Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Photo that should never see the light of day!

Today I have taken the bold decision to release a photograph into the public domain, prohibited by the jobsworths and pompous inhabitants of Thanet council, the proceeding description does not apply to all staff and councillors only those opposed to public access but those of us who sometime visit the council chamber might have noticed the offensive restrictions on using cameras and recording devices in the taxpayer funded supposedly democratic arena.

Some of you will know of the hostile attitude by some council officers and councillors at the mere idea of the public recording for posterity the efficiency and adult conduct of public meetings. I myself have on at least three different meetings been so obstructed by officers and staff that it was necessary to write to the Thanet chief executive to complain. The last and most serious event I was forced to leave a public meeting due to an "overzealous" member of staff.

Recently I enquired with a TDC press wallah, having witnessed Thomas Brown of the Gazette, film part of council proceedings as to the criteria, for allowing such practices, a fair bit of waffle ensued about "accredited media" responsibility, it seems the bottom line, is this, they will not allow anyone to record proceedings unless they happen to be part of the traditional cosy establishment, interestingly the first two video's from the council meetings seemed to happily highlight Cllr Worrow's excitable outburst about "hate crime" perpetrators, and Cllr Driver giving a deserved  passionate performance, asking about the honesty and conduct of  Thanet Council in giving away £3.4 million away to insolvent TransEuropa ferries. The more reasoned videos from the TransEuropa debate wasn't published till some time after something the Gazette could explain.

As we all know in this country our media and press organisations are without reproach, who could question the high standards of the countries key news provider News International or indeed the ethical standards of journalists, just what was all that silly business with Leveson.

Anyhow I have to fess up to the crime of taking an unauthorised photo at a recent council meeting, this was purely accidental, still publishing isn't, I have no doubt that leaders of the council will once again join together as they always do over crisis and controversy like Arlington, TransEuropa, Pleasurama etc. to condemn my actions.
To you and I the photograph shows a foot, a bit of carpet and the creaky uncomfortable seating in the public gallery of the council chamber, still to the Senior Bods such as Cllr Clive Hart, Cllr Bob Bayford and Chief Exec Dr.Sue McGonigal, I can only guess that they see a dangerous pro democracy intent (which is why I included the Chief executive's Dr title since this seems to be used to add gravitas in press releases).

I have made several requests over the last few weeks, admittedly these were by phone to the press office but so far no permission has been given, for me as a responsible blogger with some track record of honest reportage to be allowed the same privilege as the Gazette, to me this shows a clear political bias. 

As has been reported elsewhere the Communities Minister Eric Pickles has clearly indicated that councils should allow bloggers access, still it seems that Thanet council as with Pleasurama, Arlington, prefers to do business in the dark away from scrutiny, perhaps for all we know everything is predetermined down the lodge?

Vue Cinema - Man of Steal, Ears of Cloth?

In my view the world of entertainment has moved on, cinemas such as Vue offer comfortable seating and quality projection systems.

Still that said, can someone explain to me, why it was necessary, when I watched, the film Man of Steal with an advertised start time of 11:00hrs, the film actually started a half hour later, I checked the time on my phone (in Airplane mod) 11:26 and believe that a couple more trailers were squeezed in after, the sound levels in my opinion were uncomfortably loud and although not necessarily accurate or indeed scientific at one point I checked the sound level with a phone app which indicated that the noise was over 90db. 

At work I use power tools so carry ear plugs for protection,  should I now do the same thing when going to the cinema. I'm no expert and maybe the big sound is of some help to those with auditory impairment, for me however it detracted from the film.

Vue offer a premium product, comfortable seating, convenient parking which would be brilliant if they could add accurate start times for feature films (I called them and if I understood right, they have no control over such things as the film distributor bundles advertising features with the film) also, sound levels the result of projection equipment and not controlled by the cinema?

Finally if cinemas cannot get the balance right, in future, I'll wait for the dvd, admittedly there is no substitute for the big screen picture but at least I chose when to watch a film without losing half hour of my life to all the dross of adverts and trailers also I wont have to pay more than the price of budget dvd.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Margate regeneration new blow? as Seafront Tesco's and New car park confirmed

Being in a pickle will soon have new meaning as residents and visitors are likely to be caught in fresh traffic jams on Margate seafront, its official, Eric Pickles MP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government department has reached the conclusion that the development of a Tesco Superstore should be allowed to go ahead.

Grim news for anyone living in Margate or even Thanet, the inspector assessing the appeal against this Tesco development thought  "that the proposal would be unlikely to have significant adverse impact on investment, or the vitality and viability of Margate town centre". 

I just wonder whether the governments inspector will be moving to Margate or Westbrook anytime soon, will he be spending time in the inevitable traffic jams along the seafront, or spending time on Margate beach reflecting on the incongruity of a hideous retail development, adding to the equally awful Arlingtion House which has blighted Margate many years.

Thanet Council and Thanet have become a byword for all that is negative in local government, the Communities and Local Government department have in my opinion by endorsing Thanet council planning committee decision  have highlighted the reputation for airhead thinking and shoddy decision making we victims, know so well.

Cold comfort is added by the highly competent and inspirational leader of Thanet Council Cllr Clive Hart who had this to say “There can be no doubt that the area immediately surrounding Arlington House, which is the entrance to Margate, is an eyesore." You'll note that he doesn't mention failings of his administration and those past, in its dealings with the landlords Freshwater.

As if to add to the despondent mood of us local residents further response to another calamity as Clive added "our role now will be to get the best possible outcome for the residents of Margate and Thanet and to ensure the site complements and enhances the wider regeneration of the town.” God Help Us!

It would be unfair to just blame Labour councillors, Tory are, as inept as are independents and of course officers, elsewhere in the media Thanet council once again features in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column not for this one, but the extraordinary waste of approximately three and half million pounds gifted to a foreign ferry company and of course begs the question why no council officers have resigned or the cosy consensus of Cllr Bob Bayford (tory leader) and Clive who secretly agreed a very shaky multi million pound credit facility with little hope of repayment unless you include Bob Hope and no hope.

Anyhow we can count ourselves lucky, nobody has proposed building a flipping abattoir or sighting a blimin scapyard on Marine Terrace lets hope neither Clive and Bob are ever put to the test eh!

Other reading The GrocerTelegraphFacebook, FT, Kentnews, Arlington Margate

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Thanet Council- A question of trust

In April Thanet Council issued a statement with this opening line "The article published in the Isle of Thanet Gazette today (5 April 2013) regarding the council’s Economic and Regeneration Manager Mr. Rob Hetherington includes several inaccuracies which the council would like to correct."

Rather oddly if you ask me it goes on to say "It is incorrect that Mr. Hetherington has been informed of any decision in relation to his leaving employment with the council or that the council is in talks with him over any severance package."

Surprisingly this weeks Gazette announces the departure of a Rob Hetherington, not surprisingly Thanet Council seems to have a strict policy policy of not advising, us taxpayers of such matters, lets hope that Thanet council haven't dipped into taxpayers pockets to pay some humongous severance package although it's generally the way with local authorities and generally to insult to injury councils usually include a gagging order with such payments.

Secrecy seems a big thing with Thanet council, would the public really have remained quiet as Thanet Council built up a massive £3 million pound debt with some shaky ferry company. What else are officers sitting on apart from their bottoms.

It is my view that the council press release of April was misleading and perhaps Council leader Clive Hart and or Council boss Sue McGonical ought to explain why?

Finally I just wonder what press or media bods do at Thanet Council other than cover the backsides of officers and councillors with the council. Could someone please remind those highly competent bods such as Cllr Clive Hart, Cllr Bob Bayford and importantly the Chief Executive Dr Sue McGonical that it is our money that they are using.