With the upcoming KCC elections looming large it is becoming worrying that the majority of the publicity has been focused on UKIP. Firstly we have the ex-NF member Martyn Heale standing as the UKIP candidate for Ramsgate. I’m not quite sure how this can create positive publicity however knowing the xenophobic nature of the average Thanet resident I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does rather well.
The other almost astonishing incident took place in Birchington. Our old tory chum Roger ‘the dodger’ Latchford has pinned UKIP colours to himself and is running for UKIP there, (wouldn’t be the only local Conservative to defect from the party lately would he?) Mr Latchford was accosted by certain well known people, I’m sure we all know now who they are from other blogs so won’t go into too much more detail here.
My personal concern is that with the local Labour and Conservative groups too busy blaming each other for the wrongs of Thanet, UKIP are gaining support and anyone who saw Nigel Farage’s appearance on the BBC’s question time last night will know this is worrying in the extreme. Let’s hope the local residents see sense on polling day and opt for the greens or independent candidates if wishing to make a protest vote, I wait with baited breath.
Well, it seems TDC still are reluctant to allow any of their meetings to be filmed! On Tuesday the Overview and Scrutiny committee met to discuss the ongoing Pleasurama debacle. Now despite the chairman Cllr Driver openly inviting the masses of Thanet to attend with filming equipment and record proceedings once again filming was banned from the meeting.
Going back to the last meeting of the full council when as already stated in an earlier entry both a local journalist and councillor were removed from the meet for attempting to record the debate. TDC always state that their own equipment records the meetings to be viewed online at a later date, presumably so they can edit out the childlike behaviour of our esteemed councillors.
However, upon a bit of research it appears that the video recorders installed at council chambers is permanently ‘broken’ which does appear somewhat convenient! Even more astounding is the ignorance of certain members of the council who don’t seem to know about this problem.
So where does that leave us (the public) in regard to being informed of outcomes of debates and how is it ever going to be inspiring people looking to get into politics? As national government doesn’t seem to have a problem and even encourages meetings to be filmed why does TDC constantly refuse people to record their meetings?
Thanet Council Scrutiny Chair “Public Welcome to Film my Meetings”
Following the regrettable incident on Thursday 18th April when a journalist was thrown of a meeting of Thanet District Council for trying to film the disgraceful behaviour of councillors, and following my own exclusion from the same meeting for taking photographs of the unacceptable events, I have been giving careful consideration as to how I will manage the meeting of Thanet Council’s Overview and Scrutiny and Panel on 23rd April.
I have decided that in line with Council rules to allow all accredited journalists to film proceeding of the OSP.
I interpret the term accredited journalist to include Citizen Journalists i.e. members of the public who wish to make and transmit video, sound or textual recordings of the meeting.
I will therefore allow anyone who advises me that they are citizen journalist to record the proceedings of Thanet Council’s OSP without obstruction.
This decision is in compliance with a letter sent to all Council Leaders and Chief Executives by Bob Neil, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2011 which states that in order to promote stronger local accountability the public should be “able to film and record in meetings without obstruction”.
Mr Neil’s letter also suggests that Thanet Council’s recent decision to throw myself and Christine Tongue out the Council meeting last week was wrong. He says that
“recent stories about people being ejected from council meetings for blogging, tweeting or filming … is at odds with the fundamentals of democracy and I want to encourage all councils to take a welcoming approach to those who want to bring local news stories to a wider audience”.
I am very surprised that the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council have never brought Mr Neil’s important letter to the attention of the Council. This is a very serious mistake on their part.
I am also extremely surprised that the forthcoming review of the Council’s Probity and Reputation following the gaoling of ex-Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel for misconduct in public office and the on-going problems with councillor behaviour at meetings, does not include any reference at all to the recording of public meetings. I wonder what the powers that be at Thanet Council have to hide?”
My decision to adopt a liberal and open approach to the recording of the OSP will I hope, be a step in the right direction, and I expect the Council to be supportive of my decision.
Good to see at least one councillor following Eric Pickles guidelines
Well, yet another council meeting passes with plenty of incident. Firstly, a member of the public is ejected for attempting to film the meeting, (something that should be allowed in my opinion as it is supposed top be a public meeting). Shortly afterwards Cllr Ian driver is also asked to leave for attempting to take photographs of the proceedings. Good entertainment I must say but if that is what people want then the zoo would be a better option.
TDC is proving itself to be a total farce. After the Ezekiel debacle, TDC are supposed to be encouraging more open transparency but they turn into hypocrites as soon as members of the public and council are ejected for trying to record events. Usually, I would let this pass but last night’s meeting was packed to the rafters with both Anti Bedroom Tax protestors and FORS (Friends of Ramsgate Seafront) who were there for answers on the ongoing Pleasurama scandal.
The most astonishing thing however is that the public were told that they couldn’t even tweet what was occuring while a certain councillor from Westgate can sit there all night tweeting regular updates with impunity! I think it is time for TDC to set clear guidelines on reporting and updating from council meetings, personally, I think that all meetings should be filmed, even so far as to livestream.
However, from the meetings I have attended it would not be a surprise at all if TDC banned any sort of updates or filming, you only need to go to one meet to see how pathetic the council is. Whether it be childish playground bullying or personal attacks on each other, the people we elected to represent our local interests don’t really care about us at all, it’s more like a big game to them, scoring cheap points off each other and generally disturbing proceedings as much as possible.
In conclusion I can only be amazed that they actually manage to get anything done at all!
It is amazing the rhetoric coming from the right wing regarding the celebrations happening around the country at the demise of Mrs Thatcher. What follows is some viewpoints from the Daily Fail readers when Michael Foot passed away just to highlight the hypocrisy emanating.