Monday, March 01, 2010
It’s on Television
Just back from a Conservative Technology Forum meeting Westminster. An absolute security nightmare this evening as there was a meeting of 'The Labour Friends of Turkey', a fund-raiser, I assume, being held at the same time at Portcullis House. Now if you think security at Heathrow can be bad, you haven't tried the one at a time slow progress through the revolving doors of Portcullis House. Some of our own members taking over an hour to negotiate the queue, which stretched around the block to Westminster underground station.
The journey home was uneventful, except of course for the group of teenage 'yobs' that joined the train at Herne Bay, encouraging me and others to leave them to their own anti-social delights, strong lager and rap music in carriage one. British Transport Police have of course been running regular patrols between Margate and Herne Bay of late but short of having a constant presence on the trains, which is impossible, the public are left with the ever-present risk of unwelcome fellow passengers and equally ghastly third-world toilets.
I noticed today that one of our St Mildred's Bay café's had its windows smashed over the weekend as did the new computer shop in Station Road. I'm meeting with our Police inspector later this week and I believe I have a reasonable idea of who the suspects might be. Catching them may be another matter though!
You may also have noticed that the road is pretty badly beaten up with potholes at the junction of St Mildred's Rd and Westgate Bay Ave. I have asked Kent County Council to make repairs as a mater of urgency.
Some good news for council watchers today though. You can watch the pilot webcast of last week's council meeting on the Web. We have some hitches with the microphones and the cameras to try and resolve but I'm pleased to see we managed to produce the video, thanks to the hard work of the officers involved in dealing with some difficult technical issues, without spending money which I would prefer to remain focused on front-line services in my portfolio.
Beyond the more obvious benefits of local democratic transparency, one further good thing about being able to watch council meetings online is that rather than read opposition press releases which tell the public what they say we said, you can actually see for yourself. For example, last Thursday, we had the council's budget, a very important meeting in the year and at time 47:30 you can listen to Cllr David Green's remarks on our medium term financial plan. His allegation that the Conservatives are 'running the councils financial reserves dangerously low', can now be placed in its correct context, with the proper explanation from Cllr Wise to match. From the video, it's abundantly clear that Thanet's Labour group had no substantive plans of their own for an 'alternative' budget but opted instead for a 'spoiling action' which required rather less imagination.
Leading-on to the important matter of the 'Disabled Facilities Budget', there was a great deal of political 'show-boating' from the Labour opposition to set aside an exact amount, while the Conservative Group voted against their amendment, committing instead to protect the same amount as far as possible but that it would be irresponsible in the present economic circumstances to ring fence it.
The discussion surrounding Cliftonville West and Margate Central is certainly worth watching as it illustrates the challenges we face as a council in Thanet, in regenerating those areas, as I wrote about at the end of last week.