Thanet Star

Constitution for Governance of Thanet District Council

In the discussion tha followed Thanet Locals on Thanet District Council - The Basic Idea James Maskell and Cllr Mike Harrison identified that Thanet District Council (TDC) have a constitution that governs all aspects of the council. Cllr Mike Harrison indicated that he helped to write it but that it was not written in the plainest English.

Having had a little time with it I can fully agree with that sentiment. That fact notwithstanding I've been reading it any way. In this post I will attempt to identify parts of the constitution that might apply to current stories covered by local bloggers. Specifically the controversy surrounding Simon Day and the Behaviour of Sandy Ezekiel and friends.

Before you read this article I would like you to answer a few questions to yourself and one question (anonymously) in a poll.

1. Of the council members discussed recently in blogs would you say any could on reasonable and sober reflection be said to be associated with any of the following: bullying, intimidation, disgracing their office, caused or allowed to cause gender based discrimination?

2. Have any of the councillors written about of late excelled, gone beyond the call of duty in an issue, impressed, clearly worked hard to be fair and even; or in some other way been excellent.

I would like you to hold your answers in mind as we look at the nature of parts of the constitution of Thanet District Council (2007). Some of the things listed above are expressly forbidden by the constitution others are not addressed. When we are done I hope that you will have formed an opinion of your own as regarding the constitution, the councillors and what, if anything needs to be changed.

Before I start however I feel that the "leader" of the council requires greater examination than any other and so I would like to nag those that have yet to vote to vote in this poll. Thanks.

Now read on to find out what the constitution of Thanet District Council has to say...

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» Continue Reading: Constitution for Governance of Thanet District Council

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Thanet Locals on Thanet District Council - The Basic Idea.

After the success of Thanet's Reaction to Westwood Cross I was going to now be announcing "local reactions to Sandy Ezekiel". However maters have arisen that have caused me to put that worthwhile topic on hold for a short while. I will now try to explain why and see if you agree.

It has become apparent to me that very few people in Thanet have anything approaching a full idea of how Thanet is run. We all know that KCC and TDC are part of it and we are ware that MPs also form part of the picture. These things are common knowledge but after that it gets a bit blurry for many of us.

For example many of us are quickly learning how the planning process works but how many of us know who to complain to if councillors fail to do their job? Do any of us know, for another example, who is answerable for the behaviour of the council tax collection department? What percentage of us know what the "Scrutiny Panel", "Standards Committee" or the "Overview Scrutiny Panel" do or how they differ from each other?

What are the powers and authority of councilors? What are the checks and balances against abuse of those powers? What are the requirements on the behaviour of the councillors?

How many of us even know how to contact a councillor or even who our councillor is? We bloggers and local pundits might know but most people I talk to have not got a clue. In order for evil to prevail good people must simply do nothing - and nothing is all most of us are able to do through lack of knowledge.

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» Continue Reading: Thanet Locals on Thanet District Council - The Basic Idea.

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There is slow and there is TDC it seems...

625 people were interviewed onsite at Westwood Cross during July 2007 by B Market Research Services. You can read a summary of this in a free PDA document.

Some of the questions that the 625 shoppers at westwood were asked was what they liked about our town centres and what they would like to see improved. Apparently out of all 625 people no one liked anything in Margate leaving Ramsgate and Broadstairs being much more popular.

When it came to what could be improved about the area people wnated more and better shops and better parking conditions as the except shows:

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» Continue Reading: There is slow and there is TDC it seems...

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KCC's 32 million pound Internet connection

A UK subsidiary of Unisys Corporation has won an outsourcing contract worth approximately 32 million to manage KCC's MAN.

No this is not some odd minder a MAN (or metropolitan area network) is a WAN that... For example JaNET is a MAN... Hmmm. let's just say that with Kent Public Service Network (KPSN) KCC locations, schools and the Internet are all being taken care of in this bundle. By taken care of we mean upgraded and made much much faster.

Formally Unisys will be tasked to "create and manage a public information network and security service" this was last until 2012.

So if KCC has 32 million quid available to upgrade it's Internet connection perhaps it also has some cash to subsidize some free parking with KCC? We'll never know unless we can motivate a councilor to go ask for the cash but I understand many are too busy getting their own way...

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Thanet's New Slaves

Thanet's unemployed could soon be used as semi-forced labour to clean up the area if a new Green Paper makes it into law. In this article I explore the history of similar laws and the potential implications for the area. Does Thanet really need a new era of workhouses?

In British history, a workhouse, colloquially known as a 'spike', was a place where people who were unable to support themselves could go to live and work. The earliest recorded example of a workhouse dates to 1652 in Exeter although there is some written evidence that workhouses existed before this date. Records mention a workhouse in 1631 in Abingdon.

In 1697 an Act came into play that among other things required the "badging of the poor". Anyone in receipt of the so called "poor relief" (not unakin to the dole) were required to wear a red or blue cloth on their right shoulder. On this cloth would be two letters the first was the initial letter of the parish supporting the "poor person" and the second being a letter "P" (for poor). It was not until some 113 years later when, in 1810, an new Act ended this practice was ended.

This formed part of what was called the "poor law" which saw the creation of "workhouses" where "inmates" would be placed for vagrancy, illegitimate pregnancy or other side effects of poverty. This lasted over 260 years and only came to a final end in 1960's (arround 40 years ago).

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» Continue Reading: Thanet's New Slaves

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Thanet's Reaction to Westwood Cross

It's been a while being written (I started writing this on the 4th of July) and a number of things in my life have conspired to slow me down in writing it. However, you don't want to know about that, I'm sure. So here it is - a summary of local reactions to Westwood cross.

Photo by Andrew M Butler
In this article I will (as promised) explore the feelings of the local community towards Westwood Cross Shopping Centre. I am going to try, to the best of my ability,to keep my feelings out of this story and present only an overview of general opinion. However I do have an opinion and I may therefore be a little biased - albeit unintentionally.

Westwood Cross is technically in Broadstairs and sits on the main route from Ramsgate to Margate. It boasts a number of features (shops) and it's own ghost. Psudoanonymouse satire blogger "EastCliffe Richard" calls it "Westwood Chaos" while Cllr Green tells us that Trevor Shonk will be the UKIP candidate citing Westwood Cross as a key issue.

Opinion is very much divided on the question of "is Westwood cross a good thing". The answer to this question appears to be entirely dependant on what effects of Westwood Cross you choose to look at...

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» Continue Reading: Thanet's Reaction to Westwood Cross

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Council Privicy Trashed

A new government report has been critical of the way local councils sell our details to companies. Councils, such as Thanet District Council (TDC), sell an "edited version" of the local "electrol roll" from which you must explicitly opt-out to keep your information private. The most common purchaser of this data are direct marketing companies from which all those junk mailings arrive in the post each morning.

According to a report from the BBC the reports states that people should have a right to know who firms shared their details with and firms which deliberately broke privacy rules should face large fines.

Does anyone fancy writing a FOI (Freedom of Information) request for TDC's timetable for implementing these recommendations?

Read more from the BBC

Don't forget Local Reactions to Westwood Cross is still being written but time is running short to get me to notice you.
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Thanet Council and The Privatised Planning Process

I have been investigating the way in which Thanet Council makes available the public record of planning applications. Before I go any further let me point out that the council has a public duty to publish and make available all planning applications. The information they publish is therefore public information.

I discovered that the council might be breaking the law. I have discovered that the council has made it very hard for the "free press" (and I include bloggers here) to address planning applications and I have found several specific instances of a clear lack of professional standard. All in all I have been in for a number of surprises while researching this issue.

The first surprise is that they are not available from the Thanet Council website. After a little exploring I as able to find the planning section on the council website. The council website claims they are "proud to work in partnership with..."

(Warning this information could make you quite angry)

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» Continue Reading: Thanet Council and The Privatised Planning Process

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Like to write?

If you love to write then the Thanet Creative Writers blog might be the ideal place to connect with your nearest writer group.

Blogs
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Hyper-localism

For those interested in blogging local news in and arround the UK this BBC article from last year is sure to be of interest.

General
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Did you know?

Margate was the first seaside resort to introduce deck chairs way back in 1898.

Facts
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Did you know

MP Roger Gail (Thanet North) wanted to increase VAT

Facts
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Did you know

MP Roger Gale (Thanet North) has never voted on measures to reduce tax avoidance

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Too popular

On Wednesday 28th May the article The staggering truth about Gloag's Manston deal was so popular that it was briefly unreachable as the server could not supply pages fast enough.

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