Thanet Star

Kent police break law

Kent Police may soon be forced to shell out a large pile of cash after admitting that they behaved in a systematically unlawful way.

Unlawful actions by Kent police with repect to the way they treated protesters looks set to pave the way for a compensation bill of the order of several million pounds after our somewhat local force admitted operating an unlawful stop and search operation at Kingsnorth power station in the summer of 2008. The problem rests on how far Kent police went beyond the bounds of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which allows police with reasonable grounds to suspect a person of intending to carry out a criminal act to stop and search that person.

The Criminal Evidence Act 1984 does not allow a stop and search in order to find grounds for the search. Despite the fact that such a blanket use of detaining people would be in breach of Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights this is exactly what Kent Police did. In all the police carried out arround 3,500 searches with no reasonable grounds to support such an action.

A Channel 4 article "Kent police admit 'unlawful' protest policy by Simon Israel reports that: Lawyers for the chief constable Mike Fuller admitted to the unlawful policy and told the high court "we entirely surrender" to three tests cases brought [by] two 11 year old children and veteran campaigner Dave Morris.

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What KCC is up against

Tony's calculations that Kent TV's series cost 2 per viewer once more highlight how KCC have failed to comprihend the nature of the Internet. Simply putting up a website full of Authority Controlled content is not going to make KCC suddenly relevent.

We do not live in China (thank goodness) and so KCC have not got the option of blocking, banning or arresting the competition.

They are not innovating with "Holy Would" (only a single letter removed from Kim Basinger's Holli Would in Cool World). Indeed to even measure up to the things that similar budgets are doing they are going to have to work a whole lot harder.

Take for example Riese a web series finally saw it's debuted early November, 2009. Riese is a Sci-Fi crossed with Fantasy themed web series. The series itself is about a traveller named Riese who flees across the lands of Eleysia with her father's wolf. Hunted by a terrifying religious group called "The Sect" Riese must evade the assassins that have been sent to kill her and discover their true objective.

It's an exciting, visually rich and fully realised story shot using note worthy and innovative technology (Red One). It too had a budget but you can clearly see where the money was spent.

Most significantly for this discusion it is a web series and can watched on youtube and other streaming services. Each episode is fairly short and the first chapter was made of six such episodes. As you can see from the trailer while it's not exactly a rival for the likes of Avatar it is good stuff and KCC would be well advised to learn from this far more successful production outfit if they want to be taken seriousely.

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Expanding Sarah's Law: Implications

Stop the Press! I almost agreed with Cllr Simon Moores just then.

I find myself somewhat in agreement with Cllr Simon Moores, my some times dance partner, on the issue of available statisitcal information. However Dr Moores does not go far enough in his demands and as they currently stand would produce nothing but sensasionalist headlines in the like of the Daily Mail and the Sun.

In his article Expanding Sarah's Law. He's talking, of course, of the pilot of the so called 'Sarah's Law' a sex offender alert scheme. Cllr Moores suggests that we should be able to enter a postcode and get the number of registered sex offenders nearby.

This is all well and good but what does "nearby" actually mean? Canturbury is nearby to most people's minds but the criminal activity the people at the other end of the 8A bus route is not exactly going to impact greatly on the suitability of letting little jonny go to the shops by himself.

Keep reading as I take a look at what else is needed beyond the popularist demands

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» Continue Reading: Expanding Sarah's Law: Implications

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Thanet Streetball

Taking a peek about the old youtube to see if anyone has posted anything interesting about the area I found this intriguing video.

It appears to be the highlights from a "game" of Streetball a form of basket ball with very few actual rules where style is as important as anything else. The game took place, by all accounts, in Ramsgate.

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Postal services still hurting TDC

The combination of postal strikes and Christmas have left Thanet District Council with a real headache.

Thousands of letters have failed to be returned and have had to be assumed lost in the postal system.

TDC are required to confirm that those people entitled to the single person's council tax reduction are indeed getting it and that those claiming it are still entitled. To do this they send out a simple form where respondents need only tick a box and sign the bottom.

Not a big deal you might think. However around 2,000 replies have failed to come back leaving TDC with the task of visiting each and every household in person just to collect a signature or post the form "by hand".

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» Continue Reading: Postal services still hurting TDC

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Google leads the way on China

The world awoke this morning to the news that Google has told China "enough is enough".

In an official Google blog post Google has said that they ...have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. It would seem that Google has noticed a Chinese based attack not only on their own servers but on 10 other companies as well.

Google then announced that they would be taking steps against China. We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech they said.

Google have gone on to say that they will no longer censor their search results for China. This has had the implication of reigniting the debate on human rights abuses in China.

Google made it clear from the outset that they would not trade unconditionally with China and true to their word are shutting down a profitable arm of their operations because ethics must sometimes be more important than profit. Something would do well to take notes from.

Keep reading to see how the search Giant is unintentionally making Thanet look bad by doing the right thing.

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» Continue Reading: Google leads the way on China

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Stop and Search Law is illegal says the EU

Welcome judgement on stop and search writes Guardian blogger Henry Poter. He's talking about the recent judgement from The European Court of Human Rights that states that the Section 44 Stop and Search law is illegal and lacking in proper safeguards.

Specifically that the Section 44 Stop and Search Law had not been curbed by adequate legal safeguards so as to offer the individual adequate protection against arbitrary interference. and was such that a member of the public might be foirced toa ssume that they may be subject to search whenever they left their home.

This is good news for us taller blokes especially after Alex Turner was arrested in Chatham High Street for being too tall (5ft 11in). Being a good few inches over six foot and several stone bigger too one has to worry about getting nicked for being the wrong size.

Stop-and-search powers illegal: time to rethink section 44 writes Kate Day in her Telegraph blog. Personally I would not be upset to see this partiucularly misguided law consigned to the dust bin.

Police should be required to have some suspician before stopping people or subject all persons equally to the same level of inspection. Anything else simply allows individual officers to engage in victimisation. Thanet has enough officers who appear to be in the force only for the joy of pushing other people arround the last thing we need is the worst of our local bulldogs let off the lead to bite at whim.

Of course the Government is going to appeal the shutting down of one of it's pet laws but to be honest it is a crippled beast and will only suffer as the pen pushers tie it up in red tape. Best to put this law to sleep and try to come up with rational solutions to "terror".

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Thanet Politics: Updates, notes and musing

I learned a lot from writing this series not least of all about the complex and frankly undemocratic limits of many election and voting systems. Here are some of the other things to come out of it.

I learned that I am not alone in seeing Liberal Democrats rising. They seem to be making a strong comeback. What are the odds that they'll get half a hung government this year?

I had assumed that the TDC elections would be at the same time as the national ones as this is usually what happens but I am informed that the elections will be 2012. If you can update me with a link so I can avoid assumptions like that again please do.

It seems that much of the change in Thanet is pre-set by the nature of Thanet and swings of the voting system. What might it take for a party to ride out the rule of opposites that TDC seems to sit in whereby when the government changes so do does the council so that they are always at opposites. If Clive can pull off a change of pattern there then that will be something to remember him for. Is there anyone who doubts that my next funny picture will be Clive not Sandy?

Any other thoughts on the whole topic before we put it to bed for a bit?

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Thanet Politics: Coalition Council

This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the state of Thanet's politics in the run up to the 2010 elections. This article will look at the a possible outcome locally with a Coalition Council being formed.

In the last election Labour did not have what it took to control the District Council in Thanet with Labour holding 14 less Council wards in Thanet. Since then the Dane Valley by-election has shown a massive loss of votes from Conservative to Liberal Democrat. The end result of this is that it is likely that Conservative will become an insignificant minority in the next elections.

If this trend continues to any degree Liberal Democrats may be able to take over strong Conservative Council wards while where the contention is more even Labour may gain the upper hand do to insufficiently big gains from Conservative voters.

When the dust settles it may be that while Labour hold more seats wards than any other single party they do not hold a clear majority. The British way is to negotiate support from a smaller party and this is what Labour will probably do.

However what is best for Thanet might be something we normally save for war time and for other times of crisis (like now for example) - A Coalition Council made up of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Independents. Less likely but potentially possible might be a Liberal Democrats led Coalition Council supported by Conservatives and Independents.

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Thanet Politics: Thanet Liberal Democrats

This is the third in a series of articles looking at the state of Thanet's politics in the run up to the 2010 elections. This post will look at the Thanet Liberal Democrat showing.

This Thanet Liberal Democrat article was inspired by Thanet and the general election and how the two main parties are using the internet by Michael Child.

We currently have exactly zero Liberal Democrat's in Thanet at any level. Just a year ago Labour and Conservative had written them off as an irrelevance and then they showed up for the Dane Valley by-election.

Thanet Liberal Democrat came from nowhere to come a close second in the Dane Valley by-election an onslaught against which Thanet's Labour party managed to not loose ground to but the Thanet Conservative Party were humiliated by.

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» Continue Reading: Thanet Politics: Thanet Liberal Democrats

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Thanet Politics: Thanet Labour

This is the second of a series of posts looking at the state of Thanet's politics in the run up to the elections. This post will look at Thanet Labour.

This Thanet Labour article was inspired by Thanet and the general election and how the two main parties are using the internet by Michael Child.

Thanet Labour face a mixed bag this election. On the one hand the Dane Valley by-election showed mass desertion of voters from Conservative to Liberal Democrat handing an easy win to the Labour party who only needed not to spoil things. On the other hand nationally Labour are on the rocks.

Labour are carrying the can for the economic state we are currently in. This gives them a huge disadvantage to fight back from. Additionally in Thanet the Conservatives have a fairly safe seat occupied by MP Roger Gale. So can Thanet Labour come out trumps in the 2010 elections?

When it comes to parliamentary election I can see Thanet Labour acing at most one of the two seats but even that is pushing it somewhat. They will need a strong local representative that has support independent of their party affiliation. No one springs to mind.

For council based elections though, Thanet Labour are going to get an easy ride of things. Their arch rivals - the Thanet Conservative Party - seem to be deeply wounded from a spate of very public failures magnified by the attention of bloggers. All Thanet Labour have to do to walk a good victory and gain control of Thanet District Council (TDC) is not cock up between now and then.

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» Continue Reading: Thanet Politics: Thanet Labour

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Thanet Politics: Thanet Conservative

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts looking at the state of Thanet's politics in the run up to the elections. This post will look at Thanet Conservatives.

This Thanet Conservative topic is inspired by Thanet and the general election and how the two main parties are using the internet by Michael Child.

In 2010 we can well expect Thanet to see two main election battles. District Council and National. That is Thanet District Council (Currently Conservative) and British Parliamentary representation (MPs for Thanet South and Thanet North).

Nationally the Thanet Conservative view looks very promising with, on the one hand, a national disenfranchisement with Labour who were in power when the credit crunch hit us but, on the other hand, we have a disenfranchisement with Thanet's Conservative group over a long list of issues.

Such issues as the granting of planning permission to the China Gateway despite public outcry, the decay of town centres and the expensive town centre parking especially in Margate, the embarrassing by-election in Dane Valley, the scandle of a Thanet Conservative leader and the repeat encounters with the Standards Board, Conservative Councilor Simon Day (Birchington North Ward, Head of Planning) and the sorry story of the highly contentious planning consent and the poor example of adherence that followed, The OAP who died shortly after being Billed 16,000 to cover TDC spending over which she had no control...

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» Continue Reading: Thanet Politics: Thanet Conservative

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Snow, Snooooow, Snow-Snow, Snow!

 
It seems that a good blanket of the white stuff has fallen recently and the whole world has gone mad.

Still, we have faired somewhat better than our other Kentish cousins some of whom are without power this morning. However good luck trying to get anywhere today. The policde are warning people to leave the car at home while the train network is running an "emergency service" only (which seems to mean that regular tickets might be valid on the fast train - best to ask someone first though) and Stage Coach seem to have most of their busses in the shed.

Quite why Stage Coach are unable to field the magority of thier buses when Eastonways were able to get most of their buses out is baffeling. After all they fleace us all twice taking local tax money from TDC and then by hiking their prices any chance they get.

But it's not all doom, gloom and a lack of corporate responsibility as many of us get to stay home and make snow men. What fun!

Send us your snowman pics to the usual address and let's see what Thanet makes of the snowy extra holiday at home. It'll not be here for long.

The address to send stuff in case you don't know it:

Image Credits: stephen_cowbell and debbiehughes27 via FlickR

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Naughty Users

You might recall that not so very long ago I made a point of clarifying site policy. My only real bone of contention was with people using the comments as a form of search engine advertising centre rather than as a place to add something or make an interesting point. Specifically I did not want to find the real readers and myself chatting with people called "Limescale Prevention", "Cheap Pills" or "PC Parts". There is nothing wrong with making it clear that you are commenting in an official capacity by adding your site title after your name (or handle) such as "Matt B (Thanet Star)" I'd even be willing to put up with something ugly like "My Name | Keyword".

While I expect our anon bloggers to carry on calling themselves by their handles rather than their real names I do not see this as a good reason to let the Jonny Come Lately American and East Europian bloggers abuse this or any other site.

Enough was enough and you might have noticed that those who have been putting self promotion and profit above the quality of local debate have now be renamed "Naughty User" and their link removed and their IP address exposed for all to see. Hopefully those from all parts of the world that think they can abuse Thanet's growing blog success (something all Thanet's bloggers have had a hand in) will start to realise that this is not something we are willing to put with.

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Dane Valley Woods practical task day

Had a quick message from Kim via the old facebook which may be of interest to those of you in the Dane Valley or Millmead end of Margate.

Dane Valley Woods is having a practical task day,this Sunday 10th January 2010 from 10 am till mid-day . We are meeting outside the windmill community allotments at 10 am.

Anyone who is interested in coming along is more than welcome. Remember to bring suitable warm weather clothing and that all children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

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Victory for common sense

Police stupidity and overreaction has receaved a sound kick in the pants scoring a solid victory for common sense over paranoia.

Despite the fact that both the law and Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines make it abundantly clear that police are in no way allowed to even think about restricting or preventing the press from taking photographs it seems you can not go ten minutes without hearing about some similar illegal restriction of the free press by an officer of the law.

This was definitely the case for Andrew Handley of Milton Keynes who had been dispatched to the scene of an accident to take photographs for MKNews.

Despite staying behind the police cordon the photojournalist was approached by a police sergeant who demanded he handed over the pictures and his camera.

Andrew explained he was perfectly within his rights to take photographs and contacted his editor who attempted to speak to the officer.

Instead he was arrested. His hands were cuffed behind his back, he was cautioned, had his finger prints and DNA taken. He was then detained for eight hours at Milton Keynes central police station.

So much for the police enforcing the law, you might think. Fortunately for Andrew Handley this story has something of a happy ending as Andrew not only had his nominal criminal record torn up but has also won over 5,000 in damages for being unlawfully held in a cell.

Read NUJ wins apology and damages for photojournalist for more on this story.

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Byte Sized

Mentions

We got a mention in 5 ways to blog from Thanet now.

Blogs
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Creatives

Thanet Creative have a new webiste and a new name

Blogs
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Local Art

Local Artist, John Wooster-Brown has a new website.

Blogs
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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.

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