Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Comedic Moment in Mathematics

So much for the early start of spring!

I noticed the Thanet Way was blocked by an incident this morning just before the Shell petrol station outside Whitstable on the London-bound carriageway. I’m not sure whether it was an accident or the results of a police chase but the result was traffic mayhem visible back for miles.

Over at Stapleford I stepped into a proper simulator for the first time and to be honest the best analogy I can find is pedalling a unicycle along a tightrope, while simultaneously reading the instruction for flat-pack furniture assembly. While the modern ‘glass cockpit’ instrument system does everything except make tea, I rather wonder how anyone gets through the course and the flight test exam at the end.

You will see I’ve embedded a popular Blackadder sketch below. It was prompted by Cllr Green sending me an email asking if I might publish the Labour Group’s press release on the council budget, as his weblog is temporarily suspended or out of service; you choose!

I’m reminded that in concert with the ideas of Galileo, Da Vinci, Copernicus and others, a notable advance of the Italian Renaissance was the invention of double-entry bookkeeping and the rapid evolution of the European banking system, presently a sore topic. Sadly Labour’s collective grasp of our local finances conjures-up in my mind, that now famous Blackadder comment: “The Renaissance Baldric, was something that happened to other people.”

After watching last week's anodyne performance at the council's budget meeting, and out of interest, I do wonder how many members of our opposition party have ever run a business, successful or otherwise or even completed a VAT return. I’m sure someone will tell me.

Thanet has a unique and pressing set of challenges and at currently, there is a huge sensitivity to the argument for saving money while maintaining the highest possible standard of public services. I would agree that things can always be done better and economies of scale and cost can always be found somewhere. That said, with the FTSE now down as far as 3,520, (down 105 points today) I suspect that there’s not one of us who is not looking to make savings in our own domestic budgets. The implications of stock values remaining at this level for any length of time are almost too awful to contemplate where the public and private sector pension funds are concerned.


Anonymous said...

Lord Percy in his new ruff looks familiar. Not our casual Labour councillor by any chance?

Campaign for Real Ties!

Anonymous said...

I suppose it is therefore a nice little earner for you to now be chair of a new committee!

As we haven't needed it up to now, please explain to the rate payers why we need it!

DrMoores said...

It's a tough job but it was decided that Blackadder was the man for it!

I was going to deposit my vast new wealth with the Halifax Bank of The Black Monks but as banks ain't what they used to be, I have decided on another course of action and plan to conceal the dosh, - beyond the wit of man - in old sock - under the squeaky floorboard behind the dresser!

It's a committee, involving both parties, dedicated to making the tougher decisions in front of us that don't quite fall neatly into the remit of others!

Whether the noble Lord Percy will be on it I don't know but the constant background tapping might prove a distraction to business!

DrMoores said...

Challenging Labour's latest press release on council finances, for interest, I can share the results of the 2007/8 Use of Resources (UoR) assessment made by the Government's Audit Commission.

The UoR judgements assess how well councils manage and use their financial resources.

The annual assessment of all councils focuses on the importance of having sound and strategic financial management to ensure that resources are available to support the councils priorities and improve services. It makes its judgement in 5 areas:

- financial reporting.
- financial management (including asset management).
- financial standing
- internal control.
- value for money.

The principles underpinning the UoR assessment include supporting continuous improvement by councils, and reducing the burden of regulation on them.

The latest review confirms that TDC satisfies the Level 3 criteria (one up from last year) that "overall costs, including unit costs for key services demonstrate best value compared to other councils providing similar levels and standards of service and allowing for the local context".

This is a very significant achievement for the Finance Department at TDC and shows that whilst the Labour opposition manipulate the facts to suit their political objectives, the reality is that TDC finances are well managed by a very capable and professional team overseen by the Bishop of Bath & Wells!

Tony Beachcomber said...

Simon, are you in a round about way trying to tell us that the criteria to be a good Councillor means being able to fill in a VAT and run a business.
Perhaps I should remind you that since 1974 when TDC was formed most of the uphevials, splits , rebellions and corruption has been caused by Councillors who run small businesses or who have a business interest. There is another factor, some small business people think they are a law unto themselves because they are used to having their own way and not being accoutable to anyone,also they naturaly compete against each other. This is why in the past team Tory always fractures in the end.

DrMoores said...

I'm suggesting Tony that regardless of the ancient history of TDC, knowing something about running a business or even simple double entry book-keeping, might be considered an advantage, when choosing to pass comment on a council budget of some £25 million or so.

Blackadder or Baldric? You pay your money and you make your choices!

Tony Beachcomber said...


Nice try describing my observations as ancient history but this is more about the many behaviour patterns that always seems to be repeated whenever TDC has a Conservative administration. For example why do many Conservatives Councillors somehow think they are so superior when it comes to finance just because they run a business when we all know it is the Council finance officers doing all the graft under the ruling groups direction.

Cllr David Green said...


I expected you to be critical, perhaps even dismissive, as is your style, however by refusing to publish the Labour statement you criticise, you weaken your arguement.

Anonymous said...

Most members of the public in Thanet would say that The Bishop who is distanced, has no right to oversee our local affairs. If the Council wants to make savings it should revisit the M&S building.Today, at lunchtime with two attendants sitting at the entrance desk talking to each other, and not even one visitor inside, It is a sad sight and a waste of public money.

DrMoores said...

It's ironic, that in the news this week, councils across the country are apparently looking at trying to fill the growing gaps in their High Streets by turning empty shops into art galleries and community centre projects.

On a personal note, I would agree that an empty art gallery doesn't look good. The M&S building represents one more challenge to regeneration in Margate and your observation is appreciated.

Changing the subject, I wonder if David Green, in his wildest dreams could imagine that I would publish his ill-conceived attack on the council budget here.

I would remind readers that in an entire council meeting devoted to the subject, all the opposition could come-up with was a sustained attack on the issue of disabled bus passes. The finer details of this year's budget which might have been a topic of intelligent debate appeared to pass them by.

Anonymous said...

I remember a time when a simon moores, non councillor thought that the Turner centre was a huge waste of time and money! ( Thanet life!)

Strange how one's opinion changes when you become a councillor and tax payers money is going into your pocket!

Have your opinions been changed so much?

How sad to see. Please don't ever say that you have moral standards again!

Anonymous said...

If you go back through the old Thanetlife bits, 11.22, you will find that the good doctor's opinion changes to whoever he is trying to suck up to at the time!

Councillors, head teachers etc! All will equally alter his moral compass; if it gets him in with the 'important' people!

DrMoores said...

You'll have me weeping in my coffee next (11:22 & 11:32) in this little conversation you are having with yourself!

Truth is frequently a function of time and holding an 'informed opinion' is really helpful when judging between a good and bad decision.

The Turner Centre I have written a great deal about and my position has changed, mostly as a consequence of knowing rather more than I did about the subject when I first started writing. Like it or not, as someone else is paying for it and it gives Margate a better chance of regeneration in the future, my current opinion is now take the money, build the Turner and hope for the best!

As for losing my moral compass, what that has to do with the dazzling wealth that comes with being a local councillor, I don't know? After all, it's hardly up to the standards of the 'Second' Home Secretary or even the thorny and much discussed matter of Dr Ladyman's £25,000?

After tax is deducted, as a simple ward councillor, like all the hard-working others of all parties, I receive about £285 a month, 'expenses'. That probably works out as rather less than the minimum wage for the time involved and it occasionally gets in the way of earning my living and supporting my family from the "real job".

Who the 'important' people are that you refer to, I don't know but have to assume your comments are prompted by jealousy or malice, as they have been in the past.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Liebour supporters want to lecture conservatives on finance when their leader has overseen the biggest financial disater in the history of the universe.

Anonymous said...

Never said that your moral compass was swayed by money! Suggest you read things properly!

I suggested that your moral compass is all to hell because you change your tune so rapidly!

What this country needs is people of stature and belief. Not people who change thaeir minds to suit the current trend, or worse still, their politiacal bosses!

A great many of our 'great leaders' had the guts to look up and say that although they supported the party direction, they personally didn't agree with it!

That is moral fibre, and that is what I am saying you have lost!

11.22 who was not having a conversation with myself, but with someone else who remembers your posting in the past!!!

DrMoores said...

Isn't it better to change one's opinion and then say why than slavishly follow a single line of reasoning or particular belief towards a dead end?

If you know something today, which you didn't know yesterday and that qualifies or alters your opionion, that's not really a change of moral compass.

For example, I might argue in 16th century Italy, that I always believed that the Earth orbited the Sun until a chap called Galileo showed me otherwise. It doesn't mean that I lose my faith as a consequence!?

Alternatively, I might insist that a multi-cultural society is a good idea until I see the consequences of allowing the establishment of communities that fail to integrate properly in the society in which we all live. The present Government's dilemma!

I will agree with you that 21st century politics is a complete mess and that democracy is steadily failing the people under the strain of the enlarged and complex bureacracy in which it now has to operate.

Anonymous said...

For all your bombast and ego, I still for some reason believe you to be a person of honour. I have a military background, and those of us who have served the colours have a bond!

You allow your ego and willingness to conform to dilute yourself as a person. I will identify myself to you, and you will be suprised! But only when you begin to accept that you can be a person yourself!

You are surrounded by corruption, ignorance and incompetance. By affiliation, you end up being tarred with the same brush, however much you try to escape!

Too your own self be true! A very wise saying; but also one that rings true with voters. I am anonymous here, and enjoy that facade. But I am well known and am respected for my views. I know that is easy for me to say and not prove; but I am not the one who is making myself look like a complete pillock by siding with a leadership that is not only doomed to failure; but is being investigated at several levels!

If you are indeed a man of principle, then for God's sake stand up and be counted! Instead of being annoying 11.22, 1.08 or whatever, I will come out and be your greatest supporter! Just realise that some people, Councillors, Nuns etc are liers, and will use a willing person for their own aims!

DrMoores said...

11:44 - I should be flattered that you appear to think that my political character has a small chance of redemption!

Strangely enough, if you saw the results of something called a 'Behaviour Vector Analysis' test that the last large company I worked for a few years ago had done (for all their people) you would read that I'm quite the opposite of what you think, very non-conformist and 'off-the-wall' in fact!

Local politics is a difficult and somewhat unpleasant arena. Let me use the analogy of a volunteer infantry officer in the First World War. He's in the trenches but he's not on the General Staff where he can influence strategy or policy and is unlikely to get promoted there in a hurry either unless he demonstrates an acceptable level of conformity.

He's no use to anyone if he sulks at the bottom of the political trench and refuses to accept any responsibility that might come his way and worse still, he would let the side; in this case the people he represents, down badly if he did. Or at least I believe so!

I'm not sure what you mean by "standing up" and being counted. what I do know is that acting in the manner you suggest would achieve the very opposite of what you might wish for in the way of progress.

Anonymous said...

Standing up and being counted used to mean, showing what you stood for!

But your theory is flawed as any middle ranking ( Senior ) Officer will tell you. Those who think that they can 'change the system' can only get to a position to make changes by becoming part of the system themselves! By the time they then achieve their target, they have either forgotten what they were trying to change, or have become so indoctrinated by the system, that they themselves are part of the system!!

But of course, you know better! And for the record, served in which regular service?