Sunday, 26 April 2015

Labour's Pleasurama Election Hypocrisy

Labour's false promises
In an election leaflet delivered to thousands of Ramsgate homes Thanet  Labour Party has cynically tried by 'buy' votes. In a headline story it promises that three million pounds will be raised from the sale of the Pleasurama site to developers Cardy, and will be “ploughed straight back into Ramsgate”.  Like many promises made by Thanet Labour this is rather less than the whole truth.
Last Thursday I met with senior council officers and was told that major repairs to the cliff face at the Pleasurama site, which must be carried out before building work begins, will cost up to £600,000. These works are the responsibility of the Council  and are likely to be funded from the money  received by the Council from Cardy. I was also told that the Council’s legal fees for the sale of the site will be around £100,000 and will be also be paid out of the proceeds of the sale.   So the Labour Party’s claimed three million pounds receipt to the Council may actually be reduced to 2.3million immediately. A big difference from the £3million claimed by Labour. And what guarantee is there  that the money would actually be spent in Ramsgate if Labour are returned to power on May 7? On the strength of their past record very little!  

Because Labour in Thanet have never let the truth get in the way of a good story. For example, in the run up to the last election they said they would protect our green fields, only to agree a local plan which allowed massive development on farmland. They also opposed Thanet Parkway station, but in office they have supported the building of a station with a huge car park on farmland just outside rural Cliffsend. So
when they now talk about ploughing £3million into Ramsgate  why should anyone believe them? And on this point it’s rumoured that the £3million sale price reported by the Labour Party is a lot less than an independent valuation of the site estimated  the council should get.

Confidentiality when it suits them
But it’s not just the misleading promises which concern me. It’s that certain Labour  councillors appear  to have abused their power and may have deliberately broken confidentiality in order to produce the leaflet's headline story about the Cardy cash.  Details of the Pleasurama  sale price are included in a legal agreement between the Council and  Cardy which was signed in March. The agreement contains a confidentiality clause which prohibits the revelation of its contents including the sale price. After several weeks of trying I was eventually allowed to inspect the document a few days ago. Before I could see the document I was warned by the Council’s Monitoring Officer that under no circumstances must I reveal its contents. I was also required to sign a confidentiality agreement.I can only conclude that Labour councillor(s) have  also seen the document and decided to  breach the confidentiality agreement themselves in order to produce the headline story in the leaflet.

Now it may seem strange that someone like me who has a reputation for leaking secret documents is complaining when someone else does the same thing. But there is big a difference.  I have only ever revealed confidential information when I thought it was in the public interest to do so. In this case Labour are revealing confidential information  purely out of cynical  political self-interest and in the hope of gaining votes in Ramsgate.
Jaw dropping hypocrisy
But it gets worse. When I tried to reveal confidential information about Pleasurama last year the Council took out a High Court Injunction to prevent me publishing certain documents. I must now pay the Council’s legal costs of £19,600. The decision to obtain the injunction was, I have been reliably informed, approved by members of the Council’s Labour Cabinet. Some of these cabinet members are likely to be  the same people who facilitated the publication of the confidential information about the Pleasurama  sale price in the Labour election  leaflet. Furthermore, several Labour Councillors also complained to the Council’s Standards Board about my efforts to reveal Pleasurama secrets last year. I now face an investigation into my actions. These complainants are likely to be  the same Labour councillors who facilitated the publication of the confidential information about the Pleasurama  sale price in the Labour election  leaflet. Finally since the injunction a number of Labour Councillors have verbally abused me for serving  the public interest by trying to reveal information about Pleasurama which should never have been confidential. Once again some of these councillors are likely to be among those who facilitated the publication of the confidential information about the Pleasurama sale price in the Labour election leaflet.

I have said it once and will say it again, the publication of the election leaflet story about the Pleasurama sale price was misleading and cynical electioneering. But worst of all the breach of confidentiality which was behind this story was an exercise in jaw dropping hypocrisy by The Labour Party. Less than a year ago the Thanet Labour Party was quick to condemn, attack and personally abuse me for trying to release secret documents in the public interest but, with an election in the air, they find it perfectly acceptable to breach confidentiality themselves, not in the  interest of the public they are supposed to serve, but  purely in the interest of the Labour Party .

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