Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Really Big Question on Europe

The Bloom is Everywhere
I realise people expected me to pass some comment on the shock political news from Laura Sandys last Monday but as you may have noticed I was away. A regulatory debate on the future of online gambling in Brussels and then a keynote lecture to a railway industry event on Friday, about the emerging shape of technologies that might influence transport in 2030.

From the first photo taken outside the European Parliament, I wonder if the graffiti is a subtle reference to UKIP's wayward MEP, Godfrey Bloom?

As you might expect, the soaraway Thanet Gazette has its fevered speculation over the potential 2015 local candidates for South Thanet somewhat awry. The coming selection process for a candidate is the remit of the local association and they have two options; either select from a candidate who is already established on the Conservative 'A' list and has applied or follow an open hustings path. Time will tell what they decide and of course, who wishes to apply for what is very clearly going to be one of the country's most scrutinised seats.

While I was away, I noticed the rumour-mill was also playing overtime in the Labour Party direction, with the suggestion that Will Scobie might be asked to step aside in favour of a' more experienced and grown-up' candidate, now that a recent poll suggests a possible Labour victory if UKIP splits the Conservative vote or indeed, if Nigel Farage chooses to run as a candidate, in order to try for UKIP's first parliamentary seat.

But 2015 is still a long way away in political terms and at some point, people will have to ask themselves whether they simply regard UKIP as an anti-establishment protest vote or whether they really wish to pursue an agenda of taking us out of Europe. If it's the latter, then both Labour and the LibDems are firmly committed to keeping us under the growing political control of Brussels but David Cameron has promised a referendum.

Wandering over to the EU Parliament
I notice that at next week's Council meeting on 5th December, my colleague, Julie Marson, has tabled a motion: "This Council supports the EU Referendum Bill currently before Parliament, which makes provision for the UK to hold a referendum on its membership of the European Union before the end of 2017."

This put Clive Hart and the young Scobie in a difficult position, because Labour leader, Ed Miliband's policy is 'NOT' to offer any referendum on our future place in Europe and of course, the polls show here in Thanet that this is exactly what many people want, being exhausted and dismayed, by the local impact of so many Brussels imposed problems from fisheries to immigration.

Normally, motions surrounding central government policy, do not have a place in a local council chamber but since Clive Hart's Labour administration took control, it's used its position to curry favour with the Labour Party HQ and the Trades Unions, by consistently tabling motions that attack the Government, to be followed by wasted hours of Council time to debate, such vitally important local issues, such as gay marriage. This offer the circus act of Cllrs Driver and Worrow, the platform opportunity they need to cause the regular havoc, which has of course, helped bring the Council into disrepute and by many, is regarded as a form of cheap entertainment on a wet Thursday evening.

Quite how the embattled Council Leader Clive Hart will deal with the delicate European question remains to be seen, particularly with the spectre of unrestricted Bulgarian and Romanian immigration facing the island, after Xmas, which UKIP are locally making a great play of. I do believe, we have a problem to confront and I did notice, as an aside, that Hastings Council was complaining bitterly last night on the BBC News, that London's Newham Council, is involved in a programme of clandestine 'Social Cleansing' by sending families to house in the town. Thanet was mentioned in the same story but apparently our own problem, according to the BBC, lies with Lambeth Council.

Finally, I believe both main parties share the same concern that locally, UKIP is lurching to the far right of politics and I made reference to the rumour about homeless Somali families being resettled at Westwood Cross, which was raised without any supporting evidence. This was, I assume to alarm people, by a UKIP county councillor, the husband of UKIP's Kent Chairman, Mo Elenor, - the same lady who greeted the news that Laura Sandys was stepping down ,because she was frightened of losing to UKIP - at a Westgate residents meeting this month.

Regardless of our differences, we remain a tolerant society but much like the video clip above from Jeeves and Wooster, I'm increasingly reminded of the atmosphere of the 1930s and Thanet appears hell-bent on finding its own caricature version of the character of Sir Roderick Spode to spread alarm in the absence of anything that might resemble a coherent policy for the future of our island, North and South.

If local politics carries on in this unfortunate headlong direction in advance of 2015, I doubt that many like me, would wish to play any part in it beyond that date but there's always room for optimism, as I'm sure you will agree.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Night to Remember

Last night, the independent chair and members of the Standards Committee at TDC resigned, following bruising criticism of their report, which alleged a climate of secrecy and corruption at Thanet District Council.

Let me begin first though, with a small example of the personal impact of that report and subsequent media coverage. I had two calls this week. One from a business associate in Hastings who, making a joke of it, asked if I was one of the 'rogue councillors' he had heard about on BBC SE Today and another from a professor of criminology, asking if I could do a turn at a conference at University College Dublin next month. "Are you still with that dysfunctional Council I've heard about." he asked.

So in my own experience, the impact of what I regarded as an ill considered and badly researched report spread much further than the borders of Thanet and as I said in the Chamber last night: "Publish in haste, repent at leisure."

In the gallery, were a number of familiar faces from the local political interest scene, busily tweeting; among them Cllr Ian Driver, who clearly viewed the proceedings as a huge joke. At the very beginning, Robin Hills, the Chair of of the Committee, warned those watching that recording proceedings without approval was against the rules but I understand that Cllr Driver, who is equally bound by those same Council rules, ignored this and will publish the entire transcript. In principle, I've no problem with this but I do have a problem with any one councillor regarding himself above the rules and constitution of a democratically-elected Council, whether he agrees with it or not. This is nothing less than anarchy and anarchy and a collapsible soap-box have followed Cllr Driver through his political career, from one fringe party and local authority to another.

I had very much hoped that the evening's debate would prove objective and non-political but this was quickly dashed by Labour's Cllr Michelle Fenner, blaming the public's perception of the Council on government-imposed austerity, followed by Council Leader, Clive Hart, blaming it on the Conservatives and Cllr Poole, characteristically drifting-off and blaming it on the new bin collection scheme. For one, I don't recall any mention of bankers or Tory millionaires holding any responsibility, which was a small relief.

I won't go into a blow by blow account of what took place but Labour's Cllr Nicholson and Sandra Hart argued very lucidly as did the Conservatives Martin Wise and Julie Marson. Cllr Iris Johnston was reduced to tears.

My own small contribution lay in pointing out that social media lies very much outside our control and from looking at the Facebook and Twitter stream coming from the chamber and elsewhere, history had already been written and that what was taking place in the chamber, had become a vicarious form of entertainment, with many observers having with no real interest in the facts or the truth, whatever that might be. As an example: "Lies n cover ups. Truths exposed. All know what goes on..just cos not involved..letting it happen makes you just as guilty." What on earth does such a statement mean and where is the evidence that supports it outside a fertile imagination?

As I believe I said to the committee, "If you shout  fire in a crowded cinema, people are going to believe you" and this is basically what Cllr Driver and a few others are doing with almost monotonous regularity in an attempt to bring the democratic process at TDC to a halt; the same tactics used by Militant Tendency, AKA, The Revolutionary Socialist League, over thirty years ago in Councils across the country.

Once it became clear that the report, published without proper review, had indeed done considerable damage to the reputation of the Council and that it's methodology and conclusions were unsound at best and alarmist at worst. The position of independent members position then appeared untenable. Simply suggesting that councillors should undergo ethical training was hardly likely to deter Cllr Driver or indeed, Cllr Worrow, who had been previously instructed to do this by the Standards Committee and ignored it.

My own view at this point is that redoubles its efforts to produce good work with very little money available and that the main parties seek some consensus in working together on Thanet's real problems and not be hijacked by single issues or no real relevance to local government, such as gay marriage,  fracking, animal rights and more, which serve as an opportunistic platform for the two most vocal independents from which they can cause merry havoc.

Finally, councillors, like it or not, have to recognise that social media is a weapon that can be very effectively deployed against the democratic process in terms of opinion-forming. As Winston Churchill once remarked: 'A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.' It's time that councillors of all ages came to grips with the technologies, Twitter or TV which will reshape democracy in the second decade of the 21st century.

And now if the rain has finally stopped, I'm going for a walk with my dog.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Seek Him Here - We Seek Him There

'We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? 
Is he in hell? 
That damned, elusive Pimpernel'

Readers of yesterday's column, will have seen that I had submitted a question for next month's Council meeting to Labour's Cabinet member, Cllr Michelle Fenner, asking if it would be appropriate for the Council's Diversity Champion. Cllr John Worrow, to stand aside, until the results of a police investigation had been completed and he had cleared his name.

This question may have caused a brief panic, because subsequently, I have received an email from the Council's democratic services officer that the question has been disallowed on the following grounds:

"The Monitoring Officer has ruled this question out on the grounds that it breaches the following part of the Council Procedure Rules:

“14.5 A question shall not be:

…related to the ethical conduct of individual Members of Council unless the conduct relates to the Member acting as a Member of the Council.

I see on Twitter, that at the Council's Planning Committee last evening, Cllr Worrow, did not appear to represent his Birchington constituents on an application that he had called in. I find this remarkable, much like a barrister not appearing in court to represent his client. Normally one would ask if it were possible for another ward Councillor to substitute in unavoidable personal circumstances.

While, like Cllr Tom King before me, I'm clearly not permitted to challenge Cllr Fenner in Council in regard to the role of her cherished Diversity Champion, I would ask her to consider whether the position remains tenable in the sensitive circumstances of an on-going investigation?

Cllr Worrow is also the Chair of the Council's Finance and Audit Committee, one of the three most senior and best remunerated committees in Thanet District Council. Do we take it that he will not be appearing to chair meetings there either?

In such circumstances, it may be in the public interest for the Labour administration to clearly state their position on their appointment, which, in tandem with Cllr Cohen, Cllr Worrow's TIG colleague, has kept the minority Labour administration in political control of the Council.

The Council's Standards Committee meets tonight at 7pm to further discuss the report raised this week. I plan to attend.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Benefit of Law

Last night, another committee meeting at Thanet Council, had to be abandoned, thanks to the publicity-seeking antics of Cllr Ian Driver.

While I recognise that Cllr Driver is very keen to film meetings rather than participate in a constructive manner as an elected Councillor, readers may have noticed that the question of filming Council meetings is presently a matter of debate. Only this week, the Conservative Group at TDC expressed their views on the matter, in response to a Standards Committee report. This I should add, is firmly focused on the antics and interruptions of Cllr's Driver and Worrow in the Chamber, which makes the proper conduct of Council business a struggle at best, a political farce at worst.

In regard to the former, I'm reminded once again of a quote from Sir Thomas More, in the film, 'A Man for All Seasons, " shown further below. Cllr Driver is a member of Thanet District Council and while he may have a long and distinguished record, over many years, as a political agitator for various socialist groups, he has signed-up to the members code. Until that code is changed, disrupting the business of the Council contradicts what he stands for and the interests of the very public he represents.

In regard to his former colleague, Cllr Worrow, I will be putting the following question to Cabinet Member, Cllr Michelle Fenner at the next full Council meeting in December:

"In view of the gravity of the Police investigation facing Cllr John Worrow, would it not be sensible to suspend his role as the Council's Diversity Champion and recommend that he step aside until he has had an opportunity to clear his name?"

I would expect that Cllr Jack Cohen, now the leader of TIG, would also ask his colleague, Cllr Worrow to stand-down until his name has been cleared in this matter.

In the meantime, here is that quote I mentioned earlier and perhaps it applies to Cllr Driver and Cllr Worrow in equal measures.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's No Game

The Conservative Group press release, welcoming the TDC Standards Committee findings, has provoked the anticipated reaction on both Twitter, the BBC and the more popular local weblogs. I would like to pass some comment of my own but that's always going to be difficult given my own political position and long experience here, of people reading between the lines and reaching conclusions, quite opposite to what I might be trying to say, neatly wrapped in my own literary straightjacket.

As I'm fond of Chess and my iPad just gave me a drubbing again, let's use an analogy from the game to try and express my argument.

Local government in many ways resembles a game of chess. It delivers some six hundred services, the moves on the board are governed strictly by volumes of different legislation, including human rights and any position, from bins to benefits starts to look pretty complex indeed within a few moves.

While the pieces may be moved around the board by professionals, in this case civil servants who know which moves are legal - well at least most of the time - the players are elected from the public at large to take part in a game lasting five years. As you might expect, the level of play reflects society at its best and worst from both ends of a wide spectrum of suitability.

There are those who can draw on their career, are intimately familiar with the game and its rules and then there are those whose life experience and limited education has never prepared them for a higher level of management or responsibility, have never sat in front of a chessboard and have absolutely no talent for the game. Invariably, this is a recipe for disaster as those same individuals, who may be Party or Trades Union stalwarts or perhaps a Captain Mainwaring or a Hyacinth Bucket look-alike, are thrown into local government tournament play, at the highest level with sadly predictable results.

Some of these may get as far as the middle game before a visibly weak position in the centre of the board collapses, others might even try and cheat by making an illegal move or more. This may temporarily elude the sharp eyes of the watching civil servants, who may be taking a nap at the time but who will eventually spot the move if one of the watching audience shouts loud enough.

Democracy may offer the best system of government but it was Winston Churchill who once said: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Thanet, has in the past, suffered very badly from placing individuals who were simply names to tick on a ballot sheet, into positions of influence and responsibility, who, to quote a well-worn phrase, 'Shouldn't be left alone to push a shopping trolley around Sainsbury" and this sense is reflected in many of the comments I read elsewhere.

I wrote in my earlier piece, that we need to move on from the miners' strike and the glory days of Maggie Thatcher. In advance of 2015, we need to attract people with skills, experience and education that can be called-upon to improve the battered-looking political process here in Thanet and we need chess players who can think for themselves and not simply move the pieces around randomly to suit the status quo agenda in local government or to achieve some vague political mimicry of a real game of chess?

Over the years, we have had several characters involved in local politics who have done real damage to the name of the Council and to the reputation of politicians in general. Like my Conservative colleagues, I welcome the report of the Standards Committee but equally recognise that we have a way to go in changing a political culture which has attracted such shameless opportunism in the past.

Now would be a good a time as any to start.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Great Railway Journeys

On the train, travelling home from London St Pancras on Friday, I had a very interesting conversation to pass the time, with two fellow passengers, also returning to Thanet.

I'm sure that it comes as a surprise to many, on meeting a local councillor for the first time, that he's not out on license and can stand upright and chew gum at the same time. I'm definitely not in the first category but frequently struggle with the second.

By the way, I have to confess that I had a serendipitous encounter with Boris at Paddington and quite forgot to say anything about his eccentric project for an estuary airport. I'm not sure it would have been tactful to have offered my opinion on the subject anyway.

My fellow travellers, one from the South of the island and one from the North, in many ways confirmed what I know already and that is professional people are choosing to live here because it's a beautiful place to live, despite all the many problems we face as a community from time to time. Like everyone else, they wonder what people like me are going to do to try and make things better and I spent some time explaining what the challenges are.

Of course, I've one pet argument that many readers will disagree with and that my belief that Thanet is still living in some dreadful eighties, tribal politics drama, where many local councillors and their supporters are involved. We can't move on because quite simply, a number of our elected representatives have a deficit in imagination, are unwilling to leave the past behind or the personal differences built-up over thirty years.

Each and every one of us knows what's good and bad locally, what's wrong, what needs to be fixed, what can't be fixed and indeed, occasionally recognise the cynical, vote-catching political promises parroted by some, such as reversing the benefits cuts or significantly reducing tomorrow's energy bills, that can never be delivered. Meanwhile we have parties such as UKIP, which at last week's Westgate Residents' Association, raised 'the rumour' of 'London authorities, sending Somali families to live in social housing at the new development Westwood Cross.'

Of course it's only 'a rumour' which was promptly denied but simply mentioning it does the job and lights the blue touch paper, cynically shifting the political argument in the planned direction of travel, as if we didn't have too many Red Herrings to distract us already, thanks to the frequent political antics of Ian Driver and John Worrow.

With the next General Election and local elections now not so very far away, 2014 will be the time for all the political parties to look for people to stand as candidates in wards across the island. As a Conservative, in my own ward of Westgate, I will be looking for two new faces to contest Jodie Hibbert's and Tom King's seats and as the 'Deputy Chair Political' for North Thanet, many more new candidates across this side of the island.

If any reader believes that he or she has the right stuff, the patience and the strength of character to join me in what is frequently a difficult and mostly thankless task; that of trying to make Thanet a better place through intelligent political change then please consider becoming a political candidate. The challenges may be frequent and tough but the personal sense of reward which come with helping those who need it most, can't be underestimated. Perhaps between us, we can make a difference and move the island, somewhat reluctantly in parts into the 21st century and recover some of the confidence that so many people have lost in what they view as the tired, often personal and embattled political process that prevails across local government today.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest We Forget

As it's Remembrance Day, I wanted to include a few words of an excerpt from my own great uncle's memoirs, to remind us all of how terrible the conditions in which he lived were during the Battle of the Somme:

"One huge group of three or four hundred evidently mowed-down or gassed during an attack were wearing uniforms that had once been blue or greenish grey. Rank after rank of bodies, the corpses about five yards apart and each rank nearly four hundred yards long, lay there, rows of huddled things, just bunches now of bones and blackened rags, long lines of wasted manhood.

The dismal drenching rains of those winter months had filled every crater to the brim. These pools of desolation, coloured according to the nature of the objects they covered and perhaps the kind of explosives that had burrowed-out the original crater, were deep enough in many cases to have submerged an omnibus.

A thick oily scum, green or red or brown or inky black, often covered the surface, from which protruded barbed wire and the swollen bodies of men and animals. Shriveled hands - whitish of the newly killed or greenish black of those killed at the beginning of the Somme encounter, seemed to clutch at the air to warn or beckon others others to these pools of death."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

White to Move First

A cold and windy Remembrance ceremony in Westgate this morning but well attended in bright sunshine. Thank you all who supported it and special thanks to all churches, organisers, Royal British Legion and the many young people, from Scouts and Brownies and other associations who braved the cold for a lovely ceremony.

If I'm honest, the UKIP logo wreath placed on the memorial, I thought inappropriate. This was most certainly not a place or a time for political party promotion but perhaps I'm old-fashioned. A signed card, I thought would be more than sufficient.

Staying with politics, I found myself in strange agreement with Labour's Harriet Harman this morning, when she announced that Labour would insist that any unemployed person over the age of 22 should be looking for work.

This chimes in with a Twitter exchange I have been having with a local Labour activist, Malcolm Bailey, who is happy to justify Will Scobie's Parliamentary ambitions,  supported indirectly at the local taxpayers expense. This through the income of two Councillor allowance, three if you add that of his partner, Westgate ward Cllr Jodie Hibbert, who did not join us again this morning.

After all, one might validly argue that Will Scobie is unemployed as being a Councillor is not strictly employment with associated employment rights. It is really deemed a voluntary public service which pays an allowance; a generous one too,  if you happen to be a Kent County Councillor. So by Harriet's definition, he neally needs to find his first real job as she is dead-set against "Unemployed young people living-off the taxpayer."

Local Labour's bizarre excuse of comparing him with David Cameron at this stage of his political career, really doesn't wash. You may as well compare my own poor chess-playing ambitions with Gary Kasparov at the same age.

In fact, I've a chess theme to pursue this week, as I morph-out of the summer job as a pilot and carry-on with the winter speaking circuit.

This time I'm exploring the future implications of intelligent machines, like IBM's Watson computer and I'm using the analogy of two games of chess. The first happened in 1997, in which Garry Kasparov, the greatest player in the history of Chess, lost to Deep Blue, a $10 million specialized supercomputer programmed by a team from IBM and capable of evaluating 200 million positions each second.

The second game was a freestyle chess tournament in 2005, in which man and machine could enter together as partners, rather than opponents. At first, the results were predictable. Even a supercomputer was beaten by a grandmaster with a relatively weak laptop. The surprise came at the end. Who won? Not a grandmaster helped by a supercomputer, but actually two amateur players using three relatively weak laptops.

Sixteen years on, and the greatest change in how we relate to computers is the iPad, not HAL in the film 2001 and a Chess APP, such as Smallfish on you iPhone, teamed-up with even a a moderate Chess player, can give a grandmaster and a supercomputer a run for their money.

I was lucky enough to meet Kasparov through a mutual friend and if anyone is interested in knowing the story of how he lost to IBM's Deep Blue computer, ask me and I'll tell you the story.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Very Local Tragedy

The Happier Opening of the Why Not Micropub
Without adding further comment, I'm deeply saddened at the news of tragedy that led to a murder, this week, in Whiteness Road, Kingsgate.

Because of the connection with the Micropub, there is a great deal of speculation and the local paper has only reported on the arrest and charging of Lee Birch, who has been charged with the murder of his wife Annand appears in court in Dover this morning.

Because of the number of searches on the subject I can see hitting this weblog, looking for news on the subject, there was no longer any purpose served by keeping the private. I'm sure we will read more on this tragic matter in the local paper.

I'm visiting the Why Not pub in Lymington Rd this afternoon to see if there is any way of the business continuing for the the local community it services.

Postscript. I have been over there speaking with neighbours in the heavy rain this morning but found the micropub all locked-up. While I was around, the BBC's Jon Hunt pitched-up and so I have expressed the community's shock and sadness at this news. There's very little else that I can offer on behalf of the shocked residents and clients who knew the family.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's a Wind-up

Tesco 3D Plan
I've been out and about walking my ward in Westgate in the rain this morning and the town is alive with a rumour that the Tesco application for Station Road has been granted.

In fact. I've got to the source of the rumour and can tell readers, that at present, no decision has been received from the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol and Cllr King, tells me he has had a conversation with Mr Ellis, the applicant and he has heard nothing either.

So while I can hear shoppers speaking about nothing else, It is, to coin a classic phrase, 'A wind-up' and of course, the moment I hear anything, one way or the other, I shall immediately 'Twitter' the information, so everyone following me will know within minutes of me; the decision on this being due imminently.

On a quite separate note, the Remembrance Day parade on Sunday will start at St Saviours church in Westgate at 11:45 with assembly from 11:15. I'm hoping for a fine day and a good turn by the town, out to support the event and remember all the members of our Armed Forces to have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country since the Great War. I've attached one of my own family photos from the time and its remarkable to think, that next year, it will have been 100 years since the outbreak of war in August 1914.

Monday, November 04, 2013

One Campaign Too Many?

Some will say they saw it coming but others will most surely spring to the defence of a celebrated local political character. One who has courted controversy since he was first elected as a Councillor.

I can of course imagine readers pausing to think of all those Thanet Councillors who might fit that description? This time however, it's the turn of Cllr John Worrow, the Council's Diversity Champion and the former' leader' of TIG - a title now passed to his last remaining colleague Cllr Dr Jack 'Rowley' Cohen.

For those of you who can still afford to buy the soar-away Thanet Gazette on Fridays or indeed find those gems of local news worth reading within its pages, you may have noticed John Worrow, featuring prominently on the front page under the headline: "Councillor Arrest for Sex Assault."

I should add, at this point that the Police are investigating a 'Serious' allegation and Cllr Worrow, protesting his innocence, comments: "I wholly deny the twisted nature of the allegations leveled against me." He is of course innocent, until proven guilty of any charge leveled against him.

What Cllr Worrow can't avoid of course are the rumours surrounding his 'off-duty' behaviour over the years and the Gazette story is simply another. Alert readers may have caught some curious references on the local blogs. The more imaginative of these might disturb even the most broad-minded members of Thanet's electorate.

Cllr Worrow, as the Council's Diversity Champion has not been reluctant to celebrate his personal commitment to diversity and gay rights. I would argue, with many others, that Thanet's Labour Group, have been reckless in appointing him to a senior and well-paid role in the Council's political administration. This in return for his important minority vote to keep Labour in control of the Council and Cllr Poole - presently enjoying the sunshine in Australia, in control of Ramsgate's future. I really do wonder how Cllr Michelle Fenner can now support her protege at the next full meeting of the Council. I'm sure she knows as much as the many other Councillors who have taken a keen interest in the career of John Worrow over the last few years and I'm really very surprised that this one allegation, which goes back many months, has taken so long to surface in the local press.

With what may appear to some to be a slowly developing local version of the Nigel Evans story, how broad, I wonder should we be in a broad-minded society and what standards of public behavior should we expect of an elected representative given the circus performances of the last year? In Thanet, this has been tested to near destruction again and again in the past but there's always, it appears, a character with a megaphone ready to push the limits of the envelope, regardless of political party, sexual orientation or indeed both.

Somehow, I think the mysterious Mr Fox excuse, used on the last controversial occasion may not stand-up too well this time.

Finally, I see from Twitter, that the aspiring  Labour Parliamentary candidate for South Thanet and equally diversity conscious Cllr Will Scobie, has been 'Campaigning' in Westgate over the weekend. I had rather thought that Westgate was in North Thanet and so there is clearly no end to his political ambitions and I'm sure Sir Roger must be worried.. However, I can't complain, because if he bought his partner, the elusive Cllr Jodie Hibbert along with him, to deliver his campaign leaflets, that counts as a result of sorts and a rare sighting indeed; on a par with that of our manifestly absent KCC UKIP County Councillor who, I'm told, lives in Ramsgate.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Finest Tradition of Public Service

My wife bought a copy of The Thanet Gazette home to show me this evening as I happened to be watching an old repeat of Blackadder on Sky TV's Dave Channel.

It was one of my favorites, the Bishop of Bath and Wells episode and of course, there is absolutely no connection whatsoever, between a local political character appearing on the front page of the local paper and the clip below, which I'm sharing for all my readers to enjoy.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Ten Years Further On

It's an unusual anniversary. Ten years since I wrote the first entry in this weblog and rather longer since I tried out 'Blogging' on my Zentelligence page, when Social Media was all about MySpace and being a blogger was as obscure as ' Tweeting' was five years ago.

If you look at the first entry on ThanetLife, then you can see a great deal has changed in ten years and it's not just the internet and the technology that surrounds it. I had just moved back down to Thanet from London and was still in and out of the Middle-east regularly, with the scars of the second Gulf War, still very much visible while climbing away from Kuwait's airport.

You'll see that I wrote: "The cultural and demographic changes here in Kent would be a wonderful subject for a novel and if I can find the time, I’m tempted to try and write one." In fact, I've been doing this on and off on this blog for a decade now and in many aspects, not a great deal has changed, other than my own involvement in local politics limiting my ability to freely express my concerns as I once did in the past. You might argue that UKIP's agenda locally has taken my place instead.

Some residents - I spotted Cllr King watching - may have seen me standing with one of our police officers while he was making an arrest in Station Road, earlier in the week. The individual required handcuffing and restraint and the help of a second supporting police car was needed. The gentleman was subsequently held on remand to appear in court. Subsequently, I had a meeting at Westminster with Sir Roger Gale, on Wednesday, to discuss the subject of our mental health provision in the town at a time when care budgets are under strain.

While we may enjoy the benefits of being a centre of excellence for treatment in Kent, there's a real worry that this medical accolade risks stimulating a one way traffic of acute patients from other areas, which tips the balance in the community. Some local traders have expressed their concern. Once again, being a local councillor I'm very limited in my ability to explore such delicate issues in a public forum. However, Sir Roger is now on the case and hopefully we will be able to arrange potentially helpful  meetings with both the Health Trust and the Police before Christmas.

August 4th 2013 was the 90th anniversary of Westgate on sea's War Memorial unveiling and dedication,

The now deceased Bill Hambidge took great pride in being one of the five founders members of the Royal British Legion (RBL). Little did Bill know that when the Second World War was to come, his own son Colin's, name would be added to the memorial.

Bill was the secretary for 50 years. He was also on the first committee at Maurice House and for a period was Vice-chairman. He then went on to become County vice-chairman of the RBL.

 In 2004 Bill's Great-granddaughter Raisa became Westgate's main poppy street collector along with her mother and father, Lorraine and Richard, raising over £2,000 to date. So along with Richard, Lorraine and Raisa you may meet Westgate on sea's Poppy Collector Mr Bobbee AKA., The Hambidge Hound.

I hope to see many readers, once again at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday to recall the sacrifices made by our armed forces in every conflict since the Great War.