Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Blog from Cllr Chris Wells

As you can imagine, I get side tracked like anyone particularly at this time of year and despite being on holiday, events tend to derail, plans to do things like, a bit more blogging and lounging about, such an event was a call Monday requesting I attend a briefing on some new procedure for work, this took up much of Wednesday, and of course Mrs Me has a list of things I need to do, not that I feel the need but .... naturally the pressure of all this has taken its toll, resulting in me falling asleep around 7 this evening, I had hoped to give a rich and fulsome report on Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder's visit to support the campaign against live exports and promise to do so first thing tomorrow morning.

Anyhow in the meantime Cllr Chris Wells agreed to be a guest blogger, and my apologies for not publishing earlier but blame channel four news, anyhow belatedly Chris continues the parking discussion, commenting on Labours recent press release. (PS If anyone from Labour or indeed elsewhere would like to do us the honour

Understanding the Politics of Press Releases

If you are in power within the local council, your policy normally comes out as a press release from the council channels, which means it must be not overtly political.  If you are in opposition the only channel you have available is your group release.

When a governing group issues releases under it’s political group channels, that means what follows should be checked carefully for the bias and politics banned from the council releases.

So it is with the Labour Group press release on parking, ( which contains so many political tricks it is positively educational in the care which must be taken in the reading of such releases.

Firstly, it rebuts something not actually said by the opponents – an old, but gold trick – in claiming the Conservative release said things it did not.  I never claimed the parking review and policy as a solely Conservative idea; merely what we had left for consultation when in charge.

Secondly, it uses seeming authoritative knowledge of dates and procedure to try and prove Conservative members had no part in the policy formulation; and then has to concede formal discussion with appropriate Cabinet members in formulating the policy paper.

Thirdly, it then evidences that Cllr Wells did not write the report to Senior Management Team; something again I did not claim.  And then concedes it would have been inappropriate if I had.

Fourthly, it claims evidence of parking fee rises in the budget papers, but misses the vital point that the fees and charges are held till at least June; so that they can go before full council rather than being part of the standard fees and charges review, which was all I asserted.

The final claim, that this was all part of a normal annual review is shown to be farcical by this being out of step with the annual budget cycle, and was consciously withdrawn for thorough review.  This changed timing was openly discussed at the November Joint Transportation meeting, which Cllr Mrs Johnston attended.

It would appear that in the interests of transparency and cross party working Cllr Mrs Johnston dare not concede any good work done before her holding office.

I hope you have found this necessary deconstruction of some political press releases useful and informative.

Have a Happy Christmas.


  1. No not sour grapes, facts, that is what Labour hate, well done Chris a most constructive and informative Blog.
    The "Red Flag" Thanet labour Blog is a disgrace and the new Leader should now be a little more selective in the tripe that goes out under its banner

  2. The so called press release from cllr Wells was a bit strange. the press release ended and then there were further statements regarding costs for Birchington which just did not add up.
    No tory councillor has comments on Thanet's blogs with hard facts to justify these claims and it just looked like a smear campaign.

    We now find out and I am sure that cllr Wells is a bit miffed by this, that the proposals were put together by a TDC officer.

    But proposals they are and it makes you wonder why after all their time in office and with the ever declining economic situation why cllr Wells and co did not suggest free parking schemes before. They had their chance and if a remember correctly they even raised parking charges by 16% just two years ago.

  3. Not in the slightest bit miffed, it is simply strong evidence of a fine working relationship between officers and cabinet members under the previous administration.

    The facts are the facts, and the figures given at the end of the press release are accurate, and I have explained them fully on several occasions since.

    All Labour has to do is endorse a good idea. Lets see how well they do that; and consider reasons behind the possible alternatives.

  4. Chris Wells and Simon Moores must of lost a few quid, no wonder the sour grapes!

  5. Anonymous 3:01 I think you mean "Must have" lost a few quid..!

    Just to remind people that on average councillors receive well below the minimum wage by way of expenses for the time they devote to the good of the community.

  6. Even the ones living in Panama?

  7. "On average" and with thousands of councillors up and down the country across a range of parties, you will find unusual exceptions, much like MPs.

    In fairness to the councillor from Panama, he didn't know that he job would take him to South America when he ran for election and you recall he subsequently stood-down when it became clear he could not fulfill his role.

    If society want working and professional people to enter local politics, this is something which is bound to happen on occasions.

    The alternative lies with the exclusively retired and unemployed, hanging-on to their small allowance at all costs, which may be equally unpalatable to the electorate.

    Fortunately, the system works most of the time but it is by no means perfect.

  8. We still dont know why the press release refered to the cost of 30 min free parking across Thanet being put at 43% of the total revenue. With the cost being put at £233,000 this represents a total parking income of £540,000.

    But from TDC own web site when parking charges were last increased in 2008/09 the additional revenue of £201,000 was from a 16% increase.
    So although only the on street parking income is listed in the accounts, the 2008/9 increase indicates that parking charges raise over £1.25 millions.

    And £233,000 is not 43% of the total income.

    It looks like to me like whoever produced thereport has confused off and on street parking revenues andcome up withe the rong percentge but stuck with it because it looks good for politicaal purposes.

    So cllr Wells tell up what you thing the total on and off street parking revenues are.

  9. The councillor in Panama was still being signed in to council meetings so that he could collect his allowances. And it was over year before the party leader did something about it.

    I dont think we ever had a satisfatory answer to how and by whom he was signed in.

    I think we have BignewsMargate for bringing this to the public eye, you may care to check his archive.

  10. Was there a proper enquiry about the mystery person who signed him in? Or was it quickly dismissed as an "accident"? Just curious if anyone knows.

  11. What's up Pervy Pete, tired of trying to stir things on Ville Views?

  12. 3:01 Your literary skill astounds me and I sometimes wonder how long you have to spend thinking up the gems you contribute to posterity. Did you really think up 'sour grapes' all by yourself and, in the context of Cllr Wells's Guest Blog, to what exactly does it allude.

    Obviously I have no idea what you do for a living, but if it is not satirical political writing, you should perhaps rethink your career.

  13. 7:27.. the "signed-in" allegation is completely untrue, I'm sure you know it but you persist in spreading the rumour, months if not years later.

    This was investigated by the council and shown to be a simple recording error by the Democratic Services officer.

    I've explained before how it happened and yet the conspiracy theory continues.

    It's all pretty basic. There's a big lined book that is passed around the council chamber and everyone signs against their name. If you have a flamboyant signature then it's quite possible that someone looking at the name against the signature can make a mistake. In aviation terms we call this a parallax error when binocular vision produces an error in reading instrumentation.

    It's what happened in that particular instrument and the wrong name was recorded for the meeting and the rest is as much history as the grassy knoll in the Kennedy assassination.

  14. Not exactly a good sytem of checking up to 56 people attending a meeting.
    The main point is he was unable to properly represent his ward and you cannot hide the fact that from May to October when the Panama councillor "resigned" he did not attend any council meetings and still collectd his allowance.
    But just maybe he had a conscience and paid it back!

  15. That's telling him, Simon, but it will make not a scrap of difference. From time to time up will pop the Panama councillor and the allegations of being signed in to conceal his absence. Bigotry is part of the Labour make up and there is nothing we can say or do to change that.

    Anyway, it pleases their little minds and who are we to deny them their infantile pleasures at this festive time of year.

  16. Maybe "The Margate Cat Killer" had a conscience and paid it back too, though I doubt it!

  17. 11:48 Do not never tire of your little snide stories. There really is something of the gutter about you, but I guess that goes with the political persuasion.

    How about some stories about banged up Labour MPs or the one who thought he was Reginald Perrin for a change.

  18. Actually, through a slip of the finger, it was a double negative which must equate to a positive, so you guess what you like.

  19. It's not a great system I grant you but to my knowledge has never failed before. I think you need to consider that regardless of Party, a councillor receives an allowance until he or she stands down, an a by-election is held, much like an MP.

    In regards to Ted and the cat, the tragedy there was a result of foolish neglect of a litter of kittens rather than malice. Because he was a local politician the consequences were grave indeed and consider for a moment the really harrowing stories of local animal cruelty where the owners walk away without any real sanctions.

  20. Had enough of rule by London? INDEPENDENCE FOR THANET

  21. Tom Clarke, if you crawl further up Moores's arse, you may get stuck there for Christmas. You deserve each other, though.

  22. More exquisite turns of phrase I see, 8:09 PM, and such originality. Tell me, which secondary modern did you graduate from?

    As for Dr, M, a while back on Thanet Life, he referred to me as a Troll, so it is not all peace and love, as Peter might say.

    Anyway, you have a nice Christmas in your own down market sort of way.

  23. I'm clearly mistaken and the Christmas troll is making his presence felt here..

    Happy Holidays trolls and humans alike!

  24. Rules you out of both categories, then Councillor.

  25. Oh please !

    One can barely keep ones dinner down looking at the picture let alone bothering to read; arnt councillors supposed to be public servants ?

    No accounting for taste then !