Thanet Star

Council Sues Twitter

A council (not ours thankfully) is taking social media giant Twitter to court to try and unmask a blogger who has accused councillors of grossly unfair election practices.

In South Tyneside matters have become so bad that the local council has taken moves that could redefine privacy and free speech not just in the UK and the US but potentially in the entire world.

BBC News - South Tyneside Council takes Twitter to court in US

South Tyneside Council goes to court in California after three councillors and an official complained they were libelled on Twitter.

The problem is Mr Monkey, a local political blog.

MR MONKEY

Although no new material will be posted on this blog, Mr Monkey has decided to leave the site as it is so that bloggers can trawl through the archives to learn more about Mr Monkey’s crusade to expose the corruption, scheming and cheating that has become so entrenched in local politics.

Mr Monkey claims that South Tyneside councillors interfered with postal votes and then threatened to sue a voter who dared to complain. Mr Monkey also alleges that there was then an attempt by the Labour party to cover up crimes of interfering with the post, election rigging and generally being not-at-all good leading to the placement of David Milland as the MP for the safe seat there as a replacement for a hastily removed council member.

Unsurprisingly the apparently litigation happy leader of South Tyneside Council seems to lead a litigation happy council. Not to mention the fact that the blog, if shown to be true, could be a huge embarrassment for the Labour party both in South Tyneside and locally. Just as they were starting to do so well too...

Disclaimer: South Tyneside Council would like to sue Mr Monkey just as soon as they find out who he is. His allegations are not all ruthlessly backed up with evidence and while they ring true to me there is no saying that the author behind Mr Monkey has enough evidence to prove everything. For this reason I am in now way suggesting that the posts are 100% true even though they sound likely. They are, at this stage, untested in court.

Meanwhile South Tyneside (and one imagines the Labour party) are taking on Twitter themselves to try and unmask the author. This appears to have included demanding the twitter account details of a number of people including councillors who had used twitter to hold private correspondence with constituents.

Fortunately we in Thanet appear to be protected by the fact that TDC couldn't find their own way out of an open box let alone sue a big company. Even so it is something to be slightly worried about.

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Margate Doctor slammed for offering help to a patient.

Local doctor, Dr Richard Scott, has been reprimanded for offering to discuss his faith in order to assist a patient.

Now I get the don't shove your belief down my throat argument but we are talking about a GP from a practice (Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate) that is run entirely by Christian GPs who make a point of saying in their literature, in posters in the centre and on the official NHS Choices website that they are likely to discuss spiritual matters with patients during consultations. If that was not the form of care that you wanted then, really, what are you doing there?

Dr Scott told the Sunday Telegraph at his practice, which is named after the pool of healing in the bible, many patients have problems with drugs and alcohol and religion can be a saving grace in their lives.

Dr Scott said: 'What has happened to me is an injustice and I want to stand up for Christians who have been getting hammered in the workplace.'

Some how this counts as “harassment” and "bringing the profession into disrepute" in which case the entire practice must surely be guilty? Oh but wait, it is the patient's mum that is filing the complaint. Of course... ?

(Video is from the telegraph website)

In the Video Dr Scott says that of every eight patients he might suggest the alpha course to (a series of structured discussions whereby people can investigate Christianity) two might take up the offer and one would be significantly helped as a result. In other words a quarter of the people he talks to feel that it might be worth a try and of those that try it half find that it changes their lives for the better. Say what you like about complimentary therapy but this sounds like a winner. Given that Dr Scott says that he has made the offer to thousands of people that must mean that he has helped over 200 people where medicine could not. Can that be a bad thing?

It's not for everyone but then again neither is aspirin.

What is your opinion - is this political correctness gone mad, religious persecution, a fair result or an utter over reaction?

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Thanet Star Blog List: May 2011 Update

You might have noticed that yesterday I updated the blog list on the sidebar. If you did notice this well done for paying very close attention.

I have expanded the list to include a lot of blogs that were, strangely, missing. I have no doubt that I have missed other active Thanet blogs so in the spirit of working together (something TDC will have to learn to do) please feel free to point out blogs that I might have missed.

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Margate is still missing out

Is it time for a Margate Parish Council?

Consider this: Ramsgate has a parish council and it has a living high street. Broadstairs has a parish council and has done for a long while. It too has a successful highstreet. Margate lacks a parish council and both it's high street are half dead or worse.

Margate has parking problems in the form of nowhere decent to park a car. Margate is also alone in this. And do not suppose that this is likely to get better. Indeed the parking situation is going to get worse.

Estimates from the planning process show that the Tesco car park will more than likely not have sufficient capacity for the number of visitors that they estimate they will have. However the rate of traffic will still go up. TDC do not have a plan to counter this. KCC do not have a plan to counter this and you can be damn sure that Tesco have no such plan.

The only looser is, as always, Margate. Don't get me wrong I'm utterly indifferent to Tesco on the whole and only mildly sceptical about the new plans but Margate needs someone to stick up for her interests before greed kills Margate forever.

Margate, you might be aware, had a whole bunch of money taken away from it so that Broadstairs Parish Council could build on top of the local park in order to earn itself a better income. (And before Doctor what-is-face starts slandering my good name again I have this fact on good authority from a well respected councillor).

Margate suffered utter stupidity when the clock tower had the roundabout replaced with traffic lights. The result was gridlock.

Margate has lost it's cinema, it's amusement park, it's high street (mentioned that already I know), it's big shops, it's little shops, it's economic impact and even it's share of tourism (turner centre aside).

The business rates are too high driving business away, the parking is a farce driving visitors away, the money it should have is taken away to prop up parish councils... Something must be done.

Clearly the only way to protect Margate is to set up a low cost parish council that can fight back for the right of Margate to enjoy a bit of joined up thinking and the money it is entitled to.

Margate is missing out!

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Thanet scheme faces legal action

The Southern Landlords’ Association has secured the support of three other lobby organisations for a legal challenge to Thanet Council’s selective licensing scheme. SLA lodged papers in the High Court last month after top barrister George Pulman QC advised that the scheme appeared to be illegal.

Read the full story here:

Thanet scheme faces legal action | News | Inside Housing

A seaside authority’s decision to tighten controls on its private rental market is set to be challenged in a High Court case backed by four private landlords’ groups.

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Focus on Thanet

The summer is here and with it comes a new crop of Jonny-come-lately Thanet blogs. Encouragingly the latest crop of editions to our circle appear to be departing the dump it on blogger approach and have branched out with more serious platforms. Focus on Thanet, for example, uses wordpress.

focusonthanet.co.uk

Welcome to Focus on Thanet, a website dedicated to news, reviews and discussions about Thanet. For 5,000 years up to Roman times, Thanet was an island until the Wantsum Channel silted up and joined it to mainland Kent.

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Thanet Blog Roundup

Having been a tad under the weather recently I've not got out and about much. With the papers only just managing to get to the election results it seems it is down to us to bring some more up to date news.

So let us look at what the other blogs are saying. First Michael Child seems to be having another volley of letter writing over the subject of the blue flag status (or lack thereof) of our beaches.

thanetonline: Thanet Blue Flags, some thoughts from Thanet District Council

To the council's Press and Media Manager in response to the press release... Michael Child contends with TDC over the subject of the loss of blue flag beaches and Southern Water discharging into the sea.

I must admit to feeling that TDC were altogether too swift to deny that a significant discharge was unrelated to blue flag status loss. My advice (for what it's worth) would be to snap of a letter to the organisation that awards the flags (Keep Britain Tidy, is it?) and ask them if the incident had a significant impact on the loss. Any positive indication here would then have made a case for the TDC officer being forced to engage with the truth rather than blanket denial. On the other hand there is always an outside chance the office is telling the whole truth and not a filtered version that has been handed down from up above.

I'm sure Thanet Coast Life must have an opinion on this and I look forward to reading it.

Thanet coast life

Thanet Beachcomber and volunteer coastal warden for Western Undercliff and Main Sands, Ramsgate for the Thanet Coast project. Also a member of the Marine Conservation Society , the Margate Historical Society and the Labour Party...

Meanwhile over on Thanet Lab young Will Scobie has just discovered what the rest of us knew already:

Thanet Lab: Thanet faces a huge task

Will Scobie writes: "Thanet compared to the rest of Kent has: Lowest percentage of people working. The biggest percentage of retired people (by 2026 it is expected that proportion of retired people will rise from 33% to 44 %!). The lowest life expectancy ( recent report by the NHS in Thanet said that life expectancy is 5 years less for women, and 10 years less for men). The lowest available jobs..."

He may have missed that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports that there are twelve places in the UK where the number of children in families where the parents are claiming out of work benefits is twice the national average. Two of these are Newington and Millmead.

However one should not be too hard on young Will as he closes with a very sensible line The electorate have spoken to us and they have decided that they want all 3 groups to talk to one another. Now it is time for us to listen...

Damn right Will!

Meanwhile Tony Flaig berates the press for it's lopsided reporting which theamatically brings us back to my opening comments.

BIGNEWS MARGATE: Media pack still chewing up Lib Dems

The more I read our national press the more it becomes apparent that British journalists are like semi intelligent pack animals trained by their masters to produce stories within a narrow band of political ideology.

Is there any news large or small that you would care to share? What do you think of these news stories and opinions?

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UNITE's Thanet Earth protest, London

Members of the union "UNITE" stage a protest outside the Oxford Street branch of Marks & Spencers, which employs the services of Thanet Earth produce (part of the Fresca Group Ltd). The Union says that Thanet Earth produce are exploiting migrant workers by using them as casual workers. UNITE says Thanet Earth produce is also failing to employ local people in the areas that they operate. UNITE advocates that pressure be put on the supermarkets that buy Thanet Earth produce, which includes Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's, to change Thanet Earths employment practices.

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Dane Valley Red Team

I think most people by now are aware that Dane Valley is now represented by the red team (Labour). Labour gained 6 seats at the elections which puts them just one seat behind Conservatives with the balance of power going to the three independents.

Given the youthful jubilation of some Labour members at the count I would guess that the reds are expecting the whites to come and play with them to form a controlling faction.

The only decent Conservative councillor in Dane Valley, a man I have come to have a large amount of respect for other this last week, has of course been ousted in a pattern of voting linked to national politics more than local. So now it remains to be seen if Labour can continue the good progress that has been made in the area. Young Will Scobie being that unofficial face of that change will have the most to gain, the most to prove and the most to loose. Tough gig.

However the good news is that there is a growing under current of a third option which given time should provide an alternative for voters. I'm talking of course of the increase in votes cased for team yellow (the Liberal Democrats). It's been a long few months and a steep learning curve for me but one that was well worth it.

This is the beginning.

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Election Day: Win, loose or draw - this is the beginning

On Thursday Thanet will be electing new leaders in the form of District Councillors and I may or may not be one of that number (it's too close to call if you ask me).

Yet, in a way, regardless of the outcome this is the beginning. My commitment to Dane Valley and to Thanet as a whole does not end at the elections but starts no matter who is elected. I have no intention of running away from what we have started here.

I feel that the issue of a directly elected (executive) mayor as leader of TDC is one that needs to be revisited and as part of the council or not this is something I will push for.

It is my opinion that the idea of a Margate Parish Council deserves investigation. Ramsgate has one and it's town centre is doing well, Broadstairs has one and it's town centre is likewise keeping it's head above water but Margate has none and it's town centre is dead or almost. Now I know correlation does not imply causality but the question needs to be asked - who is speaking up for Margate?

I am aware that the junction of Tenterden Way and Millmead Road is unsafe and must be addressed and I will continue to push for action (primarily from KCC) in order to see that the junction is made safer. My potential election to Thanet Council notwithstanding making our roads safe is something I will pursue.

I live in Dane Valley and if I can be of use to the people of Dane Valley then I will make myself available. If I can do this as a councillor this is a happy bonus.

It is true that as a councillor there are a number of areas that I can address more directly. I would be able to vote in meetings and have a part in the decision making process. There is no reason for me to blame inaction on not being elected nor try to diminish my actions because I have Thanet District Council commitments.

I have learned a lot about the council, about what it means to be a councillor and just who problems can and should be addressed to during this campaign. I have discovered that many issues are best addressed not to councillors (after all none of the current councillors are going to want to help make an upstart like me look good) but to the executives responsible for that area.

I have become more aware of the difference between the roles of TDC and KCC, between the employee and the elected and between identifying a problem and getting it taken care of.

Whatever way things fall, and they could go either way, my commitment to Dane Valley and to Thanet truly begins on Thursday. What the election decides is what form my commitment will take. I can not speak for other candidate from other parties but as for me I have committed to serve Dane Valley and Thanet and will do so in whatever way I can.

Time for the legal bits

Published and promoted by L. Latham on behalf of M. Brown, T. Flaig and W. Furness (Liberal Democrats) all at , Flat 1, 2 Prospect Road, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1LD

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Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy

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Council agrees to start compulsory purchase of Dreamland site in Margate

Council agrees to start compulsory purchase of Dreamland site in Margate

A COMPULSORY Purchase Order is due to be served by the council on the Dreamland site. Thanet council and the Dreamland Trust are working to create a...

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Thanet Election

There is no escaping that the election is right on top of us.

The big news is the departure of candidates from the two biggest parties and the general suggestions of what this might indicate about said parties. Although some commentators feel it will make no real difference to the outcome.

I have already made the point regarding shifting view points that have left me wondering where we all truly stand and how any voter can trust any of us so I'm not going to revisit that point.

It is the subject of public opinion that I wish to examine now:

Michael Child makes the point that the model of leadership in TDC will be changing but not nearly as much as we the people have wanted it to.

thanetonline: Not a Thanet Election Special

Did you read the small print? Or do you think that we are voting for the same system of local government as we did last time? This time when whoever gets elected returns to the council offices our system of government will be the new stronger leader and cabinet system. This means whoever is the leader of the council, they will have more power.

Yet aside from that the blog opinion on the election is rather thin on the ground. Sure Mark Nottingham raised the point of free food and drink for councillors but that was a while ago and the blog is silent. Awhile ago Thanet Coast Life expressed dissatisfaction with two of bloggers that are standing including Simon Moores (Conservative) while showing support for David Green (Labour) which I imagine means that Labour supporters are still alive and well and blogging.

Simon Moores also posted a short ditty but I don't normally link to the guy for long and mostly historical reasons and to comment on his post now would require disclaimers and strap lines that I could live without. Not to mention that the odds of my agreeing with Simon are, as always, fairly remote (although it has happened before, just once...)

Are there any more discussions regarding the election that I have missed?

What is your feeling on the outcome? Who do you think will come out ahead?

Is there a candidate in your ward that you would feel happy voting for? Do you vote with your heart or do you vote party political? Indeed are you going to vote at all? (I'd recommend it). If you are voting then why are you voting and if not then why are you not voting?

I hand the floor to you guys.

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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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