Tuesday, 21 January 2014

One Rule for Farage Another for the Rest

So lets get this clear. I do not condone violence of any type. But I intensely  dislike  hypocrisy and double standards.

No matter how twisted, reactionary or plain damn stupid Farage and UKIPs policies are on women in the workplace, lesbians, gays and the weather, fox hunting and of course immigration, it was not right that he was assaulted.

I understand that a suspect was arrested very quickly and has now been bailed.

However, what about Farage's minders? I filmed one of them assaulting a demonstrator who was not obstructing or in any way threating Farage. The person concerned reported the matter to the police shortly after the event.

I do not believe Farage's minder has been contacted by the police. Let alone arrested, charged and bailed for what looks like quite a nasty elbow to the throat.

Where is the equality of justice here? Why should people exercising their legal right to demonstrate  receive a lesser justice than Nigel Farage?

This is not right.

In the meantime the UKIP media spin doctors portray the event as poor Nigel assaulted by the nasty demonstrators. This is not the truth. It is my opinion that the actions of  Farage's minders contributed towards what happened yesterday.

Thank goodness I filmed it. here is the slow motion of the assault which took place before Mr Farage was assaulted. I do not approve of either or any assault but I do think we need a balanced account of what happened.

Last but not least why were there only 2 police officers on duty?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Farage Thanet Fury. Wheels Falling Off UKIPs Bus

I guess it was inevitable things would kick off. UKIP seem to be upsetting everyone. Their support for hunting is annoying many people. Their homophobic views are stirring up the LGBT community. Farage's comments on women in the workplace having less value than men and their incessant scapegoating of immigrants for all that is wrong in this country   is beginning to backfire.  I went  to take a look at the demo today. Some very angry people were there. Here is my film.
 I suspect the wheels might be beginning to fall of Nigel's bus.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Thanet For Democracy. Time for Change

Nobody seems to have a good word to say about  Thanet Council politicians. And even though I’m a councillor myself, neither do I!

They make deals with failing ferry companies and property speculators wasting  £millions in taxpayers money in the process. They are incompetent. Supporting plans and investing public money in  airports, ferry and  container terminals and railway stations which most people know  have no sustainable future. They pour huge amounts of money into dodgy joint venture organisations like East Kent Opportunities which will never pay back investment value. They allow the over-development of our rapidly disappearing greenfield land. They  agree  senior  management restructures which cost hundreds of thousands in redundancies payments and gagging orders, only to revert  back to the old structure less than 3 years later. They conduct their business in secrecy. They won’t allow the public to film meetings. They vote through rules permitting councillors to procure gifts and hospitality up to £99.99 without  the need to declare these inducements. Some of them  are corrupt, using inside knowledge and influence to make personal profit. Others are dismissive, rude and downright insulting towards the public who elected them.

And when Independent, non-party political, Members of the Council Standards Committee warn that their behaviour threatens to bring the Council into disrepute what do they do? They round on these well intentioned volunteers, reject their report and bully them mercilessly until they resign in disgust.
Quite frankly the political leadership of Thanet Council is more suited to North Korea than Northdown Road  

And it’s not just me saying that. Read the local papers. Read the blogs. Read the Facebook pages. Listen to and watch the news reports about Thanet on TV and Radio. Virtually anyone with an opinion about Thanet Council and its political leadership is massively critical.
So why is it like this?

Well in my view the way in which the Council is being managed is the cause of a  lot of the problems we are seeing. For the past decade or so, Thanet has been run by what’s called a Leader/ Cabinet system. Which means that the current Leader, Clive Hart, and his  team of 5 Cabinet  Councillors make virtually all of the  important decisions about how TDC is run including how the Council’s multi-£million budget  is spent.

More and more people are now thinking that this system of political management  is wrong. It concentrates power, influence and decision making in the hands of too few people, It allows for the domination of a single political party. This means that decisions are unlikely to be made on the basis of  a proper balanced debate. It means that alternative views and ideas are not taken seriously. It means that it’s much easier to make mistakes and bad decisions.

The other problem with this system is patronage. Cabinet members depend on the good will of the Leader to keep their posts and their lucrative responsibility allowances, Council officers  are reluctant to disagree with  political leaders for fear of their jobs.  This often means that Council  Leaders and Cabinet members often become surrounded with yes mem and women who, because  seldom dare to question or disagree with their patrons.

This type of unhealthy relationship can have disastrous impact upon the quality of decision making and can even lead to councillors and officers turning a blind eye to bad practice, misconduct and corruption by Councillor Leaders and Cabinet members.

But  don’t take my word for it. Several senior  Thanet councillors have confided in me that they had serious doubts about Sandy Ezeikel’s activities when he was the Council leader. Others have told me that were desperately unhappy about the Pleasurama and TransEuropa decisions. But despite these worries and doubts,  they all admitted to keeping quite  because they were worried about how their positions in the Cabinet or on other committees might be affected if they broke ranks.  In Thanet we  are all living with the consequences of a flawed system of political management at the Council which has led to incompetence, corruption and poor service delivery.
But it doesn’t need to be like to this.

The Localism Act 2011 gives residents the tools to fight back against corrupt, incompetent councils like Thanet. Using this piece of legislation its possible to force the Council to abandon it undemocratic, secretive, Leader/ Cabinet system of management and replace it  with something better. The committee system.
This approach to managing the Council puts a stop to a tiny cabal of councillors from the same political  party exercising all the power. Power is spread out to several committees and backbench councillors from all political parties become engaged in making decisions. It’s even possible for members of the public to be co-opted on to committees to give councillors the benefit of their specialist knowledge and experience. An inclusive approach to decision making means that wiser choices are made and it also destroys the  power of patronage.

So how do we make this happen. Simple. We must raise a petition asking the Council to change the Leader/ Cabinet system of management to a committee system. The petition must have a minimum number of 4869 signatures (5% of registered electors). If this figure is achieved and the signatures verified then the Council MUST hold a referendum of all voters. If the change is approved then then Council must abolish the Cabinet/ Leader system.

Funnily enough a campaign to make such a change has  just begun on Canterbury. Many people across Canterbury have become heartily fed up with the way the City Council politicians are managing things. They are now collecting signatures to force a referendum on the introduction of  a  democratic committee system.
Well I say if democracy is good enough for Canterbury its good enough Thanet!.  So lets go to work.

If you are interested in becoming involved in starting a campaign to pettion for change please get in touch with me. This would be a non-party political campaign. It’s purely about making our council more democratic,  accountable and effective. So whatever your views, Whatever you affiliations e-mail me on

It’s time for change in Thanet.

Do you want to be part of it?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

I Publish Secret TransEuropa Ferries Report In the Public Interest

I am publishing, in the public interest, a secret Thanet Council report  which, on the basis of external legal advice, states that it will be virtually impossible for the Council to  recover a penny of the astronomic £3.4million debt which is owed to Thanet Council by TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies.

This debt was the result of an agreement between Thanet Council, TransEuropa Ferries and its associated companies which allowed the companies to defer the  payment of fees and charges at Ramsgate Port for over 2 years.

The deal was  kept top secret. It was only known about by top Council officers and approved by Council political bosses Council Bob Bayford, Martin Wise of the Tory Party and Councillors Clive Hart and Rick Everitt of the Labour Party. These councillors were kept fully briefed about the agreement and they kept  it under review.

 I have always said it was wrong to have kept a debt of £3.4million secret from  50 plus elected councillors and the public. I still believe this to be the case. Keeping the deal secret involved, in my opinion,  breaking or ignoring Thanet Council's constitutional rules which is an extremely  serious matter.

What this report shows is that if the Council had acted sooner, perhaps in late in 2011 or early 2012, it could have secured the rapidly growing TransEuropa debt against the companies assets and ensured that TDC  could have recovered some of the money owing. Perhaps not the full £3.4million, but hundreds of thousands  instead of losing the lot! Once again this demonstrates the staggering incompetence of Thanet Council. By failing to properly evaluate the  financial risk posed by the growing debt  and by failing to take mitigating action £3.4million of taxpayers money has been lost.  This incompetence means that Thanet residents must now pick up the bill for a secret gamble with public money which went wrong.

What I want to know is why this report is secret? There are no reasonable grounds to classify it as restricted.  The people of Thanet should be allowed to see how incompetent their Council and the politicians  who run it really are. Its time for a change.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Driver Condems Fracking Bribery

Yesterday's Government announcement allowing local councils to retain 100% of business rates paid by fracking site operators, alongside industry proposals to pay local communities £100,000 lump sums and 1% of revenues for each  drilling rig (1), have been condemned by the Kent Green Party as “fracking bribery”.

Green Party Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South, Ian Driver, said: “The Government is preparing to hand out cash sweeteners and inducements in advance of the Petroleum Exploration and Development Licensing (PEDL) round, taking place later this year.”

In Kent only two sites, one to the west and one to the east of the county, are currently licensed for oil and gas exploration. But Driver warns that maps produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (2) show that “every last square inch of Kent’s land will be brought under the PEDL licensing scheme”,  allowing companies such as Cuadrilla,  notorious for its Balcombe drilling site, to purchase exploration rights anywhere in the county, providing they have the permission of the landowner.”

The Government predicts a strong interest in the licence sales, especially in the South East. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Sevenoaks MP and Minister of State for Energy, Michael Fallon, said that significant reserves of shale gas are likely to be found “right across the South. We’re talking about Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, into Kent” and that “households right across the South should prepare for gas fracking to begin in their areas (3)”.
Government reassurances that, if properly regulated, controversial fracking techniques can be carried out without danger are hotly disputed by Driver, who said: “There is strong and compelling evidence emerging from countries such as the USA and Australia, where fracking has been taking place for some time, that such procedures can never be carried out safely.

“Even the Government’s own Environmental Assessment highlights the dangers of  fracking, including the astronomical demand for billions of cubic metres of water, much of which will become polluted by the extraction process, the danger to underground drinking water supplies (especially in Kent where 70% of drinking water comes from underground sources),  the huge number of  additional vehicle movements and congestion in the countryside, where many drilling rigs will be located, and the noise and atmospheric pollution associated with this process (4).”

Despite the large financial incentives, Driver predicts strong opposition to the expansion of gas exploration and extraction in Kent. “In East Kent, exploration company Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd was recently forced, by overwhelming public opposition, to withdraw three planning applications for exploratory drilling at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone (5). Planning authority Kent County Council was inundated by hundreds of objections from local residents and all four Parish Councils covering the proposed drilling sites voted to oppose the plans.

“I expect to see many more examples of people power and community opposition developing across Kent and the rest of south-east England as the new licences are sold and planning applications to drill are submitted. Whatever the Government might say, and no matter how much they try to bribe local communities, most people don’t want their villages and towns disrupted and devastated by fracking, or the security of their water supplies put at risk. It’s too high a price to pay.

“The Green Party is the only national political party to oppose the extraction of shale and coal bed methane gas and the use of fracking processes. We will work with local communities across Kent to fight plans for drilling for gas.”


2. Map attached to this e-mail

3. Interview with Michael Fallon MP, The Telegraph, 8th November 2013.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Ian Driver Selected as Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South

Thanet District Councillor, Ian Driver, has been selected as the Green Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Thanet South constituency.

Well known in Thanet, Driver has a reputation for speaking out against incompetence and mismanagement at Thanet Council, including his exposure of the secret TransEuropa Ferries  £3.4 million debt scandal and his opposition to the Pleasurama development which has blighted Ramsgate’s Seafront for 10 years.
“I love living in Thanet. I’m passionate about the place and its people and I believe that there is fantastic future for the area ” said Driver. “I want to give Thanet South a strong voice in Parliament to make sure it gets the maximum possible resources and support from the Government I will also work hard  to encourage businesses to invest here. With a strong economy we can begin to tackle the unacceptable levels of poverty, deprivation and the desperate shortage of decent affordable  housing which have plagued Thanet South for too long”.

“I also want to continue the important work started by outgoing MP Laura Sandy’s to build  a Green economy in  Thanet South based on sustainable  development principles.”

As Chairman of Thanet Council’s Scrutiny Committee Driver  launched a major  investigation into the raw sewage pollution of Thanet beaches in 2012, for which Southern Water is now facing prosecution. He helped to set up and played a leading role in  the successful campaign to stop the export of live animals for slaughter, from the Port of Ramsgate. His peaceful direct action, against Thanet Council's ban on public filming of its meetings and his complaint to the Government about TDCs secrecy, helped to persuade Secretary of State Eric Pickles to change the law to force Councils to allow filming. Driver is currently campaigning against "fracking" in East Kent, including plans to drill for methane gas at Woodnesborough in the Thanet South constituency.
Driver lives in Broadstairs with his wife, who used to be former Thanet South MP Johnathan Aitken's hair stylist,  and three daughters. He used to manage the Thanet Citizens Advice Bureau and is now a carer for his disabled daughter. He lists his interest as music especially soul, reggae, dance and indie. He is learning to play the guitar and his idea of a good night out is a couple of beers and a curry with friends.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Pleasurama & Terence Painter Estate Agent.

My mum used to say to me tell the truth and shame the devil. A motto which has stuck with me all my life.

Here is an extract taken from the website of local estate agent Terence Painter  today  

Here is an extract from the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents. Here is a link to their website.

Your mission, if you choose to take it, is to carefully read Mr Painter's adverts and make an informed judgment as to whether the they comply with the Code. The  Property Ombudsman will investigate complaints from the public about  breaches of the Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents.

I have examined the advert and have made up my mind.  I will be contacting the Ombudsman and will publish his reply.

Pimp My Ramsgate Tiddely-Om-Prom-Prom

The licence for  the Ramsgate Pleasurama building site hoarding (otherwise known as the Great Wall of Ramsgate), is granted by Kent County Council Highways Department.  The hoarding is perhaps half a mile in length and encloses thousands of square yards of public promenade. The licence allowing for this enclosure of  large swathes of public land is granted on the basis that development work is taking place on the site, which quite clearly it hasn’t done from almost 3 years.

Yesterday, I raised this matter with Kent County Council Highways. They told me that they were reviewing the hoarding licence and had just received an e-mail from the building firm  Cardy who are the Pleasurama site Developers (SFP Ventures UK Ltd) contractors and who hold the hoarding licence.

Apparently, Cardy’s stated in their e-mail to the Highways people that work will be beginning on site in the summer of 2014 and that they need to retain the hoarding licence. This struck  me as being strange because the Pleasurama Development Agreement signed by the Council and SFP requires the project to be substantially completed by 28  February 2014 – that’s in about 5 weeks time. No significant development work would be expected to be taking place on the site after this date, so there would be no need for a hoarding taking up thousands of square yards of public promenade.

For any significant development work to commence on site in the summer of 2014 Thanet Council would have to extend its agreement with SFP, or do a new deal with someone else. To the best of knowledge the agreement has not been extended by the Council, nor am I  aware of any new development agreements in the offing. In fact the Council’s Scrutiny Panel will shortly be considering legal advice about whether or not the Pleasurama Development Agreement with SFP can be terminated. Something which could and should have been done in 2009 when Council officers advised Councillors that SFP was not an ideal development partner.

I have now alerted Kent County Council Highways to the fact that it is unlikely that development work will be taking place on the Pleasurama site in the summer and that the information they have received from the contractors is possibly based on, shall we charitably say,  a “misunderstanding”. I have also sought the assurances of senior council officers that in their dealings with SFP, they have not taken  any actions which may  have created misleading expectations about the development                   
agreement. It is for councillors to decide the future of this agreement not officers.

Unless the Council's political bosses secretly stitch up a last minute  dodgy deal with SFP, behind the backs of the people of Ramsgate, who have been forced to endure a decade of blight and dereliction on this  otherwise beautiful stretch of seafront,  I can no longer the see the need for a building site hoarding which encroaches on this stretch  public land.
Kent Highways should, in my opinion,  terminate the hoarding licence as the earliest opportunity, ordering  that it be moved back to the edge of the Pleasurama site and that any damage (and there is lots) to the promenade be reinstated at no cost to the public purse. Anything less would be surrender to a company who have blighted Ramsgate for a decade. SFP,  Cardy and salesman/ spokesperson Terence Painter if you have any dignity, hand back the keys and walk away now. Your not wanted here. It’s time for a change


Monday, 6 January 2014

Ramsgate Pleasurama People Power

Apparently the Council has received encouraging advice about dealing with the so-called developers of the Ramsgate seafront Pleasurama site. I understand that the advice might allow the Council to rid itself of  SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd and, in due course,  take back control of the land. Whoopee!

 SFP Director, Sean Patrick Keegan, and his side-kick Terrence Painter, a well known Thanet estate agent, have been bigging-up their plans for the site for over a decade. In that time, SFP has done precious little development work. Instead it  has allowed an important area of Ramsgate's seafront  to fester and decay like a wartime bombsite, blighting the town for more than ten long years.

Some people have suggested  that SFP was more interested in land speculation and profiteering than the  development of Ramsgate seafront. Others have speculated  that some  councillors or political parties may have profited from voting certain ways in relation to this development.  Personally I think these suggestions are  groundless. But there again fact can sometimes be stranger than fiction, especially in Thanet where its not unknown for Council leaders to be gaoled for misconduct in public office.

One thing that has come to light however, is the fact that SFP and Mr Keegan are closely linked to Mr Colin Hill, a multi-millionaire and one of the richest men in the country. It would appear that Mr Keegan and Mr Hill and the mysterious Lichtenstein registered Wetmore Foundation, might have  been linked to some very interesting land transactions involving Peterborough United  Football Club and Peterborough Council. Although perfectly legal, some people have said that these buy low- sell high transactions were pushing the boundaries of  business  ethics a little too far and that the  council tax payers of Peterborough might not have done well out of the £8million deal. But that is pure speculation. My point is however beware of  leopards and spots.  If Thanet Council is able to reclaim the land from the grip of SFP it will have acted wisely and very much in the interest of local taxpayers.

Which gets  me to  my next point. Less than one year ago Thanet Labour Councillors were hell bent on supporting SFP and the Pleasurama Project. I can't recall how many times they described this project as "the only game in town" or how many times councillors said it was the "best option for Ramsgate". So firmly attached to SFP were  the Labour Councillors, that they voted to  prevent discussion of my motion to the Council opposing the developers.

It was only through the work of Friends of Ramsgate Seafront and a number of Tory Councillors who campaigned tirelessly against the Pleasurama Project that Labour politicians began to listen. When they realised just how angry Ramsgate residents were becoming, they cynically calculated that if they didn't give the impression they were doing something about Pleasurama, their Council seats might be in danger.

So well done to Friends of Ramsgate Seafront. Had you not kicked the arses of many  of those  lazy good nothings who have the cheek to describe themselves as Councillors, they  would still have been singing the praises of SFP Ventures and making abusive comments about anyone who dared to challenge their opinions.

Also well done Michael from the bookshop. You kept the Pleasurama issue alive, almost single headedly for many years. Lets hope we see a lot more People Power in Ramsgate and Thanet. Its time for a change!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Refuse Crisis Apology - Poole Still Doesn't Get It

Councillor Alan Poole is a member of Thanet Council's Labour controlled Cabinet. He is  responsible for  Operational Services  which includes the  refuse collection service. For this responsibility  he gets  paid an allowance of £10,766 ON TOP of his basic Councillor allowance of £4,360.

Whilst everyone agrees it's a good thing, the introduction of the Council's new refuse recycling service has been beset with persistent problems. These problems came to an head over the Xmas and New Year period when, by all accounts,  hundreds of homes  had no collections.

Councillor Poole's response to these serious problems has been appalling. Rather than reassuring  residents, developing robust contingency plans,  and beginning an investigation into what went wrong and how the troubled system can be improved, he has sought to blame others

At the Council meeting on 5th December  he  blamed local residents for the difficulties with the new recycling system because, he alleged,  they hadn't  read the  leaflets! In an e-mail of 2 January  he once again blamed local people  saying "inconsiderate parking by residents, bins put out on the wrong day or put in the wrong place or contaminated " are the cause of the collection problems.

Today,  Councillor Poole has issued a statement about the refuse collection problems over the festive season which has been  published on the Council's website. At long last he appeares  to have recognised that the failure of the service was  much larger and more significant  than he portrayed when interviewed by BBC Radio Kent on Friday. There was even a belated apology to Thanet residents for the inconvenience caused be the collection problems. 

But wait for it!  The apology is not from Councillor Poole,TDCs Refuse Collector in Chief , but a mealy mouthed apology on behalf  diffuse corporate entity know as  Thanet District Council. Not once in his statement  does Poole take personal responsibility for a service he ultimately controls and is paid handsomely for controlling. Not once does he say that he is personally sorry for the inconvenience caused by the failures of the service he is accountable for.

But worst of all after finally admitting that the collection problems were not caused by the actions of local people, Councillor Poole fails to publically apologise for  his disgusting efforts to  scapegoat  Thanet residents for the failures of a service  for which he receives a large £10,766 special responsibility allowance. This is  a shameful  omission.

People have an expectation that their elected representatives should behave with honour and integrity and that they should shoulder full responsibility for the services they were voted in to manage. This appears to be a concept which Councillor Poole does not understand. Instead of  taking responsibility for his service he has continually tried to point the finger at everyone but himself. This is why he should be removed from the Cabinet.

Just over a month ago four Independent  (non-political) Members of Thanet Standards Committee produced  a report  about the public perception of Thanet Council and its Councillors. Amongst other things the report  highlighted the fact that some Councillors had made "comments towards members of the of the public which have been less than respectful". It also pointed out that some Councillors wrote letters, e-mails and press releases which sometimes  included "attacks on members on the public". The four Independent Members of the Standards Committee said in their report that such behaviour fell short of high standards of behaviour expected of Councillors.

Councillor Poole along with the his Labour Cabinet chums and Council Leader Clive Hart, spent more than an hour mercilessly attacking and bullying the Independent Members of the Standards Committee for having the audacity to produce a report which told the truth about bad behaviour by Councillors. These shameful actions led to the report being voted down and the Independent Standards Members resigning.

Some people might assume that the forcing out of Independent Standards Committee members was deliberately engineered  by the Labour Cabinet to silence their critics. Councillor Poole's recent blame games, certainly support this view. Either way, there is no doubt that the behaviour of senior Thanet Council politicians are bringing TDC into  disrepute and that action must taken.

Its time for a change!

PS in the absence of a proper apology from Councillor Poole the picture of recently deceased Ronnie Biggs probably sums up the feelings of many Thanet residents toward the Council and so-called political leaders.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Rubbish Collection. Blame it on The Boogie.

Thanet Council's new refuse recycling scheme is a good thing. Almost everyone I have spoken to believes that recycling food, plastics, glass, paper and cans is a very commendable thing to do. Its a sustainable environmentally friendly process which reduces the need for using landfill.

But after 2 months of operation, the system is still not right. Missed collections are still common. Reports of  separated recycling being mixed up at collection are frequent. I accept there has been some bad weather and I pay tribute to the staff who have worked hard in awful conditions, but the bad weather does not fully explain the persistent problems. Even Councillor Allan Poole, the Cabinet member responsible for refuse collection said in an e-mail yesterday "We do have a number of missed collections for which there does not appear to be an easy explanation".

Also there has been an appalling lack  of communication by the Council about the problems with refuse collection over the Xmas period. Many people in Thanet use social media to find out what's happening. But the last time that Thanet Council's Facebook page was updated was 16 October! The Council's use of  Twitter has also been incredibly poor considering that there hundreds of properties which have not had collections. The Council website is not being updated often enough and the Council has failed to make effective use of the local press or local radio to keep people informed about the refuse collection during the Xmas period.

But what annoys me most is how Councillor Allan  Poole keeps blaming other people for the failure of the system which he is in charge of. In his e-mail of yesterday he blames his managers saying "Supervisors are tasked with managing collection crews efficiently". In his e-mail of yesterday he also blames local people  saying "inconsiderate parking by residents, bins put out on the wrong day or put in the wrong place or contaminated " are the cause of the collection problems. And of course there is Councillor Poole's famous gaffe at the Council meeting on 5th December where he again blames local residents for the difficulties with the new system because they didn't read leaflets! Here is the secret recording I made against Council rules but produced in the public interest

Councillor Poole receives an additional allowance of £10,766 per year for  running the department responsible for rubbish collection. This is on top of his basic Councillor allowance of £4,360. Surely he should take some responsibility for the service failure instead of blaming hardworking staff and long suffering residents.

It feels very strange doing this, but for once I fully support the Thanet Council Conservative Group call for Poole to be removed from his rubbish portfolio. If Council leader, Clive Hart refuses to do so, then there should be vote of no confidence in Councillor Poole at the next Council meeting. Here is the Conservative press release which I support.

The Conservative Group at Thanet District Council is calling for the Labour Leader, Cllr Clive Hart to take responsibility for Thanet’s waste and recycling service away from the current portfolio holder, Cllr Alan Poole.
Residents of Thanet have reported numerous and significant problems with the service since the introduction of the new Waste and Recycling regime in November.  At December’s council meeting, Shadow Cabinet Member, Cllr Simon Moores asked Cllr Poole whether, given existing problems, he was confident that Thanet residents would get their waste collected over the holiday period.  Cllr Poole answered that he was.  Feedback from residents across the Isle suggests that, in fact, there continues to be significant failings in the service.

Cllr Moores said: “I recognise that over Christmas there were issues with the weather, but given the widespread concern over this issue, not just over the holiday period but since the introduction of the new recycling regime, I think that the public have lost faith in Cllr Pooole and it is time for a change of portfolio holder.”
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Bob Bayford said: “Incredibly, Cllr Poole has blamed Thanet residents for problems with the new service and, clearly, contingency plans for an efficient service during the Christmas and New Year period were not adequate.  Cllr Hart has already removed Cllr Poole from the Pleasurama debacle, due to his incompetent handling of the situation, and it is imperative that he should now give responsibility for Waste and Recycling to someone up to the task.”

Here's Michael Jackson talking some sense about blame  

Don't blame it on the parking
Don't blame it on the wrong days
Don't blame it on the leaflets
Blame it on Poole

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Ramsgate Station What's It's Future?

There’s been a lot of speculation recently about the future of Ramsgate Railway Station. It’s been suggested by some people that  its future might be in doubt because of the proposed development of  Parkway Station, several miles from  town.

It’s a fundamental economic truth that having a railway station puts a town in a much stronger position than not.  Surely therefore if the  Parkway scheme goes ahead and Ramsgate Station is neglected or even closed, then  the economy of the town will be seriously damaged. This is something which politicians from all parties should be avoiding.

Personally, I believe the  Parkway Station scheme  is based on muddled thinking and could become, like the TransEuropa debt scandal, another  massive waste of public money.   The recently published interim report of the Airport Commission excludes Manston Airport from the resolution of the, highly questionable, south east air-traffic capacity problem. This decision will, in my opinion, lead to the eventual closure of Manston  Airport. This means that there is no need for a Parkway Station because the oft-predicted millions of airport  passengers just ain’t  gonna show up!

Likewise I’m unconvinced by plans being developed by Thanet Council’s Labour Cabinet for  a container facility at Ramsgate port which, it is argued,  may  necessitate  the development a  freight railhead at Parkway. With competition from the newly opened London Gateway super-container port, you don't need to be a maritime mogul to recognise that a sustainable  container operation at Ramsgate is simply not feasible.
However,  if the £millions earmarked for  Parkway were to be invested in developing a high speed rail link between Ramsgate and Ashford, reducing  journey times to London   to an  hour or less, then the economy of Ramsgate and Thanet would receive a massive and sustainable shot in the arm.

Tourism would increase. There would be a major growth in commuting, fuelled by the house price  inflation in London and its suburbs. And new sustainable businesses would rapidly begin to appear, catering  for the needs of these new customers and  providing many  jobs. Central to this would of course be Ramsgate Station which will require major investment as more and more people begin use it.

Focusing on the development of a fast link Between Ashford and Ramsgate  means that hundreds of acres of valuable greenfield  land which would otherwise be sacrificed to a totally unnecessary railway station and  the various hare-brained housing schemes currently being touted, will be protected.  
Finally, a remodelled Ramsgate Station with a bigger transport  interchange would also provide the owner of Manston Airport, Anne Gloag, who I understand used to run Stagecoach Buses, an opportunity to develop a shuttle service to whatever she might decide to build on the Manston  runway once  the airport closes. I am sure these plans are probably already  in the advance stages of preparation!

Whatever anyone may say I think there is a long-term future for Ramsgate Station and I think that future is very bright!