Thursday, 30 April 2009

THANET LABOUR'S NEW LEADER


I am at Thanet Labour Group where Richard Nicholson stood down as Leader of Thanet's Labour Councillors after 10 years of outstanding service. Tributes were paid to him by many of the Labour councillors present.

He is succeeded by Clive Hart (pictured) who defeated Dave Green after a friendly and comradely campaign. Other new officers are Deputy Leader Peter Campbell, Chair Steve Ward, and Chief Whip Alan Poole. The new Shadow Cabinet consists of Peter Campbell, Michelle Fenner, Dave Green, Iris Johnston and John Watkins.

Welcome to Linda Aldred who is the only new addition to the Cabinet team, as Richard Nicholson is taking a well deserved rest to become a backbencher.

Mike Harrison was re-elected Vice Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

Clive said that he had found contesting the Leadership difficult, and thanked everybody who had voted for him. He wants to take the battle to the local Conservatives to get better standards of conduct in Thanet public life.

Labour Group meetings are private but all present welcomed the use of new technology to report on the meeting. Labour hopes Thanet Council will move forward rapidly to similar use of new technology.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

RICHBOROUGH ROMAN FORT FILM

I have been critical of Kent TV previously. This 4 minute film on Richborough Roman Fort is the sort of thing that it is good to see being produced.

Although this is in Dover District Council I would like to see the Thanet Council website and other local tourist websites linking to this film. It is just the thing to send to friends and family who are coming to stay in Thanet to show them a local attraction.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

THE COMING ELECTIONS

I have been surprised at a few local bloggers saying that bloggers have to go into "purdah" and not be political during the coming election campaigns. Untrue. The cost of producing any party political matters has to be covered, and accounted for in an election, but I am not a candidate for any of the coming elections so I am unaffected. Also, as it says at the top of the blog this is my personal site, it is not a Labour Party blog so you will find views here that vary with my Thanet Council Labour colleagues and the Labour Party nationally. My views, nobody else's. If others want to speak through this site I clearly indicate that when I post, or indicate it is a guest blog.

If people say they have to not mention the elections, that may mean they intend to be an election candidate, or that they do not understand election law. The cost of this blog is the miniscule amount of electricity I am using as I type, nothing else. I am helped with research by friends but they do not pay me, and I don't pay them. One of the great things about blogging is that a number of people comment or email asking why don't you cover this subject? A big thank you to the many people who have given me ideas for stories since I started. In the end though it is my responsibility regarding what is published.

I will be blogging less, because elections are always busy periods. I think I am more likely to make a difference and contact voters on the telephone, by leafletting or by knocking on doors, rather than by blogging.

The Isle of Thanet Gazette removed Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel's column quite properly because his column would equate to a paid advertisement for the Kent County/Ramsgate Parish elections. However, replacing it with Laura Sandys seemed unimaginative. I would have preferred to see a view from a Liberal Democrat, Green or an Independent. Many people say the Gazette is biased in it's reporting. I have not experienced that for my letters and press releases, but decisions like this are likely to give cause for concern. Cllr. Ezekiel is Leader of Thanet Council, Laura Sandys has no executive power. Perhaps we will see a series from all the aspirant Parliamentary candidates for the two Thanet seats.

The only leaflet I have had so far is from the BNP. That's why I have put the flag up on the right. I have been campaigning to take the Union Jack back from the National Front/BNP all my adult life and it sickens me when they use it.

The Queen has a German background and is married to a Greek. When the BNP complain about people coming in from elsewhere in Europe where will they start? By removing Prince Philip and his children?

How many Premiership footballers do they want to remove?

I hope as many people as possible vote in all the elections and that we do not see the BNP winning representation anywhere.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

JACK JONES - A GREAT SOCIALIST RIP

How many great people do you meet in your life? One of my heroes died yesterday. Jack Jones packed so much into his 96 years. A Labour councillor in his native Liverpool, veteran of the Spanish Civil War and probably the greatest ever trade union leader in British history. Then in retirement, he organised the pensioners movement in a national way that had not been done before.

A man not moved by material things who lived in a Council flat and refused honours, knighthoods and peerages. I was fortunate to get to know Jack in his later years through his work for pensioners, and his efforts to commemorate the veterans of the Spanish Civil War. A friend of Jack's told me a story about how when a memorial was unveiled to Spanish Civil War veterans in South Wales there was a poignant moment. The speaker was saying how sad it was that it had taken so long to erect a memorial and sadly many of those from the local area honoured on the monument were no longer alive. As the names of the people on the plaque were read out, those alive were introduced, there was a pause for the deceased which was borken when one deceased name was announced. Up piped a voice, "here!"

Out of the crowd stepped a man who had lived quietly for decades and whose heroism in figthting fascism was unknown to everybody in his community.

I was fortunate that as a Councillor in Lewisham I could suggest that we should honour our local heroes and recognise their achievements whilst they were still alive. As I read more about the history of Lewisham's Spanish Civil War volunteers, it became clear that it was not just those who volunteered to go to Spain who should be remembered. There were weekly collections from workers in factories. Women provided clothes and parcels as well. Many across the community had showed their support to the International Brigade in Spain in 1936 and 1937.

We were able to find out about the history because of the knowledge of Communist Party veteran Bill Alexander. Bill was a historian of the International Brigades and campaigned for memorials. One of the easiest to find is near the London Eye outside the old Greater London Council County Hall building by the River Thames. With Bill and Jack's assistance I was able to ensure Lewisham had its own memorial. We placed it by the entrance to the main library in Catford so that all users, and particularly future students would see it as they passed by.

Jack had that star quality. Although I only knew him a little, whenever I saw him at Labour Party Conferences he always remembered who I was. Usually surrounded by many people he found time to talk and reflect on politics. He was disappointed at the decline of the Transport and General Workers Union he had lead, but this was a private opinion. Pleased that Labour was back in government he wished there was more redistribution.

Looking back people talk about too much union power in the past. Yet that power redistributed money towards the workers. Now widely condemned (Jack privately roundly condemned extremists who took strike action for political rather than practical reasons) as being too powerful, I think trade unionists of his generation are over critcised. Compare them to the bankers of the last two decades and the City of London. Maybe we are too close to events, but have we truly recognised the way the bankers of the world have shafted economies across the globe?

Jack was active until only a few weeks ago. He remained campaigning and trying to help others into his 90s. When we honoured the veterans of the Spanish Civil war in Lewisham and unveiled the memorail we sang this song. I am sure there will be a commemorative service for Jack, and I hope the hymn of the International Brigade Jarama Valley will be sung:

There's a valley in Spain called Jarama
Its a place that we all know so well
It was there that we fought against the fascists
We saw a peacful valley turn to hell

From this valley they say we are going
But don't hasten to bid us adieu
Even though we lost the battle at Jarama
We'll set this valley free before we're through

We were men of a laken battelion
We're proud of the fight that we made
We know that you people love the valley
We're remember a laken Brigade

From this valley they say we are going
But don't hasten to bid us adieu
Even though we lost the battle at Jarama
We'll set this valley free before we're through

You will never find peace with these fascists
You'll never find friends such as we
So remember that valley of Jarama
And the people that'll set that valley free

From this valley they say we are going
But don't hasten to bid us adieu
Even though we lost the battle at Jarama
We'll set this valley free before we're through

All this world is like this valley called Jarama
So green and so bright and so fair
No fascists can dwell in our valley
Nor breathe in our new freedom's air

From this valley they say we are going
But don't hasten to bid us adieu
Even though we lost the battle at Jarama
We'll set this valley free before we're through

Rest in Peace, Jack Jones, Great Socialist

Monday, 20 April 2009

KEEPING MONEY LOCAL IN THE COMMUNITY

I have just received my annual statement together with the Annual Report from Wantsum Savers: The Isle of Thanet Credit Union

Founded in 2002 I’ve been a member since 2004. Steve Ladyman MP (pictured joining with his wife Janet) mentioned it, and I was enrolled by Barry Coppock. Now Dr. John Pritchard with a team of volunteers continues the work of regular collecting money across Thanet.

The idea is to have local money recirculating in Thanet. Now more than ever with it being hard for people to obtain loans, it forms a valuable role in providing low interest money to members of the credit union. There are social events and free life insurance.

If you are saving the interest rates are not spectacular, but this is a community based idea, and there are not many places to get a high rate of interest at present. I recommend joining.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

LABOUR'S SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN TEAM

Teresa Murray moves to the front of the conference to take over as Chair from Paul Clark. She outlines the European campaign and especially the need to oppose the BNP to ensure that they do not get a seat under the proportional representation election system.

Labour's European team are well represented with Janet Keene, Janet Sully, Silke Thomson-Pottebohm, Lisa Homan (pictured with Peter Skinner MEP with Rochester Castle in the background) and Bob Fromant. Peter Skinner MEP, Labour's number one candidate talks about his visits to see the football at Gillingham rather than conferences. He goes on to detail his work in Europe, emphasising the better provision of rights for workers such as the Working time directive and how this will improve health and safety in the workplace.

He rejoices in campaigning alongside Socialist colleagues across the different countries of Europe. he emphasises the team of MEPs he works with both from the Labour party and the Socialist group. turning his fire on the Conservatives he thanks Tory poster boy Dan Hannan for drawing attention to the extreme Eurosceptic nature of the Tory party. Hannan wants to leave not just Europe, but also the United Nations and UEFA, so there would be a threat to champions league football. As Labour's sole MEP he wants a stong campaign to see more Labour MEPs in particular the second candidate Janet Sully (pictured).
Michael Britton Labour's candidate for North Thanet talks about the need for better health and safety legislation talking about the work of Robert Evans MEP on carcinogenic inks. He also notes how Herne Bay sea front was refurbished by money from Europe with Labour's support. Medway Cllr. Vince Maple talks about challenging Tories on whether they agree with Hannan on his view that the NHS is a bad thing which has made people "iller".

ED MILIBAND AT LABOUR SOUTH EAST CONFERENCE

I am at the South East Region Labour Party Conference at Gillingham FC with fellow Thanet councillors Clive Hart and Linda Aldred. I've always enjoyed football visits to Gillingham where there is a very friendly welcome. The suite of leisure facilities is very impressive and must make the club a lot of money. There is space for the Labour Party National Youth Conference to be held here at the same time. I bet delegates from Scotland, the North and Wales found this an interesting journey!

Paul Clark the local MP for Gillingham and Rainham kicks off describing the Labour achievements for regeneartion following the dockyard closure at Chatham.
As a Transport Minister he also mentions the new High Speed One rail connection that John Prescott made sure would serve Kent commuters as well as Eurostar users. I'm looking forward to the new trains and hear their may be a trial service over the summer before the official launch in the autumn.
Paul introduces Ed Miliband the Climate Change Cabinet Minister. He has come from a visit to the university and is a very smooth speaker, with no notes and a gentle passion. He talks about his portfolio linking flooding in his Doncaster North constituency. His hands are talking almost as much as his voice just like the picture. he holds the audience easily. he's one of Labour's best communicators and in forums like this I think few people are better. Ed engages and enthuses in equal measure. He places responsibility on himself and the audience to understand and act on Climate Change. As one of the youngest members of the cabinet his commitment to the future is fully apparent. He will be facing the consequences of global warming in decades to come.
Ed describes how the market will not work to resolve climate change, only responding AFTER there is a problem, not before. There is not enough money to be made now and that is why it needs govenment action now to promote wind farms as we are seeing being developed in Ramsgate Port right now. He's amazed the Tories cling to reducing inheritance tax for millionaires which will only help the top 2-3,000 people in the country each year. For the few not the many.

Ed finishes with a joke that is an indirect apology for Damien McBride which brings the house down, and calls for renewed campaigning on policy to expose the Tory policy vacuum.

He then takes questions from the floor. Labour's candidate for Rochester and Strood Teresa Murray is strongly supported when she opposes the Conservative proposals for an airport in the Thames. Ed agrees that this is an opportunistic proposal by the Conservatives and that all Kent voters should understand that under the Conservatives they will get an airport in the Thames, under Labour they will not.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

EZEKIEL TO SUPPORT NOTTINGHAM

Thanet Council are due to support the Nottingham Declaration. This is the top local authority acknowledgment that Climate Change exists and needs to be addressed. It is disappointing that 340 local authorities have already signed, so Thanet is one of the last to do so..

The Nottingham Declaration recognises the central role of local authorities in leading society's response to the challenge of climate change. By signing the Declaration councils pledge to systematically address the causes of climate change and to prepare their community for its impacts. You can find out more about the declaration here.

How can Thanet be systematically addressing climate change by promoting an Air Show? The Margate Big Event is on 20/21 June and will see thousands of pounds of our money being spent glamourising planes and flying. When Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel signs to support the Nottingham Declaration, surely he will immediately be breaking it?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

RESIGNATION FROM AIRPORT WORKING PARTY

Lovely weather in Thanet recently, here's a view of the Eastcliff from Ramsgate Main Sands. I have just spent 30 minutes trying to send an email through the Council's Novell email system without being able to do so. Three other webmail systems I can access are all fine so it is definitely a Thanet Council problem. This is a regular difficulty I encounter. The server cannot be busy as the vast majority of users only access emails in normal working hours. I recently raised the chronically bad system Councillors have to use with the relevant officers. They insisted it was fine, and were sceptical of my complaint. A Cabinet member I raised this with said they did not fully understand the problems with the system. An honest, but disappointing response.

So, whilst I wait for the page to load I will write the letter I intended as I think it is important local people are aware of the democratic deficit that Thanet Council currently offers on airport discussions. My letter is to the Chair and Vice chair of Overview and Scrutiny Panel, Cllrs Bob Bayford and Mike Harrison (who also chairs the Airport Working Party).

Dear Bob and Mike,

In the past you have been flexible about changing the meeting times of Overview and Scrutiny Panel to ensure better attendance. I am writing to say how disappointed I am at the scheduling of meetings of the Airport Working Party. Meetings have mostly been at 5pm but I now find that the latest meeting is scheduled for 10am next Wednesday.

I am sorry but this consistent arranging of meetings during the working day prevents me from attending on a regular basis. I therefore think it is best that I resign. this will allow a councillor to be found whose personal commitments allow them to attend these meetings. As we are coming up to the Annual Review of committee membership, by resigning now it means there will be the minimum of disruption.

I think it is unfortunate that meetings are being held at times that are inconvenient for people with work and childcare commitments. I have repeatedly made the point to yourselves, and also to officers assisting with the convening meetings; that we need to open up our meetings so that we engage with members of the public, and allow councillors to be scrutinised as they carry out their duties. Daytime meetings rerettably may give the impression that Thanet Council is minimising public particpation rather than maximising it. This may not be the intention, but it is the perception that many of my Northwood constituents have.

I will welcome the opportunity at Overview and Scrutiny Panel to examine the work of the Airport Working Party, and to work with yourselves there. I thank the officers serving the Airport Working Party who have always been helpful and accomodating.

Best regards

Mark

PS Almost an hour now and the Novell email is still loading, all other systems fine....I'll drop Mike a note on his hotmail to make sure the message arrives.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

GREEN TOURISM THE FUTURE BUT THANET IS STUCK IN THE PAST

Easter sees the traditional start of the tourism season. It is good to see that Thanet Council has announced that more than 100,000 flowers are to be planted around Thanet this summer. This is the normal activity of an area like Thanet that seeks to attract tourists. In Cliftonville though long established flower beds are facing the threat of being grassed over.

My colleagues who are ward councillors Linda Aldred, Doug Clark and Clive Hart are angry at Thanet Council's plans to grass over flower beds on the roadside verge in Eastern Esplanade Cliftonville at the entrance to the popular bowling greens and indoor bowls centre. Clive Hart is pictured by a flowerbed threatened with grassing over with the renowned Walpole Bay Hotel in the background, he said:

"removing these flower beds goes completely against everything we are working for in Cliftonville West, where fostering a sense of local pride is a key objective. Cllr. Aldred, Cllr. Clark and I were shocked when we learned of the plans and appalled by the lack of consultation with local residents. The government is quite rightly focusing huge resources on our area and penny pinching of this kind by Thanet Council is totally unacceptable. We are calling for this crass decision to be reversed and for flowers to be planted in time for summer."
Cllr. Iris Johnston (Shadow cabinet member for Housing) has taken this up with Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel (pictured not promoting green tourism) Leader of Thanet Council, she said:
"these flower beds are on the edge of the Housing Renewal Area where maintaining and improving public space is supposed to be a firm priority for the council".

Clive tells me the bowling greens and indoor bowling centre are practically the only surviving facilities in Cliftonville that visitors still regularly travel hundreds of miles to use for summer holidays and long weekends.

Local hoteliers, Cliftonville Residents Association and several other smaller residents groups have also complained to Thanet Council.
My take on this is that there are of course limited resources, but we need to see more intitiatives encouraging green tourism not less. I think this is a matter of prioritisation. I have consistently argued both within my own Labour group and also at Overview and Scrutiny Panel that the current tourism startegy focussed on "big events" is unsustainable. Pouring money into events with powerboats and planes makes the publication of the Thanet Council's "Going Green" policy contradictory.

I have argued for 21 months to see this policy published. As the Conservatives were elected on the manifesto "Vote Blue, Go Green" you can draw tour own conclusions as to how efficient and effective the current administration is.

I regret that some of my Labour colleagues are also wedded to the tourism of the past, as well as the vast majority of Conservative members. I believe this is in part because the Council is so heavily over-represented with older members of the community.
We have outstanding natural assets in Thanet as Don demonstrates. Yet Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel as Leader proudly promotes tourism based on unsustainable carbon using vehicles.
Thanet needs to abandon its outdated tourist vision which has been promoted by both this Conservative and previous Labour administrations. Instead the slogan "green island" has already been taken by the Isle of Wight. Conservative administered they have rapidly understood the way the world is changing in the last few years. I have been advocating since I came on to the Council in 2007 that Thanet copies their good practice. One of the reasons I blog is to voice views as I have found both officers and members have taken a head in the sand approach to even discussing any thoughts on a more progressive tourism policy.
The Isle of Wight seeks:
"a programme aimed at developing a more sustainable, environmentally sensitive tourism industry, incorporating eco-friendly hotels, guest accomodation, self catering cottages, holiday parks and camp sites, as well as activity providers and attractions whilst also providing information on Island arts, heritage, wildlife and transport."
Which means of course you value your musuems, and do not close them, but that would be joined up thinking, and on tourism the current administration are in my view, on another planet where global warming is a myth.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

HAINE ROAD UPDATE ON TRAFFIC PROBLEMS

Kent County Councillor and Thanet District Councillor is a member of all the relevant committees: KCC Highways Advisory Board, Thanet Joint Transportation Board, Kent Planning Committee and Thanet Planning Committee. He writes a guest blog to update my post earlier this week:

"I have requested at every opportunity that the Haine Road was ‘stopped-up’ at one end, or failing that traffic calming measures should have been installed prior to the opening of the new section of road. I understand one of the reasons given for not closing one end was for ambulances in case of congestion on New Haine Road.

The reply received was that the ‘Highways Officers would wait until the new road was opened and then take appropriate measures if required’.

I have asked Highways to arrange a meeting with residents as soon as possible. Highways advise that they are already starting to look at speed cushions, and where they should be located. I have also asked Highways to write to residents keeping them informed about proposals.

On a nearby problem I've asked for St Johns Avenue further down the A256 Haine Road towards the Lord of the Manor roundabout to be made ‘left turn out only’ and ‘no right turn in’. I understand ‘no right turn in' has been agreed. Regular users of Haine Road will know this junction onto the Newington estate is often a turning which causes tailbacks.'


Many thanks Alan for all your work on this.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

TO WEAR A TIE OR NOT

A Conservative sends me this picture, of Tory star of the moment Dan Hannan MEP not wearing a tie when speaking in the European Parliament. Good on him.

I note an old-style Conservative recently prevented democratic debate by young people in the House of Commons, but moaned about tie wearing.

Sir Alan Haselhurst MP said:

"It is not appropriate to address the House without being properly attired."

All credit to Labour MP Graham Allen who responded:

"I rose to make a point of order today about the Neanderthal MPs in the Parliament who are still obstructing the UK's Youth Parliament who wish to use the Chamber. This typifies the backward, inward-looking nature of many MPs which has led the House of Commons to appear like an irrelevant old boys club."

I find unusual supporters (again) in David Cameron and Laura Sandys who attended the Conservatives top fundraising event of the year with tickets at £300 a head. David wore no tie, shock and I understand Laura had no problem with that.

This is a political matter in that Labour members on Thanet Council all have no problem with whether people wear ties or not. They value opinions ahead of what people look like. Amongst Conservatives it seems a generational problem with older members mostly having raised concerns on tie wearing or not.

So come on Laura Sandys, if you can’t answer questions on serious policy issues perhaps you can have an opinion on this big issue, and bring Thanet Conservatives into the 21st century, and support your Party Leader at the same time.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

HAINE ROAD FROM QUEUES TO RAT RUN




The New Haine Road by pass has certainly changed things for the "old" Haine Road which marks the boundary of my Northwood ward. From regular queues and crawling traffic, Haine Road now flows most of the time. Too quick though for local residents like Tina Howard pictured here. She has been campaigning with her neighbours to make things safe.

When the road was briefly closed she says it was bliss to be so quiet and safe. Now it is reopened it is becoming a rat run with cars speeding through. Many drivers still think there is the old 40mph speed limit, rather than the new 30mph one and are ignoring it. Local people have parked their cars on the road to help slow things down. This has come at a price with several wing mirrors being clipped, and bumpers shunted. There was even a 4 car pile up! I stood there with Tina and nobody took any notice of the SLOW sign painted on the road.
Residents are pleased with the pavement with its new tarmac. They just wish it was fully extended, as the top photo shows people are still forced to walk on the verge. This makes it impossible for anybody with a baby or toddler in a pram or a buggy to easily and safely access the houses. A total no go zone for anybody in a wheelchair.
What people were promised and would like is a system of chicanes/road narrowing as they have in St. Peters so that cars cannot keep racing through. That is what they petitioned for. In quieter times Tina says cars whizz by at 50mph, making it very difficult for locals who want to brake and turn into their properties to park. there have been several near misses and she is concerned there may be a serious accident.
Steve Ladyman and County Councillor Liz Green have taken up the case. The Police are unable to do speed checks on Haine Road as Kent County Council Highways have not yet registered this part of Haine Road as a 30 mph limit. I am backing Tina and all the other residents to get the traffic quietening measures they need, better signs and pavements, and proper enforcement of the speed limits.
I would welcome comments from other users/residents as to how they find the arrangements on Haine Road.
UPDATE 8.4.09 Cllr Liz Green writes:
"I have discussed this with Kent Highways and, a traffic and speed count will be going ahead later this month although Highways do have concerns that the school Easter holiday may have an impact on any traffic survey. To ensure an accurate reading they are looking at carrying it out when the children have returned to school. The issue is being treated with urgency and contractors are still working on potential measures to resolve the problems.

I have asked that all residents are sent a letter to update them. A consultation meeting will now be held with residents in mid to late May. Both Cllr. Alan Poole and I will be attending so hopefully this issue will be resolved speedily and to everyone's satisfaction.
I have also asked Highways to tackle the congestion on the New Haine Road."

Monday, 6 April 2009

DIVIDING LINES - A TALE OF TWO NUMBER ONES

Dividing lines, that’s what politicians look for when campaigning to offer choice to voters. One of the things David Cameron has done very effectively is to reduce the traditional divide between the Labour and Conservative parties on the NHS. Having supported privatisation and diminution of the NHS for most of his life, he now claims to be a big supporter. I believe this to be as sincere as George Bush’s compassionate conservatism. If he is sincere though he can demonstrate his commitment to the NHS by not tolerating those in his party who want to dismantle it.

After all the lauding by the far right of the political spectrum of Daniel Hannan MEP’s speech at the European Parliament, the real Dan Hannan has appeared in the United States. Interviewed, here is what he says:

"We've lived through this mistake; we've lived through this mistake for 60 years now... the reality is it hasn't worked. It's made people iller.
"We spend a lot of money and we get very bad results, you look at survival rates for cancer or for heart disease we are well down on all the leagues. We have very few Doctors.
"We disincentivise people from practising medicine in this country. A lot of our best and brightest Doctors emigrate. A lot of them go to North America because there's no market."


Hang on a minute Dan, why are people living longer than ever?

Here's what The Actuary says in 2008:

“Over the last few years, the issue of longevity risk has gained prominence as mortality rates, and therefore life expectancies, have been improving at an accelerating and faster than anticipated pace.”

So Dan is plain wrong. The video is available here. His view on the NHS are 5 minutes and 20 seconds in. http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/4/3/19942/51071

Dan Hannan is the Number 1 choice for the Conservatives in the South East region. Labour's Number 1 choice is Peter Skinner MEP pictured above about to go campaigning in Ramsgate last weekend with Jenny Matterface, Alan Poole, Steve Ladyman, myself, Liz Green with Dave Green hidden behind her, Rob Griggs, and Gordon Edwards.

Peter is a very effective MEP. His particular interests are Financial and Economic Affairs and the United States. he has worked consistently on these areas and particular combines issues of market regulation which affect both Europe and America. His only job is to be a MEP. Dan Hannan has for many years been a Telegraph journalist writing editorials and columns.

I will be supporting Peter of course, but to Conservatives out there why are you supporting a candidate who thinks the NHS is a mistake?

David Cameron says nothing, his Party controls him, he does not control his Party.

UPDATE Dan Hannan demolished by Sunder Katwala here.
Tom Harris points out the silence of the right on this. Should Simon Moores be added to this list, promoting Hannan one week, looking the other way another week?

THANET COUNCIL INCREASES RAMSGATE CHARGES BY 43%


Guest blog by my fellow Northwood councillor and Mayor of Ramsgate Kay Dark:

"At their meeting on 19th January 2009, the Ramsgate Charter Trustees (all the Thanet councillors who represent Ramsgate wards) agreed a Precept of £9 per band D properties.

The Ramsgate councillors wish to make it clear to the Ramsgate council tax payers, that the 43% increase in the 2009/10 Precept from £9 to £12.87 per band D properties, is due solely to Thanet District Council levying additional charges against the incoming Parish/Town Council, without consultation with the Charter Trustees, and therefore overriding the previous decision."
Letter signed by Kay Dark, the Ramsgate Mayor and Alan Poole, the Ramsgate Deputy Mayor.
How disappointing that Thanet Council did not wish to consult when imposing these charges.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

ST. PETERS OPEN FOR BUSINESS AGAIN

A glorious day in Thanet for my first post from the garden and some good news too. Great news for the traders of St. Peter's, the residents, drivers, delivery men, the Village Tour, churchgoers - the St. Peter's roads are now open. There may be some traffic controls in place while work is carried out in Vicarage Street but I have been told the roads will not be closed again. No firm news on the 56 bus route yet.

The early finish to the road closures is down to the efforts of Dr. Steve Ladyman MP and Kent County Councillor Alan Poole (pictured), a member of the Highways Advisory Board at County Hall. It is a pity the other elected representatives took so little interest in the plight of the small businesses, the elderly residents cut off from their life-line bus route, and the drivers stuck in traffic jams until the last week of the disruption. Had they visited the shopkeepers some weeks ago they would have been made aware of the despair they felt at seeing their takings plummet. I understand at least one Thanet councillor was asked to go to talk to the owners but the invitation was declined.

Hopefully their customers will soon be back patronising these businesses that keep a village alive. A village needs its local shops, cafés, chemist, butcher as without them an area is never the same. In the modern world, once lost they almost never return.

Friday, 3 April 2009

THE GOVERNMENT GETS IT WRONG ON MURDERED TROOPS

A retired serviceman sent this message to me:

"The bodies of the soldiers Patrick Azimcar and Michael Quinsey murdered in Northern Ireland were flown home without ceremony. British troops have spoken of their anger following the disclosure that the bodies of the two soldiers murdered by dissident republicans were shipped back to the UK as freight.

We have been told that the soldiers were not allowed to have a ramp service because of political reasons. We were told the Government didn't want anything that would look like the Troubles had restarted. As far as we are concerned these soldiers were shot dead in uniform by terrorists and they should be treated in exactly the same way as if they were killed in Afghanistan. To send their bodies back to the UK as freight is outrageous."

When a person joins any branch of HM Forces they are effectively on duty 24/7/365.

Sign this petition to prevent it happening again.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Soldiers-on-Duty/#detail

I have members of the armed forces in my family. The idea that if these two men had been killed a few days later in Afghanistan, rather than in Northern Ireland that they would have been treated differently is a sad error of judgment. It gives respect to the terrorists, not those who served.

Please sign the petition and/or email the details around all your friends please.

ANGRY OUTBURST FROM TORY MAYOR

What is it about David Cameron talking about standards in public life, and then ignoring his own representatives behaving badly? Boris Johnson behaved badly yesterday, no sign of an apology. Here's the transcript and a chance to watch the video too from Tory Troll, an excellent monitor of the many foibles and failings of Boris Johnson. david if you want to lead your country, you need to be able to lead your Party and get them to behave better first.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

WHO GOES THERE?


I read Cllr. Shirley Tomlinson stating her confidence in security arrangements at the Winter gardens in this week’s Your Thanet. She seemed somewhat sensitive to criticism though, and rather anxious in her comments. She has a lot on her mind with a big event coming up.

Margate Mayor Cllr. Brian Sullivan and his wife Karen, who is also a councillor, have discharged their duties in a courteous and dignified fashion through the last year. I see though that Brian is taking no chances with the arrangements for his retiring ball at the Winter Gardens tomorrow night.

First, invited guests have been encouraged to wear military flak jackets and steel helmets (chains of office optional) and other Second World war memorabilia. This is just in case it all kicks off again at his special demob dinner and dance. Security staff will be manning the entrances ready to turn away any undesirable characters attempting to enter the annual charter trustee event. The Thanet councillors who make up the Margate charter trustees have had a stormy year.

Second, Brian is fortunate in having security expert Cllr. Ted Watt-Ruffell as deputy Mayor. Ted has a particular knowledge of local licensed premises through his day job, and knows all about the kind of problems that can arise. A regular user of CCTV he is just the man to address any drunk turning up demanding to be let in, saying "Do you know who I am?"

Third, the director of Thanet Leisure Force stated last week “if we have to employ bouncers that’s what we will do, we will have a zero tolerance with drunken anti social behaviour”.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

SANDY EZEKIEL DAMAGING THANET'S REPUTATION

Today's Private Eye (Number 1233) on page 11 has a feature on Sandy Ezekiel.. As I have covered previously his conduct fails to meet the standards which we should expect of our leading local representative. Private Eye concludes its article

"It's not the first time Ezekiel has been up before the standards-wallahs. A year ago the carpet shop owner and former boxer was censured for calling the then Mayor of Margate a "f***ing tosser" at a black tie do and threatening another Labour councillor who tried to intervene with the words:

"Come on, just put your face in mine."

Following the committee's verdict, Ezekiel has sent Cllr. Johnston an apology - which she says was all she had wanted in the first place. Shame he had to wait until £30,000 of taxpayers' money had been spent on m'learned friends before doing the decent thing."

Private Eye is read by many influential people, this is very damaging to Thanet. Yet local Conservatives have given Sandy Ezekiel a vote of confidence. I ask again, will one of them come out and explain why?

UPDATE 5.4.09

Here's the sort of impact this has. Alex Perkins Leader of Canterbury Liberal Democrats twittered:

"Respect to leader of Thanet Council. He's been given a rude nickname (Shagpile) by Private Eye after constant inclusion in Rotten Boroughs."

THE BEST BLOGGING MP......

Has to be cyclist Tom Harris MP, witty, informed and prepared to take his own line. Two stories he has highlighted recently. The Telegraph report that Britain will escape with a shallower recession than rivals, OECD predicts.

and another thing..............

A Tory candidate Deborah Thomas prepared to speak openly about what she believes with candour. In South Thanet we are still waiting to hear what Laura Sandys thinks about most issues, as she steadily cuts and pastes Conservative Central Office bulletins, but continues to avoid answering any difficult questions.

and another thing.....

This sums up my political position too.

FROM HORNPIPES TO LAP DANCING‏

Ramsgate’s grade 2 star listed Clock House in the Pier Yard, looks set to become Thanet’s first centre for adult entertainment.

Applications are due to be made shortly for a license to operate steam rooms and a massage parlour on the ground floor of the former Maritime Museum. The upper floors have been identified as being suitable for a lap dancing club, with private rooms available.

A spokesman for a well known London adult entertainment organisation said ‘”we hope to get the go ahead as soon as possible, so that we can be up and dancing in time for Ramsgate week in August” and "we think we can offer an extra service to harbour users."

A Conservative councillor said "It is extra jobs and investment and we welcome it." We are keen to encourage new businesses and we will be visiting similar premises in London.

Thanet is open for business.