet computer centre Harrison Lab
Burial bulk waste tennis courts Cllr Paul Lab even managed a big yawn about Tennis courts ( something he and his colleagues milked dry last time I went to a council meeting)

Simon Moores had to witter on about his specialist subject him and the interweb ( I have to leave shortly)

Joanna Gideon suggested Iris ought to move on instead of harking back to 95 or there abouts

Simon Moores speaks again goodnight Im outta here

These are rough notes and should not be treated as reliable night night

Someones got to get up b4 dawn


Rather him than me

Only in Thanet can democracy be thwarted by one security guard and a Building Services Assistant

The last three occasions I've attended public meetings at Thanet District council the doors to the council offices have been locked either preventing the public entering or leaving. Richard Samuel back in September gave every impression that he was on the case! (it made no difference on next visit)

Feeling that such incompetence ( in my opinion) is a little more than coincidence I thought I'd contact Richard Samuel Chief Exec to seek assurance that I could indeed visit a public meeting with what on passports used to say was "Without let or hindrance".

No surprise Mr Samuel was "in a meeting", helpful staff put me through to someone who describe himself as "Building services assistant", things didn't go well when I suggested that Mr Samuel was his boss, " no he wasn't " came the reply, innocently I asked what is his name, born in the 1950's my non political correct question met with it might be a women. (Eventually he did agree ultimately Mr Samuel was boss)

Taken aback that Mr Samuel was not the boss, I forgot the persons name, "I told you already", things deteriorated

I came back to the core question, can you guarantee that the door will be open? How can I? apparently it all depends on chance and toiletry requirements of the security guard.

I going to take a chance and hope that this time?


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If only I had something worth twittering

I'm filled with admiration, every time I take a gander at Cllr Clive Harts (local Labour leader) twitter stream, if only I had such an eventful life, certainly rarely anything as exciting as todays  "Morning in office - TDC budget. Also helped Salmestone councillors with their ward newsletter. Afternoon meeting with UNITE representatives." or yesterdays which included this phrase "Pulled myself together "

So hopefully coming soon to the world of micro blogging will be Cllr Clive Hart saying something like this on twitter " Having pulled self together, met Northwood councillors, apologised, resigned, went for a swim.

I'm not sure " My day - shower, WORK, read papers, thought a bit, HOME big cat poo mid-carpet cowpat? Crikey! MR PUSS! dinner blogged a bit, went to bed" would be as inspirational. That's why I generally use it just for notification purposes that I posted another long winded blog.

Still with twitter you can, sort of fill in the gaps, however the most intriguing thing with Clive's micro blog is what he doesn't touch on, like that "resignation" or indeed publishing something which refutes his comrades accusations?

Monday, February 21, 2011

BBC Reporting Kent Democracy or not? And Tory snouts in the trough

Being no stranger to obsessive or repetitious blogging  and all that entails, last Friday I emailed  Mick Rawsthorne (Regional Manager BBC SE) further following on from comments I made about BBC TV local coverage.

Tony flaig
to mick.rawsthorne

18 Feb (3 days ago)

Hi Mick
As a regional manager for the BBC can you tell me, why BBC coverage of local democracy is so poor across the county of Kent.

This morning listening to BBC Radio Kent, between six and seven, only a very minimal reference was made concerning KCC's budget meeting, since the programme in question is news based why no thorough report.

Kent councils budget, will directly effect every one who lives in the county, so why such mimimalistic coverage, what are the reasons, is it bias, lazyness or ignorance.

As a public service provider of broadcast media, I feel you have a duty to report the democratic process not hide as seems to be the case.

Although I spend much of my working life using a shovel I feel, I could do a better job than you and your colleagues.

Cheers tony Flaig

Unfortunately Mr Rawsthorne was unable to reply himself (some surprise) although he did delegate to a subordinate staff member, who confirmed that BBC South East, had sent a journalist to cover the Kent council Budget Meeting, however he claimed there was nothing new to report, well one item not  mentioned was the reaction of Tory leader Paul Carter and his Tory group, at the suggestion of Liberal Democrats, that councillors ought not in these tough times, to be getting free lunches paid for by you and I. An issue treated eloquently and entertainingly by Paul Francis of Kent Messenger Group.

Still if you need convincing that the BBC, when they cover politics in Kent do a proper job, the BBC exec, having informed me that BBC have "extensively" covered "cuts" in Medway and looked at KKC's (KCC surely) "challenges", added this "Indeed, Paul Carter is a regular on Breakfast - alongside his colleagues managing individual portfolios. Which of course,  just further troubles me, does this BBC bod, really believe Paul Carter and his colleagues, all Tories, are the soul representatives of political opinion in Kent.

Of course it might be that staff at BBC regional outposts such as BBC Radio Kent, are completely ignorant of local politics (as are consequentially, their audience) or maybe they don't give a toss, still the most likely reason is the BBC's obsessive pursuit of ratings.

The BBC is a publicly funded broadcaster, which in Kent, fails to offer balanced reporting, I note when I've mentioned this previously, Conservatives have suggested my claims of bias are fanciful, which they would with the one sided reporting they currently enjoy.

Still this is just my view and others are available.

If nothing else, you would have thought even most unimaginative, BBC bod might have spotted both the entertainment and news value of story concerning 70 odd tory councillors getting excited more about a free lunch than serving the public interest. Funny old world really.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boring Biased and Conservative? BBC in Kent

IS IT ME? Watching BBC's  South East tonight programme a brief mention was made of KCC's budget even a quick comment from Kent Conservative leader Paul Carter but as always it seems no view from any other political party, admittedly out of 84 councillors only 11 are not Tories but come on.

Whether by laziness, bias, stupidity, lack of interest or whatever the BBC which you and I fund with our money fails in my opinion to represent fairly political opinion.

From the poor coverage, given to this topic its my view BBC in the south east could not give a flying toss, for what is, an area of government which touches those things closest to us, our schools, our libraries, our social services, our environment, our roads and future.

I've mentioned BBC's local regional reportage, more than once I know its boring but the BBC has a duty to report and support the democratic process. Its a disgrace in my opinion, that they don't bother still if you work for the BBC maybe you could justify yourself.

Thank god for KM's Paul Francis (political editor)

Paul Francis Twitter Stream which detailed the Counties Budget debate as it happened


Fat Cats about to be pickled

The days of fat pay cheques for local authority Chiefs may well be over thanks to local government minister Eric Pickles.

In future councils will have to approve salaries over £100,000 with a vote by full council.

So hopefully no longer will councillors be having ludicrous conversations with taxpayers in which he or she claims, we have no choice, we have have to pay this sort of money as they try to justify some fat pay packet given to an officer with even less ability than themselves.

Even better perhaps we will see the end of mind boggling deals as was the case, in my opinion with a one year extension of Peter Gilroy's (chief exec KCC), contract which cost more than £400,000, for reasons which I think have yet to be explained to the public at large by Kent Tory boss Cllr Paul Carter.

Clearly Eric Pickles is one Conservative who understands that money spent in local government is that which belongs to the community at large. The sooner Kent Tories also learn this the better.

Story from Telegraph worth a gander

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Should Bill Bryson and CPRE* focus on the real problem

Yesterday a work mate mentioned to me Bill Bryson's (CPRE* Chairman) campaign to force Network Rail to clean up litter around their land. This is reported in detail in several papers as in the Mail here.

Basically he (Bryson) wants rubbish cleared up, it sounds not unreasonable and he says "This is not a complicated or controversial issue" .  Still assuming he gets his way and network rail clean up and every bit of track and stations are squeaky clean so as not to offend Mr Bryson the costs will be phenomenal  and what will it solve long term.

A particular point made here 'The first impression for a visitor arriving in a town is often formed by their view from a train carriage, and it is a disgrace that view is so often a degraded and dirty one that suggests a lack of care or pride in the area.' another member of CPRE added  "The track around Cambridge Station is littered with bottles and cans and plastic bags.

Simple, surely just tidy it up, and ignore the root cause, morons throwing their rubbish away with no idea of the consequences or cost of tidying up.

My thoughts are this, most days as part of my job, I walk through, work near or visit railway stations, they have tidy platforms and public areas more often are spotless rather than untidy.

Litter does accumulate on tracks in platforms and around stations but simple as it might seem, you cannot just walk out on to a rail track and start tidying up, trains don't just stop in the way road vehicles do, the conductor rail is Live and Dangerous at all times, so work in a platform area is prohibited most of the time.

I wont go all train spotter but before anyone can work anywhere on track, a safe system of work has to be set up and pre-planned due to the inherent dangers.

Obviously I'm at the lower end of the railway food chain, and don't get too specific, however as far as I'm aware on every job, I've ever been on, at the end, all the rubbish and scrap gets cleared, at the not unreasonable insistence of Network Rail.

As happy as I am to see jobs created on the railway, at the end of the day, its society that pays the bill so why doesn't Mr Bryson focus his campaign at those responsible the Big Society or even better write some more.

As my mate pointed out, much of the rubbish we see, comes over the fences of property backing onto the railway or fly tippers, as illustrated by the above photo of rubbish overflowing. Still presumably if Bill's campaign is successful, I wont complain KERCHING!.

* Campaign to Protect Rural England

A Quick Comment on Local Labour

I was going to give a long ponderous opinion on the de-selection of Cllr Mark Nottingham as a Labour candidate, however as I said last night Labour are digging a big hole, it seems to me to be a big ask, even from Clive Hart to suggest than Mark Nottingham has not been a hard working representative for Northwood also Cllr Clive Hart must explain why he has not followed through with his pledge to resign.

Also bewildered Labour party members must be asking what sort of strategy or thinking Clive Hart is following for the May council elections by dropping one of his teams stronger and more able members?

Still if you have any ideas?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I couldn't help notice the similarity between the Flaig family fat cat Mr Puss and Larry the new Downing Street Cat, admittedly Mr Puss once had drive and ambition, but an addiction to tuna and sleeping has ruined a once promising career.

Spot the Difference MR PUSS ON DUTY, ready for action at a moments noticeMr Puss on duty



Why Thanet Council wont clear the air on Fat Cat payoffs

As mentioned in an earlier posting Thanet council recently replied, to an enquiry from local film maker Christine Tongue, that figures quoted suggesting a big fat pay off for the current Chief Executive, in local blogs had been wildly inaccurate.

Assuming this was true, you would think, Thanet District councils PR department could simply give the facts, so why don't they?

Well life is not simple and as I understand from conversations I've had, its clear that, pensions costs will be "sorted", which as I understand will allow pensions to be paid early. Leading to additional cost, as I understand around in a hundred grand in one case. This of course all remains conjecture because of a veil of secrecy.

Of course for most being made redundant, from struggling employers or otherwise, the likely outcome is that you get the absolute minimum, however in this case, this is the public sector, this is your money, which is administered by politicians.

So in whose interest is it, not to be open, well those employed by the council and of course politicians, for agreeing in this case, Thanet's Conservative administration lead by Cllr Bob Bayford. Still Thanet is not alone in giving away other peoples money away, here is an example from the Taxpayers alliance website of which there are many.

I have every sympathy for those in frontline jobs, but lets be honest, senior local government officers ,not just in these parts but across the country taking redundancy or early retirement, will have done well over the years and of course in many cases will continue those little jobs on the boards of various quangos, health authorities etc.

This year it's the top bods, going from the council, but I'd imagine next year, it will be the workers going and you can bet things will not be so amicable for the lower ranks.

Tomorrow if I get the chance I'll be looking at a big hole being dug by Cllr Clive Hart and his mates which might just bury local Labour if someone doesn't take away their shovels.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plenty to say, just not the time and fox looks on as I forage for food

Hi plenty to say and not the time to say it, hopefully I shall update you,  tomorrow night just a quick note on council payoffs,  its clear, that there is more than Thanet Council would wish to place in the public domain and frankly the council suggestions of wildly inaccurate statements is almost as wildly inaccurate as Matt B over on Thanet Star. In the middle lies the truth. Keep up the good work Matt.
Also some thoughts on Labour Boss Clive and Labour bod Mark Nottingham, and what Clive needs to do, before Labour is reduced locally to a complete laughing stock.
Anyway this stuff doesn't construct itself and I need to earn a crust, so great ideas I have as drive into work, often have to go on the back boiler, for a couple of days, generally I jot a quick note on my smart phone using evernote which is then available on any other device, to be hammered into another post of middle age angst.
Still my top priority any morning is, getting breakfast, which generally consist of a cup of coffee and a bacon roll, this morning as walked the short trip to the cafe/bistro, I had the sensation of being stared at, looking up, a fox was giving me a critical stare, it moved as our eyes connected but guessing it was inquisitive, I casually sorted out the camera app on the phone, knowing that it would be looking down on me from the railway track above, hence the blurry photo at the top, taken a few seconds later, and hence damn  all of any consequence to blog about, till next time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


bob bayfordTHE PUBLIC SECTOR IS BANKRUPT! Its also worth reminding ourselves that the public sector is financed by taxpayers.

I mention this because both Conservative councillors including leader Cllr Bob Bayford  and council officers, need to be reminded just who pays the bills, as they seek to keep us in the dark about how and on what, they often fritter our money away.

I've had indications that officers at Thanet Council, have had, significant enhancements in redundancy payments or arrangements, Matt B of Thanet Star is suggesting that  the Chief Executive has been awarded £230,000.

Now I've heard bluster,  that this is a fiction, Christine Tongue a local film maker has been asking questions, and sent this

"TV Choice" <> 10/02/2011 11:10 >>>

Dear TDC representatives

I have read on this blog site - link below-  about the amounts Richard Samuel is receiving to leave TDC. Is someone able to confirm whether this blog article is correct or not, please? Are the payments and salaries in the public realm anywhere?

Best wishes
Christine Tongue

Cheryl Pendry Replied


I can confirm that the figures quoted in the Thanet Star article are wildly inaccurate. The facts in the article were not checked with the council prior to publication.

The council does not publish individual information about staff members. The exception to this is that the council is required to publish salaries of its senior management team and these can be found here:



Cheryl Pendry
Press and Media Manager
Thanet District Council


A key point Cheryl mentions  "the exception"  "senior management team" surely that's Richard Samuel Chief Exec.


Well at Kent county level, auditors, revealed that Conservative KCC had forgotten or simply not mentioned payments in excess of £200,000 pounds to keep former Chief Exec Peter Gilroy on for an extra year, of course no one would suggest that Tories were engaged in a cynical game of covering up another negligent waste of money.

No one begrudges, sensible payments to staff, particularly those at the lower levels, but stuffing up pension pay offs etc for top knobs is not on.

Until TDC comes clean with the facts, they can only expect more "widely inaccurate" reports in local blogs or what some of think might be closer to the truth than we are being told.

I look forward to Cheryl Pendry  of TDC PR, promptly sending out a clear and concise fact sheet detailing arrangements for senior officers.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

update on Landlord tax

Attended last nights Landlords meeting ,at which the case, for the councils License scheme was in my opinion demolished bit by bit by speaker Mike Stimpson, in a clear and articulate manner and despite the sterling efforts of Cllr Chris Wells supported by a couple of TDC officers to defend the policy, I doubt any of the audience were persuaded.
The main criticisms focused on, Thanet councils case, evidence and or argument for the scheme being err tilted in favour of their desire to introduce it, secondly similar schemes have or are running elsewhere and if anything proven, that far from improving rental accommodation or curbing antisocial behaviour, the imposition of £500 pound tax, stops further investment and further blights areas of deprivation.
The suggestion that the scheme will in anyway improve the quality of property in Margate and Cliftonville as a result, would seem a nonsense, as landlords have obligations, as do Thanet council have powers to enforce and as I mentioned before which was also raised, the point that in general most landlords do not entice antisocial elements into their property.
Something Thanet council and landlords seemed to agree, was the fact, that an estimated half million pounds was coming the councils way and the source, I guess will be tenants who will presumably be, in many cases hardworking people, living in our low wage economy or those whom fate has chosen to live on money recycled by the tax system to benefit claimants. Thanks Bayford and crew.
I understand that several of the speakers believe TDC's decision to be unlawful unfortunately I left before that mechanics of potential legal action was discussed.
As a PS, I see despite all the kerfuffle, Cllr Clive Hart, Thanet  Labour leader, was present with Labour colleagues and has not allowed current controversy, to get in the way of following issues important to his ward.  Unfortunately I didn't get the opportunity to ask him any questions on that other business, leaving when I did, since I have to get up at stupid O'clock most days.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Thanet Council are hoping to introduce a controversial new license scheme for landlords in Margate and Cliftonville.

Briefly the idea as I understand it, is this, Thanet Council are suggesting that landlords are responsible for the conduct of tenants, and it seems they are suggesting ,Margate residents who live in rental accommodation are, I guess unruly antisocial blighters and council officers and their Conservative masters are to punish local landlords accordingly with a hefty £500+ ransom scam license fee.

This will pay for council officers to presumably do what the do best and act like busy bodies doing god knows what.

Now it will have escaped the wit of both council officers and the Conservative run council, that as a rule, most landlords seek references from tenants, so as not to attract anti social vandals, in fact I'd be surprised if any landlord did anything whatsoever to encourage unpleasantness, presumably most people want a quiet life.

Cynics like me will just assume that Thanet council is just introducing the landlord license tax, purely to plunder the pockets of local landlords and since not all landlords are rich but often people who rent property to provide investment income, perhaps for retirement, they will no doubt have little choice but to pass on the costs to their tenants who will have been squeezed by an avaricious money grabbing bunch of heartless b*st*rds who are truly antisocial, the local council.

Anyhow I understand there is to be a public meeting tonight, arranged by local landlords which I hope will enlighten me, I must admit this is an issue I should have bought up before, and its been mentioned to me by several people.

Maybe the money raise will go to pay enhanced redundancies for senior TDC officers.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Cllr. Mark Nottingham - winning here and a withdrawal?

Don't panic I haven't suddenly seen the light, by winning here, I don't mean like, me here at Flaig Mansions, taken up Mark's brand of Labour politics, my life long allegiance to Liberal politics, remains, at the time of blogging has Clive Hart confirmed his resignation (NO),  it's just here in internet space, checking out, Wikio rankings I see that Mark's bloggin rates highest of all, here on the Island.

Wikio Rankings for Feb 2011

From one end of Kent 669
Bignews Margate 762
Thanet Press Releases 1122
Thanet Online 1201
Thanet Star 1275
Thanet Life 1699
Promote Thanet 2714
Thanet Coast 2772
So as always, Bignews remains second rate, still the accolade or lack of, which cuts deepest for me, was the omission of Bignews Margate from this weeks Sunday ramble in Michael Child's Thanet Online, surely the cruellest cut of all.

The only crumb of comfort  for me is that along with Margate Architecture (which for some reason is not listed Wikio), Bignews and From one end of Kent, currently have a Google page rank of 4, which higher, than that of other local, blogs. I must say I'm a wee bit surprised that Thanet Life is currently in the "also ran" category, still that would explain why Cllr Simon Moores has been squatting on the comment pages of this blog recently.

Update on the Hart – Nottingham kerfuffle, I rang Cllr Nottingham tonight to see if there were any developments, unfortunately he was in transit and unable to comment or explain why his whistleblowing posting has vaporised as I type! Curious! hopefully Mark will find himself a wi-fi hotspot and let us know.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Those who might have expected Labour Fireworks after Mark Nottingham's exposé of just how democratic and equitable things are in Clive Hart's Local Labour have been dealt  a blow with the realisation, that not only is this turning out more a damp squib  but despite Cllr Clive Hart's pledge or promise, to resign he hasn't and I doubt personally he will.
Politicians are only human and frankly the further down the food chain, like here in Thanet, that is more apparent, however, Mark has suggested a less than level selection procedure in Thanet Labour which has apparently resulted in his being deselected for May's local elections. Now you only have to look at many candidates and councillors to realise that the gene pool is not that strong as far as competent people fit to run the council is concerned.Mark Nottingham
So looking at Mark Nottingham with even the most cursory knowledge of local politics and his background, its clear that as a respected councillor and Labour party member, in what crazy circumstances would he not be selected?
Now coming back to Clive Hart, he is of course as good as any, in presenting and arguing the Labour party agenda, in Thanet council, but surely has no authority having said he would resign following Mark's revelations, "I am a team player and always have been.  However, I simply refuse to be the leader of a group with a member who behaves in the manner of Mark Nottingham." Mark is still a member of the group following on from Thursday's Labour group meeting.
Thursdays meeting did not remove Mark from the party so when exactly is he going to stand down, as he said he would, even in yesterdays Gazette he is reported to have said "Having a member saying the things Mark says makes my position as leader of the group untenable."
Still taking a gander at Clive's twitter stream nothing seems to perturb him including Pfizer's closure and his own promise/pledge to resign.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Margate Caves time for council to fess up

Its one of those unfortunate features of Thanet Council, that public statements or information coming from officers and councillors is often misleading and at worst one assumes deliberately intended to hoodwink and bamboozle, we who bankroll and suffer  the consequences of slipshod local government.

A prime example is Thanet councils decision to seal up the entrance to Margate caves, various figures have been quoted as too how much it would cost to make the caves safe, £100,000, £150,000 and even I am told a rather hysterical £250,000 at one point on Simon Moores Site ( apparently later changed to the more credible £150,000).

Both Thanet Extra and Gazette reporters quote a figure £100,000, so what are we to conclude, maybe council officers don't wish us to worry or maybe Cllr Simon Moores knows more and isn't frightened to let us know.

I know Cllr Moores is a busy person and I just wonder, if perhaps he's taking on a bit more than he can handle, still it seems such is his omnipotence, that recently, I note he has taking to giving his opinion on how or whether I should blog, a bit like all that hypercritical nonsense spouted about blogging protocols for councillor.

Moores seems intent on engineering a spat, and I for one really have better things to do, still I sometimes wonder if "its just me" although I am truly indebted to the lady who emailed me earlier this week and used rather emphatic language which convinced me it wasn't.

Both officers and politicians have a duty to communicate clearly and in an objective way, there will always be politicians happy to fill the media with instant and meaningless babble and waffle.

My comment on whether or not Margate Caves is worth saving for a hundred grand is this, I'm led to believe by councillors, that senior officers, superfluous to a leaner council, will be getting generous enhanced severance pay, and its my belief that the sums involved would easily pay for safety work on the Caves.

If Thanet council could fess up and give us accurate figures, I think we know how the public would wish to see money spent, invested in local heritage for the future, or given to those who in some cases have contributed to the area's decline.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

PFIZER'S CLOSURE - Will it reduce East Kent to a peasant economy? 5000* Jobs on the line?

News that Pfizer pharmaceuticals are to close their research and development establishment at Sandwich in Kent, will come as a bitter blow to those of us who live in East Kent, Pfizer has for many years been seen as one of the few businesses located in our region willing or able to offer quality jobs.
Over the next 18 months to 2 years, the site will be run down and closed resulting in 2400 job losses, the suggestion that staff may  be offer jobs, at other sites will come as cold comfort, particularly given the fact that they are cutting back activities globally. One point that needs to be made, is that in recent years many jobs at Sandwich, have been handed over to agency workers, with all that entails, so is the 2400 figure the bottom line or top of the Iceberg? 
@ 16:20 Just had a word with Pfizer media bods and unfortunately the figure of 2400 does only, include directly employed staff so agency  and contract staff have not been factored in to headlines. @ 16:41 spoke again to Pfizer who are unable to give a figure of those indirectly employed, *Matt B of Thanet Star suggest up to 3000 contractors will also go, can anyone confirm this estimate, or question it?
Times change and although Pfizer has been viewed in the past as a good employer clearly things have changed and so has business culture, as an outsider, you would think that a company their size, would be able to maintain what I understand is a world class facility, particularly as one understands the Viagra, one of the companies major products was developed at the site.
It remains to be seen whether the government or the business community will be capable of salvaging anything from this decision, it would appear that East Kent is about to become a peasant economy, with aspiration capped, to the prospect of minimum wage jobs.
What a disaster!  The scale of this economic disaster will transcend narrow political divides and hopefully for once politicians will put on a united front to get whatever help and assistance is necessary to mitigate the effects of such a blow to the region.

Thanet Councils response to the news set out below,  I have spoken to KCC and have asked if they could let me have the reaction of Kent Council since this is a major blow to the region which they have in the form of a Statement from Paul Carter, Kent Council Leader

Thanet Council Pfizer Closure response

News of Pfizer’s decision to cease operations at its Sandwich site has come as a huge blow. Leader of the Council, Cllr Bob Bayford said “This news is an enormous setback for Thanet and the East Kent economy as a whole. Many of the staff who work there live in Thanet, so the unexpected closure of such an important contributor to the East Kent economy is especially worrying, particularly at a time when both the national and local economy face equally daunting challenges.

Thanet’s unemployment level is already the highest in the South East so this is going to hit us particularly hard, at a time when the economic recovery is still very fragile.

We will be seeking an urgent ministerial meeting with our local MPs to see what action the government can take to mitigate the job losses. We call on the government to intervene and provide tangible opportunities to attract business investment into East Kent to replace the jobs lost. We will be redoubling our efforts to attract businesses and investment into Thanet.

We will also be working closely with our neighbouring councils and with the county council to mitigate the impact of Pfizer’s closure on surrounding businesses and the local economy.”

KCC Leader Paul Carter's Statement

Statement from Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council.

“The closure of Pfizer at Sandwich is a major blow to East Kent. Many of Pfizer’s workforce live in the area and are among the most highly skilled workers in Kent. This will also have a massive impact on local people and the local economy that support Pfizer as a business.

“I have now been asked by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to lead a task force in partnership with Pfizer and the Local Enterprise Partnership to do everything we can to mitigate the impact of this decision and continue with our ambitious plans for East Kent.

“I will also be working closely with local MPs such as Laura Sandys, Charlie Elphicke and the leaders of Dover and Thanet District Councils to look at innovative solutions to minimise the impact on the communities of East Kent, as well as the broader Kent economy.”

Pfizers Press release in full

Pfizer Announces PROPOSALS TO EXIT Sandwich SITE AS PART OF acceleration of GLOBAL r&d strategy

Sandwich, UK 1st February 2011: Pfizer Inc. has today announced its intention to exit its research site at Sandwich in Kent. This decision is part of a global programme of changes announced today to accelerate Pfizer’s long term research and development (R&D) strategy to create a more focused and sustainable R&D engine for innovation. As part of this global strategy Pfizer is planning to exit certain therapeutic areas, including Allergy & Respiratory, which is based at Sandwich.

The number of Pfizer colleagues currently employed at our Sandwich site is approximately 2400.  Over the next 18-24 months a majority of these positions will be redundant, but we hope to transfer several hundred positions to other Pfizer sites or to external partners, subject to employee consultation and other legal requirements.

Given the talented and strong workforce and the excellent facilities at Sandwich, Pfizer is working actively to find partnership opportunities which can utilise the facilities and buildings, in an effort to preserve jobs and activity on the site.

During this period, Pfizer’s priority is to support colleagues affected by this decision. Every effort will be made to mitigate the impact on Pfizer colleagues and the local community. The company will work closely with national and local agencies as this process moves forward.

A new Pain and Sensory Disorders Unit will be based in Cambridge, UK drawing on some assets from the Regenerative Medicines Unit.

In future there will be approximately 3,000 positions across Pfizer’s entire business in the UK.

Dr Ruth McKernan, Senior Vice President and Site Head at Sandwich said: “It is with a deep sense of sadness that we announce our proposal to exit our site in Sandwich, Kent. It has played an important role in the discovery and development of medicines and has brought many life-saving treatments to patients.

“Sandwich has an extremely talented workforce with a proud and rich history in science research and development. This decision is no reflection on the site, the workforce or the operating environment in the UK. We recognise that this is a difficult time for colleagues and the community and our priority now, and over the coming weeks and months, is to support our people through this process.

“It is hoped that we can retain this proud R&D heritage through strategic partnerships in the future.”