Thanet Star

Labour win by-election but lose moral high ground

I was at the count for the by-election in Newington.

The results proved hard to call right up to the end when Labour finally took the win.

That means that UKIP have lost another seat and overall majority at TDC. It is starting to seem that any hope of stability at our district council is a fiction as the purple hold on the council becomes increasingly fragile.

The following observations are entirely my own opinion.

Despite a little inter-party tension early on the ballot was, overall, a civil affair. That is unless you happen to be in a place to earwig on conversations between candidates and supporters.

The bitter tribalism seen in council chambers was in full swing, albeit masked by pleasant smiles and every attempt at good manors. At one point I thought that Labours army of rosettes were going to start an argument with the venue managers over their tenancy to crowd the entranceway. Sure, it was very cold but the polling station is not an appropriate place for a political party to hang around in large numbers.

That's not to say that individual members of these groups were not, on the whole, apparently decent people but as a group this was less apparent.

The comments from the ex-conservative UKIP leader, Chris Wells, in Kent online seem to me to be equal parts sour-grapes and paranoia. The Labour comments, on the other hand, seem equal parts premature celebration and unnecessary crowing. Nether the winner nor the looser in that election can hold any claim of being a good sport - UKIP being a bad loosers and Labour very poor winners.

I understand that politics can be a passionate issue but every single person there is a human being, even if they do hold ideas that are next to impossible to agree with. Also, as representatives of the people (apparently), we should be able to expect better behaviour from our political parties.

Labour might have won the election but they seem to have been willing to needlessly surrender the moral high ground while they did.

We need change at TDC and, right now, I do not think that we are simply not being offered it.

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New Year Resolution

The sun rises across the Isle of Thanet, spreading welcome warmth in the depths of winter. Orange and pink hues hover on the horizon, a glow that illuminates this island of fire, igniting life in the dawn of a new year.

So what are you going to change about this year to make it better than the last?

A lot of people will mention diets, exercise, quitting smoking, less alcohol, purchasing property, promotions, marriage, children, all the usual resolutions that are more-often-than-not broken or ignored.

What about Thanet District Council? What about our MPs?

I don't do New Year's resolutions. The reason is because if I want to start or stop or change something I, like Nike in the nineties, just do it. There is no need to wait until the start of a new calendar to get on with it, that's just procrastinating.

Our local elected officials have an opportunity here, though. As our spokespeople, who are meant to represent us, they should be moving forward with the wishes of the people. So perhaps the question should be, do they know what we want?

Let's start with Members of Parliament. If you live in North Thanet your MP is Sir Roger Gale, whereas South Thanet is Craig Mackinlay. Both were elected by majority votes and both are here to serve the people within their geographical constituency boundaries. Does your MP know what you want from them? Do they know where you stand on the issues they are debating in Parliament, the votes they are casting, the decisions they are making?

Unfortunately, it is human nature to listen to the loudest voices and take their opinions over the other, quieter thoughts. As such people who protest or use megaphones in any form will always get noticed more than people who send in letters. But what if everyone sent in a letter? What if everybody put their thoughts down and told the MP? What if more sensible petitions were started, with real issues instead of press-baiting nonsense, and these were actually passed on to the MPs? One voice in ten thousand may not be much, but ten thousand voices all speaking the same words together cannot be ignored.

What about the councils? Do you know who your councillors are? How can our councillors represent us if we don't even know their names? Ask Google, or Jeeves, or Bing. You can even ask AOL if, like Nike, you're still a bit nostalgic for the nineties. All the information in the world is now available at your fingertips, so there is no excuse for not checking.

British people love to complain. Thanet residents are firmly within that stereotype. But if you haven't tried to change something, what right do you have to moan about it?

Perhaps we should all make New Year's resolutions this year, me included. What if we all decided to tell our representatives what we actually want, instead of just complaining about them behind their backs? Imagine what that would do.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is a fiction writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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2016 (not) foretold: Newington

Every year I try and take a guess at what is going to happen in the coming year, this year is more challenging than most.

Not only is there a by-election this month with a seven-way contest but a lot of things I would normally write about could go either way.

Crystal Ball / Glaskugel

Newington - your guess is as good as mine

Like most people, I like to play the game of guess the election outcome. This Newington Election has left me scratching my head, though. It's a seven-way fight with some serious candidates and issues to contend with. Worse still, it falls on a sleepy part of the year when it is generally too cold to actually get out and cast a vote.

For Labour and Conservative, this is an election about clawing back what they lost. For UKIP and the Democratic Independent gang this is about Manston and desperately trying to hold on to what they have left. Then there are Green, Liberal Democrats and true independent candidates too.

I've only met three of the candidates.

In the Green Corner, we have Ian Driver. No introduction needed. A local character who has been a councillor before and stood for MP last May.

In the Purple Corner, we have a fellow who I've had a coffee with. To be honest, I was supprised that he came down Purple. I can only hope it was because he was disillusioned with Conservative and Labour rather than being a closet racist - I'd like to be at least a bit right about the man.

In the Yellow corner, we have Jordan Williams. Jordan is the candidate that I know best. Last year he gave up almost every Wednesday Lunch time to come and walk around Dane Valley and help me get things sorted out. With his help, the Dane Valley RAG got potholes filled, graffiti removed, vandalism repaired and a whole host of other things taken care of.

Jordan comes from the Newington area and if I was to offer any advice on the election it would be that this man is a great choice.

As to who might win. Your guess is as good as mine.

How do you call it?

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Ukip's Dane Valley councillor charged with threatening behaviour

Dane Valley deserves a break. Instead it got an (alegedly) abusive UKIP councillor who lives in London.

At least that's the story according to the Christmas Eve Thanet Gazette Story: Ukip councillor charged with threatening behaviour.

Cllr Gary Hillman, who represents Dane Valley Ward, has been charged with "using threatening, abusive or insulting words with intent", after an disturbance at the Winter Gardens in September.

Cllr Gary Hillman has been made a reserve on the planning committee and sits on the governance and audit and general purposes panels. Maybe UKIP think that living over an hour away from Thanet gives Hillman a special insight into the needs of Dane Valley and Millmead? That, or they have no idea what they are doing.

Would you vote for the likes of Hillman?

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Election to take place in January 2016

There is to be an election in Newington on 21st January.

We've been asking since October when it was going to happen but the election date has now been set.

The election was triggered by the departure of UKIP's Cllr Munday (just one in a long line of UKIP defections).

According to Thanet District Council's website the election will probably be held on the 21st January 2016.

Rumour has it that all the regular parties have or are selecting candidates to stand in the ward. The exception being that we have yet to find out of the Conservatives will be standing anyone. UKIP have had a candidate on stand by for a while in the hope that they can keep the seat to avoid shrinking their minority control of the council still further.

More news as we have it.

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Byte Sized

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

Facts
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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.

Facts
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Did Labour Lie?

Who actually believes TDCs Health and Safety line? Comment now on Thanet Star.

Questions
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MRP Minutes

All of the Margate Renewal Partnership Board Meeting Minutes (Via FOI)

General
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Manston Airport

Two weeks to find Manston Airport buyer says North Thanet MP (via BBC)

General
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CCG to review

Thanet CCG told by High Court judge that policy on assistive reproduction technique is “unlawful”. [link]

General
 
 

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