In what must rank, even by Thanet Labour’s appalling standards, as one of the most hypocritical letters ever written by local politicians, the Labour Group has the bare faced cheek to claim that it is promoting good governance and accountability. What a joke! 2 of the signatories of the letter, Iris Johnston and Michelle Fenner were responsible in November 2013 for verbally abusing and bullying, at a public meeting, the four independent, non-elected, members of Thanet Council’s Standards Committee
Why? Because the Independent Standards Committee members had produced a report which criticised the governance of Thanet Council and the accountability of councillors – describing the organisation and its elected politicians as being out of touch, secretive, rude and abusive. Johnston and Fenner’s behaviour at the meeting and that of former councillors Clive Hart and Allan Poole, caused the 4 Independent Standards members to immediately resign. Labour’s nodding donkeys on the Standards Committee then voted to reject a report which was all about the promotion of good governance and accountability at Thanet Council. I secretly recorded this appalling incident and blogged about it at the time. Here’s the link http://thanetgreencouncillor.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2013-11-26T18:25:00Z&max-results=10&start=97&by-date=false
But I digress. Let’s return to Labour’s proposal for an Overview and Scrutiny investigation into Dreamland. Were it not such an important issue I’d be pissing myself laughing about their idea. First, the Dreamland project is a massive, ongoing, undertaking and Thanet Council simply doesn’t have the money, staffing levels and experience to conduct a thorough and proper investigation into a matter of this size and complexity. Labour knows this. Councillors from all the other parties know this and so do the council officers. This proposal is nothing other than cynical political posturing - giving the appearance of trying to do something whilst knowing all along that your suggestion is unworkable bollocks.
Second and more importantly Asking TDCs Overview and Scrutiny Panel, which is made up of councillors from the Labour, Conservative and UKIP parties, to investigate this matter amounts to asking those useless fuckers responsible for the Dreamland mess-up, to investigate themselves. Self-investigation means that misguided party loyalty, political self-preservation and reputational damage limitation will almost certainly get in the way of the truth being told. Any report resulting from such a process will not be worth the paper it is written on. It will be tainted by the skid marks of corporate and political arse watching and will be an official whitewash. Worse still, those senior politicians and council officers responsible for the Dreamland disaster, such as former council leader Iris Johnston and others will escape well deserved naming and shaming.
This is exactly what happened when politicians used the Overview and Scrutiny Panel to investigate themselves over the TransEuropa Ferries secret £3.4 million debt scandal in 2014. Despite the fact that the council’s constitutional rules had been deliberately broken and ignored by senior councillors and officers; despite democratically elected back-bench councillors and the public been lied to and deceived for almost 3 years about the secret and rapidly growing debt, Tory and Labour politicians nobbled the so-called investigation to ensure that everyone got off Scott-free for serious abuse of process and bare faced lying. Labour, like the rest of the political establishment, knows this is how internal, self-investigations work and that’s precisely why these shameless scoundrels are asking for one – because they know damn well that an Overview and Scrutiny investigation will get them off the hook for their appalling mismanagement of the Dreamland Project.I have always called for an independent public investigation of the Dreamland debacle perhaps by the National Audit Office who have considerable expertise and experience in this area. Although we may disagree on many other things, the two Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Craig MacKinlay both support my call for an independent and public Dreamland investigation. If Thanet Council Labour Group, , genuinely support honest and accountable government, then they too should be calling for an independent public investigation into Dreamland, instead of a squalid conflicted self-investigation which, many people feel will be nothing than a cover.
The people of Thanet have paid, through their council taxes, over £10million toward Dreamland. The same amount of public money has been invested via central Government Grants and the Heritage Lottery funding and much more public money will undoubtedly be invested into this project in forthcoming years. Its therefore essential that the catalogue of disastrous mistakes and mismanagement which have been a feature of what is supposed to be a flagship regeneration projected are investigated and lessons learned. The only way to do this is through an independent inquiry